Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rajinikanth: The Phenomena

My classmate Somyajulu did not even know how to play Volleyball. When the Kamala Subramaniam School Volley Ball team from Thanjavur set out towards a Mayavaram based volley ball knock-out tournament, we told our parents that we'd return late at night because we expected to go a fair distance into the knock out. At 9:35 AM we were knocked out in the first round by some unknown team from Sirkazhi. We had the entire day at our disposal. A 'matter' movie was out of the window; our 'newly married' P.D was not that close to us. So we decided to go for the morning show of the latest Rajinikanth movie - 'Annamalai'. We got tickets (Rs. 1.50) thirty minutes after the movie had started and walked in. During the interval, Sowmyajulu, who had tagged along with us, stood there talking to me with a cup of coffee in his hand. I whispered in his ear "this movie is a copy of a Rakesh Roshan hindi movie". I needn't have. But then I am not Narada for a joke. To which, Somyajulu replied in proper Thanjai Thamizh, "dei.... all this Rajinikanth is humbug. There is no story in this movie. Complete fluff. People are making a big fuss....". The sentence was not completed. Somebody behind Somyajulu had hit him so hard in the Spock region between his neck and shoulders. This was 70 days after the movie had been released. After the Rajini fan had burnt his heart out watching the movie 100 times. This was the time in the Rajini movie phase - where the 'family crowd' people would be given a chance to see the movie. Somyajulu hadn't whispered the shit that he spoke back to me. He had yelled it aloud, as if to prove a point. He probably thought that he was in the Sith land, and that the force of the Rajini did not flow in the people around him. Now, I had coffee stains in my pant, and he had blood on his shirt; more importantly, our parents would want to know why


Imagine someone punching you right on the nose. There is a painfully nauseating feeling that you get when your nose getting jammed into your face. This is immediately followed by an un-namable rage. You don’t reason. You don't think. You react. It’s instinctive. Reflex action. An un-identifiable primitive instinct to hit back, lash out. Veri. Rage. A pure unbridled passion. Rajinikanth. The Rajini fan - an aching heart beating hard to see Rajini arrive on screen. A longing for that one un-subtle dialog he speaks for his fans. A thousand electric pulses emanating from neurons all over the body to be consumed by the sound of whistles that scream like a dragon unleashed during the introduction song. That is the essence of the Rajinikanth fan. The shout 'thalaivaa' is not a 'hello'. It is a war cry. It is reflex. An overwhelming emotion, affection, passion, and veri - that funnels itself through the larynx of the Rajini fan and manifests itself as this word. Rajini - It is not a mere name. It is a feeling. It is sensation. It is the sound that is heard when every house in Madras bursts a 1,000,000 wala on the morning of Deepavali. It’s the mother of all show biz. With due respect and no insult to Chiranjeevi, Mohanlal, Mamooty and Kamalhassan fans - there is no phenomena like the Rajini fan

A Bihari doctor, living in the U.S, once narrated a story where he was on a rowing boat that had originated from fisherman's cove near Madras, and was headed for a 2-3 km point into the sea, where rich people snorkeled. The doctor mentioned to the boat rower (for lack of a better term) "may be rajinikanth is fluff. Kamal hasan is better". The intense look on the boat rower's face, the mumbled curses emanating from his mouth as he rowed hard in fury convinced the doctor that there would be no boat waiting for him after he emerged from the snorkel dip. He quickly said "thalaivaa" and peace was restored. The same boat rower would bitch about his wife, mother, and probably even god. But never Rajini. Even if Rajini was in the Himalayas and couldn’t hear him.

Wherever I went Thirunelveli, Madurai, Vellore, Thanjavur - I was viewed with suspicion. Maybe it’s written on my face that I am truly a Kamal fan inside. People would check instantly. 'Rajini'a Kamal'a?' they'd ask. Most Kamal fans are Rajini fans in the same way that all squares are rectangles. We may fit the definition. But we retain our true perfect shape of the square and negate the corolary. Everywhere in Madras, Rajini is the talk of the city. Yesterday, I went to MGM, Mayajaal, beasant nagar beach, spencers plaza, and Mathura restaurant. Everywhere someone had to say something about Rajini. One person who accompanied me narrated how he cried out of unbelievable pain when Rajini was beaten up in Baasha. He suspiciously enquired as to why I did not like the 'Vaji Vaji Sivaji' song. 'The tune and lyrics are good, why are you saying its not good' - and I had to explain that only the segment, which contains the words 'vaji vaji' is bad the rest of the song is good. He stopped giving me the 'I-am-disgusted-with-you' look. Phew! Close call. You don't cross swords with a Rajini fan. Ask me. I am married to one. The radio shows, TV, tea stalls, and chettinaad vidyashram school all have some advertisement or program on Rajini. There is constantly someone mimicking his voice. All other producers have stopped releasing movies this entire month. No one outside of Sowcarpet will be watching the arbit Hindi movie that will get released (in casino) this Friday. Someone literally asked my sister-in-law's 3 year old baby - "who is superstar" and it said Rajini.

And then the technical arguments. I mentioned 'Annamalai' was the first movie where the James bond like 'Super Star' gig appears before the start of every Rajini movie. The one which has Annamalai's theme music. I gave credit to K.Balachandar's (and Asst Suresh Krishna) team for again cranking up the Rajini phenomenon up a notch. There was someone to disagree and argue with me. It is a well known fact that Kalaipuli.S. Dhanu annointed the title of 'Super star'. But what movie was that? When did Rajini change his hair style from the left-right parted Vakudu style to the free flowing 'disco' hair-cut style? My answer was 'Rajadhi Raja'. Someone argued. I wrote a popular post on Rajini movies and the opening day extravaganza. Many appreciated it. Some did not. A forum was created to disagree with it and discuss how a 'stupid' kamal hasan fan does not even know the release dates of Rajini movies in proper order. They didn't get the point. The post wasn't an archive of his release dates. It was about something else. But who cares? Life is an argument. Everybody and their failing memory (that’s me) is an expert.

Annamalai was the movie that jump-started Rajini to a new dimension. Unleashing a powerful new Rajinikanth for the 90s. The one dialog that he speaks to Vinu Chakravarthi catapulted him to a stratosphere, unimaginable to any artist that I know of. Sachin Tendulkar doesn't even come close. Maybe Beatles or MJ can claim to have commanded such terrific, ferocious and bloody fealty. It’s been close to 15 years since that dialog. He is at the evening of his career. Does one movie every two years. It is obvious that 'Sivaji' will be among his last few movies. It is has been and will be a pleasure to enjoy this phenomenon. The Rajinikanth phenomena will not exist everywhere or even in Thamizh Naadu through eternity. Let’s enjoy it while we can. In 5 years, he will be a sweet memory - where people would say 'why the fuss? Its not like this is a premiere of a Rajinikanth movie', or simply 'Vijay doesn't even compare'. We have one or two moments ahead of us where the audience will roar in anticipation of their hero. Where people will stand overnight for a current-booking ticket. Where 10 seconds before the introduction song, you can't even hear yourself thinking. The thunder and the roar that happens when the name 'Rajinikanth' flashes on the screen, when the hero makes his appearance is an out of body experience. Surreal. See it in Per-Inba-Vilas Theater in Thirunelveli, where there are special lights on the side of the screen that will illuminate and flash when Rajini makes his appearance. See it in Udhayam, Albert (along with Rajini himself), Sathyam, Devi, Abirami, and Kamala (Thanjavur). The Rajini show may be slowly winding up but its coming to a theater near you at this moment. Thalaivaa.


Anonymous said...

>>"Most Kamal fans are Rajini fans in the same way that all squares are rectangles."

Whhaaatt thhee fucckk! What the fuck, I say!

>>"When did Rajini change his hair style from the left-right parted Vakudu style to the free flowing 'disco' hair-cut style? My answer was 'Rajadhi Raja'."
Just as a fyi, he has had the same hairstyle even in Maaveeran, Oor Kaavalan, Manidhan, Guru Sishyan etc. (all of which came before) which must also have been few of the earliest instances.

Gasquet Fan said...

onnume puriyala. Glad I am not in Madras. Here nobody cares about Rajni and his charisma.

Hawkeye said...


/* Whhaaatt thhee fucckk! What the fuck, I say! */

controversial ethavthu sollalainna namakku thookam varathu :-) but i am assuming you are angry that I insulted you as a kamal fan :-)

/*Just as a fyi, he has had the same hairstyle even in Maaveeran, Oor Kaavalan, Manidhan, Guru Sishyan etc. (all of which came before) which must also have been few of the earliest instances. */

theriyumappa theriyum. athaan offline panna thappa offline/online ella edathilum othukitten


i feel sorry for you. burn down the place where you currently stay and come to rajini - like the way hanuman burnt down lanka and came to rama.

Rastafari said...


Nilu, take note

Anonymous said...

Not really angry or insulted, but, come now, the analogy, that's not true!
It's only fair to say that most of the die-hard Kamal fans spent most of their childhood fighting it out painfully with easily outnumbering Rajini fans, claiming that Kamal is "the better actor, acts in better films, Rajini stars in mindless films and is mindless himself," so on and so forth, clarifying that "one must not confuse the actor-star with the man," defending Kamal Haasan for appearing on screen donning only a Komananm in 16 Vayathinile and what not!

In retrospect, I've actually liked the other fellow in handful of movies, but can't call myself a fan. For the record, Vadivelu for me has a greater screen presence than Rajini. (Enakku mattum thookkam varumaa?)

Hawkeye said...




/*claiming that Kamal is "the better actor, acts in better films, Rajini stars in mindless films and is mindless himself," */

i think sensible rajini fans accept this.

Victor Guerra said...

My mamooty and mohanlal are being unfairly ignored due to your write-ups on Kamal and Rajini...
I tell you, one fine day, even my mamooty and mohanlal will be honoured with those 'extra lights' on the screen...God is there.


Blogeswari said...

edho eppadiyo, I have my first day first show tickets reserved. I am going alone...never mind the 'idi' mannargal

Thalaivaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa :)

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, I don't really crave for that kind of recognition (for Kamal, that is) anymore. Also, I wouldn't really say some Rajini fan who doesn't think "Kamal is the better actor" is insensible as such. Nor would I claim that those fans who concede that he's the "better actor" are sensible!

As I said, I've actually liked Rajini -- figured this out mostly in retrospect, as an actor and certainly appreciate his presence as a towering icon of our times, but, that's about it. Charm, screen presence 'laam periya vaarthai. In which case, I'd go back to asserting that Kai Pulla rocks.

Rajini Fan said...


veri. right word. no other word.

that one paragrapgh. pul arichi pochu ba. supera ezhuthiputte.

dei baadu said...

i am 100% sure ithu nakkal. i know you very well. dei yenda ellaraiyum emathara. athuvum ippadi nakkal panni emathara. un nakkalukku alave illaya. nee rajini fana. avana ippadi hype pannirukke. antha 'one para' romba over. well written but knowing you romba nakkal.ithellam double meaning nakkal. naan namba maaten.

vatsan said...

for a rajini fan, all theatres outside albert are non existent :) simple.

satyam is a whore, its now a stupid multiplex, angai sivaji partha velaiku aagathu. only Albert

Karthik Sriram said...

My friend who is in India wrote back to me as"

" Being in Chennai, I thought I will pass on some 'Rajini mania' news from here -
Every major news channel - CNN-IBN, Headlies Today, NDTV, Times Now are running a feature on Rajini for atleast 3 mins every hour. I spend atleast a few hours in a day watching these channels. In addition, channels like Gemini, SUN, Udhaya are also running features for Rajini. Every FM channel is talking about Sivaji. The Hindu and Express have Sivaji news everyday. I dont know what to say, the hype is overwhelming. My freind's office has purchased 550 tickets for its employees and doing an internal draw to hand them out to employees. It seems Wipro and Infy etc has warned employees that they should not take the day off on Jun 15. Landmark, Chennai Citi Center and other hot hangots in Chennai are auctioning Sivaji tkts for charitable causes.

Its unbelivable, but true. Everybody's car has a Sivaji MP3 CD playing...."

Superstar yaarunu ketaa.....

Karthik Sriram said...

waiting for ur review after the preview!!!

Vee Cee said...

if {sensible rajini fan}
then {accept kamal better actor}

the above does not imply
if {think kamal better actor}
then {sensible}.

if {don't think kamal better actor}
then {god help you}.

if {think rajini fans are idiots}
then {try keeping it to yourself}
failing which {god help you}.

Anonymous said...

Dei B,
Call when you get a chance. I have emailed my tele # to you. Lets see if we can meet up. Illena email me your contact # at (myname)


Anonymous said...

>>"if {sensible rajini fan}
then {accept kamal better actor}

the above does not imply
if {think kamal better actor}
then {sensible}.

I didn't say it does, Vee Cee, just in case you were responding to my last comment. I was just putting my own disclaimers regarding the nonexistent "fan-connoisseur" dichotomy!

But, that was really good! I don't agree with you, though (which means I can help myself!).

c2c said...

Preview show? You lucky dog :-D Managed to grab a friday evening show here in Chicago. Looking forward to the 'Rajni mania' after a long long time. Once a hardcore rajni fan, I'm hoping to be reminded of what it used to be like. For probably one last time!

Balaji said...

not being a long-time reader, i don't know the rajni fan/kamal fan dichotomy in u. But that was a fantastic post. The superlatives were bang on and can't be used for any other actor anywhere. The feelings one feels at a rajni show the first few days were superbly described. Kudos!

PS: regarding rajni/kamal - a long time reader at my blog said he'd call me a rajni fan(atic) and a kamal admirer. i think i agree :)

Vee Cee said...

zero: nonexistent fan-conoisseur dichotomy

i am not denying that as a general rule, either.

but in certain specific know.....the exception that proves the rule and all that fun stuff.

only issue we disagree on - you think rajini fans who don't think kamal is a better actor are not idiots!!!!
do you know of any blogging rajini fans who don't think kamal is a better actor? please provide info.

Karthik Sriram said...

how was the movie?

Anonymous said...


Anupadmaja said...


Karthik Sriram said...

one of my friends told me this:

1st half decent comedy

2nd half taru maru

and in style, seems thalaivar comes as "six"avathar!?!?!

Blogeswari said...

What do you mean by thaaru maaru Karthik?

Anonymous said...

I am a slient reader of your blogs, you blog on Rajinikanth made me write a comment, the same incident (I shd call accident) happened with me in my school days,while we were watching Baasha on our way back from our excursion from Kodaikannal. I was passively commenting on his dance skills, next thing I heard a big thud, I couldnt understand whats happening, then realized one of my classmate-ardent fan of Rajini got annoyed and slapped me on the right side of my face, I still remember the slap everytime I watch Rajini on the screen.
The irony is I am also an ardent fan of our "thalaivar" and try to watch his movies within the first week (depending on the availbility of tickets)
- Eagerly waiting for our Boss

Karthik Sriram said...

In college lingo, tharu maru = awesome!

Karthik Sriram said...

One review is here:

hawkeye, enge poiteenga... reveiw ezhudhunga......

Blogeswari said...

Review daane? nimittukku nimit update on

sexy said...