As, i saw the images in the mail, the first thought that came to my mind was, "What the hell? Why are people so damn crazy about this guy? Surely, he cannot be a bigger star than Amitabh Bachchan and the BigB's movies would never draw such a huge interest on the first day that people will go absolutely crazy, then why the people here are so desperate to catch up on the movie on the first day itself. Can't they wait a little longer to watch it." I had a chat with a colleague of mine who happened to be of the same view as I was on this matter. While discussing with him, I found out that around 20 people from my building(mostly Tamilians) had bunked office that day to watch the 12 noon show and almost half of Infosys was absent on Friday in Chennai office for the same reasons.
I decided to forward the mail to some of my friends to let them know how insane people can get. One of my friend's boss(not a big Rajni fan) was really happy to see those images and told him to forward it to him as he wanted to show it to his wife who was insistent on going for the movie on the first day.
In sheer curiosity, I went and chatted to a couple of other colleagues who knew a thing or two about him. Of course, I always knew that he is a superstar in south and has a huge fan following but, i had absolutely no idea about the extent to which his fans love him here. My colleagues told me that in Tamil Nadu he is next to god and If someone utters even a single word against the superstar he might just end up in the hospital for a week. In Andhra also, he has a huge fan following but nothing compared to what he has in Tamil Nadu. However,in Kerala and Karnataka, he does not command the same respect. I was also under the impression that Rajni's fan base is in south India only but to my surprise, I found out that he has a huge fanship outside India as well, especially in south eastern Asia, people are as crazy about him as they are here. There was some news in today's TOI that there was a brawl at a theatre in malaysia as some people were denied tickets on the first day.
Born in maharastra and later working as a conductor in BMTC buses here in bangalore, Rajnikanth started his career in the mid 70's as a villain with mostly Kamal hasan in the lead. After some initial struggle, his career really took off in the mid 80's after doing some complete masala movies. Typical Rajni movies are famous for their one liners. It may look funny to most of us, the way he lights a ciggaritte, puts on his sunglasses, ties his scarf or for that matter the way he salutes, but i guess this is what Rajnikanth is all about. His unconventional looks would not have taken him so far. He has fans in equal numbers in almost every age group and barring Amitabh Bachchan no other indian actor has been able scale such heights.
It might be interesting, if we juxtapose the careers of the two superstars. According to me they are the two biggest superstars ever in indian cinema. There have been the likes of SRK in hindi, Chiranjeevi in telugu, Uttam kumar in Bangla etc but those two will always be there at the top. Although Mr.Bachchan draws a wider audience but thats primarily because, hindi as a language is understood by a larger section of the poulation than Tamil. However, according to me like Amitabh, Rajni should also start playing his age in his movies, of course in central roles. The superstar is in the 58th year of his life and seeing him romancing a 21 year old girl in his latest flick, Shivaji, and dancing around in a blonde wig was a little hard for me to digest. Even Amitabh romanced Tabu in Cheeni Kum but he did play a 64 year old in the movie.
Other facts that did interest me were, the Big B charges 3 crore per movie while Rajni charges a whopping 35 crore. However, Rajni does only one movie every 2 years copmared to BigB's 7-8 an year. The most interesting fact that i saw in a news channel was that BigB has only 20 registered fan clubs worldwide compare to Rajni's 63000+, which just gave me the shock of my life. This led me to think that even Amitabh has never had a kind of fanship which Rajni has acquired over the years.
In the end if you ask me, I might vote for Rajnikanth the superstar especially after knowing a lot about him in the last couple of days, but I'll anyday vote for Amitabh Bachchan the actor.Kudos to both of them for having made india proud. Long live Indian cinema!!!