December 12, 2012 Y. Sunita Chowdhary
A pregnant woman went to the theatre to catch up with a Rajini movie, she developed pains and was rushed to the hospital. When the baby was born, she took a second to name him Rajinikanth. Now the boy a software engineer in the US makes sure his old mother gets to watch the film despite his absence.
Idol worship, the veneration of matinee idols, in South India is not a new phenomenon but it requires a psychologist to find an explanation for the almost inexplicable charisma of actors like Rajinikant; he is number one on the list of celebrities whom the public blindly trusts - much more than any politician. Despite the satires on his style and supremacy on the net, his word is the Gospel. On the eve of his birthday that falls on a unique date 12-12-12, fans and celebrities share their thoughts on what makes Rajini a lovable star.
Actor and Minister for Tourism Chiranjeevi and Rajinikanth worked in Ranuva Veeran and Mappillai. He says he is a brightest star in Indian cinema and terms the word 'Rajinikanth' magical and a mesmerising. Magic because it does wonders to the box-office and has taken collections to a peak level.
Reminiscing he says, "During the 70s at the Madras Film Institute, he had visited us, I was a couple of years junior to him and he had by then made his mark in the three or four films that he had already worked in. He shared his experiences with us and gave us suggestions. He was a source of inspiration to so many aspiring heroes at a time when film people believed looks and colour were imperative to act as a hero. With his unconventional looks, he set a trend.
In Athaku Yamudu Ammayiki Mogudu remake Mappillai, Rajini was the hero. A character not present in Telugu was created in Tamil for me on his insistence. On a personal level, a friend in need is a friend indeed holds good for him. He is always there when you are going through low moments in your life lending his shoulder. He is just not an actor but a star with a social responsibility. I pray to God to keep him in the pink of health and wish him a very happy birthday."
Riaz, aged 50 is Rajini's die-hard fan and sees 6 shows of the film on the release day. Ask him to tell us something about Rajini Sir, he waxes eloquent, "In 1983 when Andha Kanoon was released, the north Indian heroines commented that their drivers are far better looking than Rajinikanth. Now Aishwarya Rai acted with him and many beauty queens are dying to be seen albeit a minute with him.
He is aloof at the same time keeps a track of what's going on in the industry, why a particular film is stuck in the cans. He gets embarrassed when people shower compliments. When he walks, glances at us, we go into a trance, such is his magnetism. He still preserves his cars, just recently he started using an Innova. For the first time we saw him wear a suit to Amitabh Bachchan's birthday, otherwise we see him only in his favourite kurta and veshti.
He is very accessible, he doesn't use a mobile but call him on the landline, either he takes the call or the message is noted down. Gets excited after seeing a good film and immediately calls the technicians, cast and congratulates them."
Ashwini Dutt who produced Kathanayakudu recollects observing Rajinikanth from 1978 onwards. "He is a God amongst humans. He is very affectionate and has immense respect for the producers and their production houses. He called me and gave me the call sheet when hundreds of people were waiting to make a movie with him. It was unexpected. We cannot weigh his talent, the method and ease with which he acts and entertains young and old.
His behaviour is as great as his acting on screen, very cultured person. I am waiting for a sweet call from him, wish to do another film with him." There is a reason why people equate him to god. Rajini had not only helped senior artistes like Pandari Bai, he even made fixed deposits in the accounts of conductors who helped him in the initial stages of his life. Reports about him returning the money to the distributors who lost money on 'Baba' made him popular and richer in people's hearts.
Secretary of Producers' Council Prasanna Kumar says Rajini had no craze in Andhra Pradesh before Basha but it grew by leaps and bounds after it's release and even his role in Pedarayudu helped in his image building. He quips, "Kamal Hassan's rating slipped after Basha's release. Whether it is his charity, spirituality, simplicity that got him closer to people, one thing is indisputable, he breaks his records.
Adults did not like Robot but the complete family accompanied the children when the latter wanted to see it. His films have a social message too."
Mahesh Babu avers, "I met him when I was very young, may be around 2 or 3 times. I remember being amazed at his simplicity. I see all his films, what else can I say about him? The energy he carries is astounding. He is the biggest star that India had ever produced and no one can be like him ever. Our studio made a film Maaveeran with him."
Director Sreenu Vaitla describes the actor as pride of Indian cinema. Vaitla recollects having watched Rajini's film in Chennai and describes the release of his film as the coming of a group of festivals at one time. He adds, "There is some power that leads him, there is something about him that makes people feel that he belongs to us, maybe his smile. No hero shows heroism at such a peak level like Rajini does, just imagining what if he were to do a straight Telugu film."
Rajini acted in D. Ramanaidu's Tamil film in 1982 Thanikattu Raja; The producer avers that despite so many years, he still looks like a boy and his charisma is intact. Everytime he sees me he says we should do a film together but tell me is it possible to produce a film with Rajinikant? You need crores.