There’s no doubt that one of the biggest stars in Indian cinema is superstar Rajinikanth. He will be turning 65 on December 12, and the kind of frenzy he creates wherever he goes is phenomenal. Rajinikanth is currently in Malaysia shooting for his new film Kabali, and the film has created quite a stir across the country. Malaysia is Tamil cinema’s biggest overseas market, as there is a huge Tamil diaspora there who are huge fans of the ‘Thalaiva’.
Rajinikanth has been drawing unprecedented crowds during his one month shooting schedule in Malaysia. The Malaysian government may give him the title of ‘Datuk’, equivalent of a knighthood. As per reports, the Governor of Malacca Mohammad Khalil Yaakob a big fan of Rajinikanth, has requested the Malaysian government to bestow the honour on him.
A few years back the Malaysian government had given the title ‘Datuk’ to Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who had shot Don and Don 2 in Malaysia. The buzz is that Rajinikanth will be meeting the Malaysian prime minister during the shoot of Kabali.
Rajinikanth’s last release Lingaa directed by veteran KS Ravikumar collected over Rs 100 Crore worldwide, and was a below average grosser, compared to his earlier hits. In fact the superstar himself compensated some distributors in Tamil Nadu, who had paid record price for the film.
So a lot is riding on Kabali, which is his comeback film of sorts. The director of the film Pa Ranjith, had earlier made the critically acclaimed box-office hit Madras. For the first time, we will see Rajinikanth moving away from his regular set of commercial mass masala directors to work with a new gen filmmaker. There are rumours that Rajinikanth will not have any romantic scenes in the film.
In a way, Rajinikanth in his 60s is reinventing himself for new age audiences. He will be playing an ageing don in Kabali, who comes out of retirement to track down his daughter, who has been kidnapped by a rival gang. Radhika Apte will play the role of his wife and Dhansika will play his daughter. The director Ranjith in an interview has said that he is trying to break the superstar stereotype image with the film.
The hype and aura around Rajinikanth is still intact, as proved by his fanatic fan following. The superstar has also reached across to the new generation audiences through social media. His Twitter handle has more than 2 million followers.
As Kabali gets ready for a 2016 summer release, pre-shoot work on the superstar’s next film has already commenced. Though it is not official, the grapevine is abuzz that director Shankar, who made the blockbuster Endhiran (Robot in Hindi) is gearing up for a sequel in 3D. Shankar and the producers of Endhiran 2 (Robo 2) are trying to rope in Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the villain. There are additional rumours that Tamil actor Vikram (of Raavan and I fame) will play the bad guy.
Mohan Ram, actor and Tamil film historian sums up the superstar’s stardom, “Rajinikanth continues to hold sway as the biggest brand in south cinema. What is the secret? – He has kept his appeal real for all ages by his simplicity in acting and humbleness in real life.”