It was a sunny afternoon in the temple city of Madurai. We were visiting our paternal grandmother and relatives for the vacation. It was a time when Baasha [The mega block buster movie] of Rajni had released. I was 8 and it was almost like a festival out there.
Giant mannequins, advertising boards which were bigger than buildings adorned the streets. Theywere screaming about a phenomenon called Rajnikanth. I begged my parents to take me to the theatres. It is an unwritten fact that there are more chances of you winning the lottery than getting a ticket to Rajni movie within the first month.
My uncle said he could manage a ticket or two. He cycled me to the theatre week in week out for 2 weeks. Once we managed to get a glimpse of the crowd inside. It looked like Vatican with people arrested by his presence. One of the peculiar things about his style was no matter how poor his character looked, say auto driver or milkman or a mason. He had to wear adiddas shoes; never would you find him in ragged sandals. Also he would play difficult to get to the hottest of vixens, the revolver rita’s could never do what the homely and simpleton girl did to him.
Little did I know that, he was spreading the values of chastity and fidelity amongst us. Other actors in this genre did movies to promote themselves for their ulterior motives like politics or private companies. But I sincerely feel that he wanted to do something for the greater good. This is a reason why he is unbelievably popular in Japan. His pop wisdom about family values, rage against crime and corruption transcended boundaries like none other.
Eventually when I grew up [mentally] I found that the Rajnikanth of yesteryears was a legend with all due merit. His comic capers in Thillu mullu is by far one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. It was a time when he introduced style made of force de resistance, the mannerisms drove women, men and children crazy and the theatre resembled like conglomeration of werewolves during their “moon light” dinner.
It dawned on me that the modern Rajnikanth was a symbol to his fandom. Transcending the realms of the cinema, he stood for something that everyone wanted to see. There were loyal supporters of him who have committed themselves to the causes that he endorses. And they are not the meek laborers of some match factories. I am talking about graduates, MBA’s, Engineers and doctors.
We used to gamble [over wwe cards] when we were kids, I was the mafia leader with my glib oratory powers that I often won almost every match. Once when I was about to lose, I introduced the Rajni card. I scraped “123 kid” from his honors and pasted a picture of Rajni. I convinced that this was the biggest of all cards and it was some kind of limited edition.
It won me laurels beyond my street until it was busted by some seniors from 7th grade.
I adored his presence and charisma ignoring any rationality or sense. Until Endhiran [Robot] hit the screens. It was a visceral carnage in the name of cinema and it pained me that my/our superstar had been reduced to a puppet to the marketing folks behind the movie. Commercializing Rajni was never a difficult task, his presence was enough. But the folks behind endhiran had over killed and over cooked.
The movie was terrible on all fronts, save a few minutes he was just a faded shadow of his yesteryears presence. I argued with my friends that the stupidity behind the chuck Norris kind of mannerism was baffling and given his age he must act in some profound movies like his contemporary Kamal Hassan does.
But again I forgot that I was attempting to capture Rajnikanth inside a bubble which was never going to happen. May his legacy CONTINUE [Notice the absence of a full stop!]
– Written by Guest Writer: Dhanesh Gandhi as a run-up to my 2nd blogoversary.