As I write this there are lakhs of people across various parts of the Country especially in the Southern States who are all sharing something unique- the joy of celebrating the arrival of the latest movie of their favourite movie star. All of them indeed are fans of the one & only Superstar-Rajnikanth. There are shows which started as early as 3.30 a.m today in various parts of Tamil Nadu for ‘Endhiran’, Director Shankar’s dream project with Rajnikanth, Aishwarya Rai & Danny Denzongpa in the lead. Combined with the Hindi (Robot) & Telugu (Robo) versions the movie is opening up to a mind boggling 2000 + screens Worldwide.
Reports have been positive so far and I’m sure this weekend will see lots of people across the globe, lapping up the movie. Which makes me ask the question- what is it that makes Rajni the phenomenon that he is? What makes people line up in anticipation months ahead of his film’s release and create the kind of buzz that’s unimaginable otherwise?Well the only answer to this could be – charisma. It’s the charisma of Rajnikanth that makes him come across as a larger than life phenomena and creates the aura around him.
The dynamics of the movie business has changed and today it’s the multiplexes which account for the bulk of the business though in terms of sheer numbers the single screens and cineplexes still are the majority. Gone are the days when we used to have 100 days (and later 50 days ) benchmark as the qualification for a hit status. In fact we were even used to silver jubilees ( 25 weeks ) and golden jubilees ( 50 weeks ) on a regular basis. But today it’s carpet bombing of theatres thats in vogue. Earlier when a Baasha or a Padayappa would release then outside South India except for select places like the good old Aurora Cinema in Matunga, Mumbai, there were hardly any other places to watch his films.
So much so that I remember so many people who would actually come down to Chennai or their respective home town from a Delhi/Mumbai during the release of a Rajni film. With Sivaji-The Boss all that changed. One single movie, which brought Shankar and Rajni together for the first time, soon changed the way exhibition/distribution of South Indian films happens in the rest of the country. Sivaji ( and later Dasavatharam ) showed that there is a market for a Rajnikanth ( and Kamal Haasan ) outside the regular perceived audience too. As Sivaji-The Boss opened to a wide number of multiplexes and single screens in Mumbai and opened up new markets like Pune, Delhi/NCR, Kolkata, Gujarat etc, more and more people started taking notice of South Indian films. Even for a film which failed miserably like Kuselan ( which had Rajnikanth in a cameo and not the lead role ) the buzz was quite prominent.
But while carpet bombing of theatres/multiplexes became regularised and the importance of the opening weekend became all the more pronounced, some things still remain the same. Shows starting at mid-nite / early morning still continue to be the norm for a Rajni movie and it’s not different for Endhiran either. Fans performing milk/beer abhishekam still continues. The buzz across media (online/offline/visual) continues to be strong. While I’m not trying to debate on whether its right or wrong, I certainly do acknowledge that it’s the charm associated with all these things also which lends that special touch to cinema.
Last time around when Sivaji-The Boss released, it was just the Tamil and the dubbed Telugu versions alone that released (the dubbed Hindi version came after ages). But this time the dubbed Hindi version is releasing simultaneously. Given that there is a strong opposition in the form of a frontline Hindi film like Anjaana Anjaani which is releasing; it’s commendable that Robot has managed to get a widespread release in the Hindi belt. In fact a few days ago while promoting Anjaana Anjaani in Hyderabad, Ranbir Kapoor is known to have told the people “You can watch our film if you don’t get tickets for Endhiran”. That in a nutshell tells us how strong the buzz is for Endhiran.
And it’s also an event that brings alike people of all kinds of all strata of society for the single reason- the need to be a part of the festivity. I have never been a true blue fan boy of Rajnikanth ( and I’m being honest here ) but I have always marvelled at the kind of hysteria the man is able to bring out with just a single action or a sentence spoken. So the day of a Rajnikanth movie release is the time when I go out and witness the phenomena for myself again and see the magic come alive. When Sivaji-The Boss released, I happened to be in Vijayawada on the Friday of release. Friends and acquaintances who have nothing to do with films were calling or sending me SMS’s and telling me how they have enjoyed their movie.
Having decided to watch it in Tamil the first time I cooled my heels till Sunday when I reached Chennai and could finally watch the movie. This time around I’m missing the action in Chennai as I’m in Mumbai but I’m trying to ensure that I’m still having my share of fun. I’m heading over now to watch Endhiran maybe twice (including at the Imax Dome in Wadala ) today and soak in the magic. So are you all set for the magic as well???
P.S- This was written at the time of Endhiran’s release in October 2010.