Blond Rajinikanth

How much more are you going to milk Rajinikanth?

The madness of Kabali has rained down on the nation, and I’m yet to watch the film.

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’ll know I’m not a fan of over-the-top masala potboilers. I was curious to see how critics would react to the film, as it is utterly futile to review a Rajinikanth film. Like asking Virat Kohli to deliver a speech in Sanskrit, or Salman Khan to solve a calculus problem.

I was curious to see how critics react to Kabali for two reasons – 1. Most of the critics are from up north, and have minimal exposure or understanding of the aesthetics of South Indian cinema. 2. No critic is going to outright bash the film, as they’d a Salman Khan or Sanjay Dutt film.

I watched the trailer of the film, and I’m sorry to say it evoked no interest in me to go watch it. If anything, the news of 50,000 litres of milk being poured over a stupid cardboard cut-out repulsed me.

The first time I came across the Rajinikanth phenomenon was during my school days. My friends from Tamil Nadu would rave about his films, narrate the stories, and enact the scenes. I heard the stories of most of his 90s hits – Padayappa, Baashha, Muthu, Arunachalam – before watching them on television.

In the beginning, I found it all too amusing. That such a man was the biggest star. I found it ridiculous that Kamal Haasan, who puts in so much into his films, is side-lined by a guy who flips cigarettes into the air and shoots them instead of asking for a lighter.

As I grew older and wiser, and studied Film Studies as part of my Masters and MPhil, I have realised that one man’s ridiculous is another man’s norm. That Rajinikanth is not too different from Tom Cruise who keeps saving the world and dating young girls every few years.

But if you remove the settings, every single Rajinikanth film is essentially the same – one man changing the scenario around him. A man without any weakness, flaw, or trait that would take away from the cult that he carries around like an aura.

I understand fan-worship. I understand devoutly devotion to the man, to an extent where the dynamics of the game don’t matter anymore. The 90s created two such superstars – Sachin Tendulkar and Rajinikanth – both demigods for their fans. The two of them are humble, successful, and polite – in short, they symbolise Indian values that have been revered over the ages.

And yet, like Sachin Tendulkar in his last few years, how good has Rajinikanth really been? Endhiran was a Shankar wet-dream, Sivaji was loud to the point of being funny, Lingaa and Kochadaiiyaan fell into the category of My Friend Ganesha and Bal Ganesh.

And yet, every single film of his continues to revolve around him. Every single film expects him to fight goons, send them flying into the air, struggle with dance moves, romance women half his age – it’s all cringe-worthy, to be honest. The best action scenes in his films are laughable, the romantic scenes seem weird at four different levels – does he really need all this?

While it may pass off as devotion in today’s times, history will laugh at these films. The future generation will make jokes and memes about it, since the films are dishonest in their basic motive – to tell a story. Which is why I like to ask Rajinikanth fans – do you really love the man?

Or do you love what you like to see of him?

If you truly loved him, you’d let him age gracefully. You’d let him play his age, choose films where he has to utilise some of the acting chops that got him his fame in the first place. How long is he going to be dancing for you morons? He looks weak, washed out, and uncomfortable in the fight sequences. How long does he have to keep churning out stuff so you guys can put up a fuck-all update on Facebook and feel ‘proud’ about him?

I wonder what he thinks of his movies. I wonder if they get him excited in the first place. He never gives interviews or promotes his films. Even when he does, he is polite and humble, to the extent where he called Aishwarya Rai a tremendous actor. So one will never know!

Let him go, guys!

From a conductor of state-run buses, he has come this far on his own. He didn’t need you, or your stupid Facebook posts, or all those liters of precious milk poured over his cut-out.

The guy deserves a break. A retirement plan. The choice to choose a film where he doesn’t seem like the ambassador for calcium tablets.

Let go of Rajinikanth. He deserves a more benevolent look-back from history.

But mostly, he deserves a break from you guys!

8 thoughts on “How much more are you going to milk Rajinikanth?

  1. Indolent Insomniac

    Until recently, I was of the same opinion as you are. But I decided to watch some of his movies, however unbearable they may be, in order to get to the bottom of this. It was during this ordeal that I understood that his films never were marketed or meant to be good cinema. They were always entertainers. The plot was half decent and more emphasis was given to the larger than life characters and the punch dialogues. The motive is simple. Characterize the antagonist as a despicable, dirty villain and have him bashed in the end by the caring and good hearted simpleton – Rajini.
    To answer your question, does he really need this? Yes, and no. Yes because he wouldn’t be doing this if he didn’t want to. No because the producers and directors need him more than he needs them.
    So, I decided to let go of my contempt for such over the top films and have learnt to live and let live. It’s the only way I can justify calling his films as art.

    Sorry, if I got carried away. You write so well that it just compelled me to comment. 😀

  2. Tanay Gurjar

    Great post Hriday….the cult is similar to Salmans or Modi’s….people want to emulate not the person…but the image which that person crafts of himself using a pr machinery. One can only hope of maturity visiting the shores of our country soon

  3. Badri

    Surely you would have heard of the proverb “Make hay while the sun shines’ and that is what is happening with Rajini. And it would be dishonest to say that he is an unwilling participant in the entire scheme of things.

    I only wish the producers, the directors and Rajini spend more effort and time in creating a strong storyline and script instead of building the hype. Rajini fans will not like this but let the truth be said aloud.

    Thanks for the perspective. Keep writing

  4. Shanky

    I m very sorry to say, but I stumbled upon your article. It’s ok to have an opinion but it’s not right if one were to talk without complete knowledge. No two Rajini films are alike nor do they have the same stories. It’s a myth created by a great chunck of Northies and a few advertising miscreants, thanks to his shoddy stint with Hindi Films. Rajini’s films are deeply philosophical and offer hope to a common man, is why he is so deeply loved. Yes! few of his action scenes are over the top but which Khan’s films aren’t? Take Muthu for that matter, it has a great insight on how useless money is without wisdom or Basha, which speaks about sticking to ethics come what may. I request you to talk to a sensible south Indian film viewer about Rajini’s films. you might consider re-writing this.

    1. Hriday Ranjan Post author

      Ahem, I’m South Indian. Have grown up here in South India. I’m also a research scholar whose work pertains to South Indian cinema, so I’m sure this is not a Northie ranting about a culture he doesn’t understand!! Have a good day, man! 🙂

  5. Devika

    ” The choice to choose a film where he doesn’t seem like the ambassador for calcium tablets”- again, khush kar dete hain aap.
    As a North Indian (unfortunately) I am obviously not familiar with most of his movies and I have always been a Kamal Hassan fan. But I remember this photograph that is my dad’s most cherished possession. He was able to catch the shooting of ‘Hum’ and you can see the joy in his face which he tries to shrug off as Amitabh Bacchan smiles into the camera with his hand around my dad’s shoulder, and Rajnikant looks by, very very coolly.

    Great post as always.


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