And, how! His film Robot (Endhiran) released with an unheard of 2,000 prints worldwide at a Rs 160-crore budget and made Rs 950 million in the opening weekend.
Remarks trade analyst Taran Adarsh, ” Rajinikanth is the ultimate star of the masses. It’s not as if he’s unaware of his stardom but he’s warm, friendly and down-to-earth when you meet him. His humility shines through and this is what his fans pick up on.”
In the South, which is given to hero worshipping its stars, the actor’s larger-than-life persona is comparable only to MG Ramachandran, with his good guy image transcending from reel to real life. Analyses Tamil film writer Gnani Sankaran, “When MGR and Sivaji Ganesan vacated the film scene in late Seventies, Kamal moulded himself after Sivaji, who played unusual roles. Rajini fashioned himself after MGR, playing the do-gooder, Superman hero, protector of women and family values.” He adds, “Tamilians have always been involved with the personality cult, since the days of the freedom movement. The personality cult is vital both in politics and cinema for commercial success. Here, the two are married!”
While onscreen, the ‘Boss’ (Thalaivar) Rajinikanth can split a bullet into two to kill villains, in real life, stands a man who greets guests to his daughter’s wedding personally, accompanied by his wife. He could be the elderly, balding, dhoticlad father-next-door. As filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma tweeted, “A star requires great looks, good height, versatile acting, six-pack body, etc. And if one has none of the above he will become superstar Rajini.”
Chennai-based film historian Theodore Baskaran believes Tamilians are prone to hero worship, from religious icons to politicians and actors. He, however, doesn’t approve of the hype over Rajinikanth. According to him, MGR was the biggest star ever, as his loyal fan base translated into a strong constituency of votes too. “Rajinikanth’s fans love him for what he portrays on screen.”
However, that doesn’t stop fans from turning out at 4 am to catch the first show of Rajinikanth’s film, bathing his cutouts with milk, even beer and cola. A fan said on his object of worship, “He is not like any other actor. His biggest movie is out today and he is a superstar, but I am sure he is sitting at home calmly, without even caring to shave his beard. Such is his simplicity.” Read Full Story from the Publisher.