Rajini and the Indian movie buff's mindset  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

*not a movie review...no spoilers*

Yet another long awaited Rajinikanth movie has arrived with all the glitz, hype, madness and pure entertainment that only a 'thalaivar' film can generate. The whole country is going gaga over it. Reports are pouring in of milk pouring rituals and loud whistling and dancing at centres in US, UK ,Australia etc. I was witness to the frenzied reception at the Rex theatre in Bangalore on the 1st day itself. And the movie has matched all the expectations and pre release hype by raking in record collections all over. The fans are watching it again and again...and again. As the frenzy reaches its crescendo, lets take a look at what makes Rajini the man he is and also on the complicated mindset of the Indian movie buff.
The real self...without any makeups or an ounce of fakeness

The rags to riches story of Rajini is known to almost everyone. Making his entry in films through comparatively small roles, he changed track to do villainious roles. Its in this phase of his career that he used his acting prowess to the fullest extent. Devoid of stardom, the trademark styles and elaborate dance numbers, these roles slowly catapulted him into the big league. The villain metamorphosised into a hero. More meaningful roles came his way. But, as the 90s neared, a notable shift to larger than life roles was noted. He began to be venerated into a class of his own by his diehard fans. His own unique mannerisms contributed a lot into this. And all of it reached a crescendo with Badsha(or baasha, as we all like to say), the movie which was a rage during the mid 90s. As the punch dialogues became political slogans, the man behind all this remained unassuming and elusive. A single dialogue from him could upturn all the political calculations of the leaders. But, even he was not elusive to flops. What made the difference was that he paid the producers from his own pockets when flops happened. The most endearing character of the man is that there's nothing fake about him. Having reached 60 years of age, he looks his age at very place other than the screen. He makes public apperances in normal clothes with his bald head and unshaven face. No, its not a calculated move as some accuse it to be. He just has got nothing to hide from his fans and he knows they will still love him(even more), however unkempt his external apperance may be.

Till about some years ago(pre-Sivaji days), the media and people beyond the borders of the south hardly took Rajini seriously. With their pre conceived notions about the cult of star worship down south and small peeks into clippings of his movies, he was more the butt of many a jokes than anything else. They could never understand why someone doing cigarette tricks would become such an icon. But once they came to know about the astronomical sums that he commanded and about the widespread acceptance of his movies overseas, the National media changed tone. There was a slow shift from the 3 minute reports lampooning him towards 30 minute shows digging deep into the life of the man. It was not appreciation coming from the heart, but a grudging acceptance of the box office clout of this man. With the release of Endhiran, the national media seems to have adopted him as their own, heaping praises on him. They could close their eyes to this phenomenon acting in India's most expensive movie at their own peril. So, when they needed him, they are cashing in on him.
Remember this time?

Now, to the audience. Even in his homeland, where people worship him, there were many of those black sheeps, the so called 'intellectuals', who never accepted him. Though some appreciated him in their mind, accepting him in public meant diluting their exhalted tastes. People supposed to be living on a daily diet of Kurasowa, kar wai, Fatih Akin and the likes, still says he's not worthy of all the adulation. One thing they don't realise is that a common man doesnt want twisted narratives and abstract storylines to enjoy a movie(Its another matter that many of these elite class never fully understands those abstract storylines). Most of these fans formed a bond with the man a pretty long time back and they won't take it lying down when one from the elite class makes fun of their hero. Even after watching the technically well made Endhiran, there's a section who says the effects are over the top. These are the same people who jumps up in glee at a spiderman or transformer and never minds it when the 'firangis' fly from building to building. When someone from our backyard does it, it should be laughed at. Strange are the psychologies of this ilk! Did anyone say hypocrisy? Yet another theory is that the common man loves him because he looks like one of them. Nothing can be far from the truth. Then, the local tea shop owner should be the next big hero. The truth is, you can't survive in this industry if you don't have talent. Tricks and mannerisms can take you only till a certain point. And those who come up with that argument of 'he can't act should go back to the 80s to see some brilliance from this man. And, mind you, that doesn't mean all these super hero movies doesn't need any acting talent at all. Just how many can pull off those with such panache!
The legendary baadsha(baasha)

But whatever be the mindset of fans, grudging admirers or intellectuals, the guy has stood the test of time. Though puncutated by occasional duds like baba, he was never once brought down from that pedestal up there. Many like vijay, Ajith etc tried aping him. But after the initial success, they all failed miserably. Its a proof that the audience down south doesn't worship any hero blindly. It takes some one with immense charm, enough talent and a strong off screen image to command respect. And Shivaji Rao Gaekwad aka Rajinikanth has loads and loads of just that! ithu oru thadava sonna 100 thadava sonna maari DOT!

A short review of the movie Endhiran....no spoilers

I felt that this is one of the best Indian sci-fi flicks till date. Shankar's vision coupled with the double role from the inimitable Rajini makes this a treat. The visual effects are world class, surpassing everything seen on Indian screens before. Right from the breathtaking scene where the robot's magnetic field steals all the weapons from the villians to the mind numbing formations unleashed by hundreds of 'rajini' robots during the climax, the movie has enough sequences to make your jaw drop many times over. A.R.Rahman's music fits in remarkably well and those who've given negative reactions to the music are those who listened to it on screen for the 1st time. Just like every other Rahman OST, you need to give some time for the whole thing to sink in. The story is something which you can predict but that doesn't take anything away from this movie. Shankar should be credited for taking up something on such a grand scale and executing it remarkably well. And, above all this comes the man himself, with a double punch. The scientist sporting the beard and glasses looks a subdued form of Rajini. Rather, a human form who is scared to fight and prefers to take flight when faced with adversity. Then there is chitti, the robot, who is like a darling at first when he slowly learns to feel like a human and later scaring the living day lights out of you in his evil avatar. The evil laughter takes you back to the days of the yesteryear Rajini who shot to fame with roles having a grey streak. As he splits open a fellow robot's head and blurts out in style "Rwaaaaboooo" and later as he apes the sound of a sheep ("meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhh") when he finds out the black sheep, the man gives ample evidence of the acting talent that wasn't used much in his later larger than life movies. The movie is boring for only a few minutes in the 2nd half with stupid scenes of talking to mosquitos and all, but rest of it is just perfect. I guess the dubbed version in Hindi won't work because everything from the dialogues to the lyrics will lose its beauty when translated. The dubbing is bound to flop. And this is the best Rajini movie in a long time, maybe after Padayappa[I dint like Sivaji much, chandramukhi was a bad clone of manichitrathazhu, I dint care to watch kuselan and Baba]. Anyway, there are no second thoughts. Just, get in and get your mind blowed into a 1000 pieces. This is superstar version 2.0.

your crusader Praveen

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 07, 2010 at Thursday, October 07, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



Great article buddy! Hope this movie kick starts SciFi movies in India

4:40 AM

I'm amazed as to how someone could build a cult following of this scale!

7:37 AM

nice post man.. very neutral.. I sure will get overboard if i post something about him.. About the movie, i thot it'll look like some stupid sci fi with bad visuals (thou i sure wud have watched it 100 times jus for rajini). But the second half was too good.. His villianous role was jus amazing. He shud do a full fledged villain role. Only prob, no one wud b ready to do the hero role in the movie.. :P

9:47 PM

Awesome..Rajini rocks \m/!!

10:27 PM

An amazing post. I agree with almost the whole post. I was plannin to write precisely the same stuff! :O!!
To the one and only Superstar and Thalaivar!! DOT!!

3:33 AM

Beautiful post! a perfect answer to all rajni fans for all those negative publicity.

He is simple man that creates wonders with his movies... as indian doesnt hav any one else like him to talk abt.. we can understand his onscreen n offscreen charisma..

1:49 PM

Awesome ...great to see not just a review but a write-up on the great man himself :-)
I think the beauty of it is that.. Rajnikanth did not stop being a human being in spite of growing into a superstar. His simplicity is what keeps him apart from the rest...

9:33 AM

Well researched, as usual, Praveen, and some real insights into Rajnikanth's persona as well. You do make a valid point when you say that he appears in public, sans make up as his own normal self. I guess it shows his self esteem is very high, and probably it shows his integrity too!

Nice one, which has made me a bit more empathetic perhaps towards Rajni... :D!

12:06 PM

yenaku sana venu DOT

12:36 AM

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