Being Rajinikanth

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Three decades back, a 34 year old man, 5.10, dark skinned with a rugged body, bearded and with a mop of thick straight hair, dressed in a worn-out suit, opened the gate of a house. This was his first scene on the silver screen and he was playing a miniscule role as a cancer patient. The Tamil movie was “Apoorva Ragangal”. It is still unconfirmed if he got paid for that act.  Cut to the present, the same man, still dark, a little frail, with a salt n pepper wig and an original snow white beard, dressed in a classy suit steps out and this time the gates open for him and he walks out with a swag to a terrific background score and a thunderous earth shattering applause in 5000 theatres across the globe. The name of the movie is “Kabali” and unconfirmed reports say that the actor was paid 80 crores for this monstrous hit.


Between these two movies, Rajinikanth has scripted perhaps the greatest fairy tale to originate out of the Indian Film Industry. To try and unravel the “Rajinikanth myth” would be preposterous, for you would find a journey that survived the onslaught of the powerful in his formal years, surmounted his illustrious contemporaries thereon and presently thwarts the blitz of the younger brigade to reign as the undisputed “Superstar” Tamil Cinema has ever and will probably never see. The trip has been a dramatic and gigantic roller coaster ride that has endured pain, obstacles, failures, and insults, but has also touched insane peaks of fame, money and success, and yet, the juggernaut shows no signs of stopping. To try and decipher the “Superstardom” of Rajinikanth would be futile as it would be impossible to single out one piece to attribute the success of this dark man to spawn the kind of mass hysteria that he commands. It could be the benignant camera in that era that saw no disparity in the skin of this man, for in an industry where nothing is “fair” except the fair skin, it mattered a lot.


Flipping the pages of his career and trying to invoke his approach towards “superstardom” would not help anyone achieve it. From doing menial jobs as a coolie to hopping in and off the bus as a bus conductor to now having an airplane plastered with his image it can only overawe anyone who reads his history. Life has not been kind to him. In his own words “All I wanted was a pack of Wills cigarette and a Vespa scooter”, this was all that he had wished for. During his earlier hey days ,success and money took a toll on Rajinikanth so much that he ignored his health and stressed himself to a mental imbalance that made him decide to give up on everything that he owned. It was his closest circle that made him forego his decision and got him back on track. Since then a reformed Rajinikanth took solace in spirituality and went on a reconciliation trip that made him practice imperviousness towards fame and wealth, a habit in him that still endures. Scaling the peaks of fame and wealth from the depths of uncertainty humbled him so much that he continues to profess humility, a character that is identified as his greatest virtue by many. Having been a rocket launched into the space of prominence and riches from penury, he believed that some force was acting upon him that was so indulgent that, whatever he did attain fame. He began his search for that guiding force and that took him to the caves of Himalayas every year to feel lonely and absolve himself from the avariciousness that surrounded him wherever he went.


For a man who is loved by his legion of fans that overruns boundaries, caste, colour or creed he still is a wanderer with a false sense of belonging. The state of his origin refuses to acknowledge him; the state of his birth had given him away and the state where he has been adopted still wonders where his loyalty lies. The frequent tensions between his state of birth and his adopted state do not make things easy for him and through every friction he has had to come out to prove his chastity towards his adopted state. His detractors dissect every action of his on the most serious topics as well as the most frivolous ones and also use their choicest resources to sunder his inactions and disseminate them for public consumption. But the general media has always been kind to him throughout his travails.


Rajinikanth rarely talks and very rarely gives interviews. Most of the information about him is gathered and the rest are snippets gleaned from people who have worked with him and know him well.  The darling of the masses, the functions he attends skyrockets the TRP’s.  He uses occasions like these to spell out what is on his mind and his outlook towards life and his philosophy. He has never used any of these platforms to retaliate against any squabbles nor score brownie points.


The inexplicable phenomenon that is Rajinikanth is hard to fathom. We could pore over every move of his or read every word that he has said or try and scrutinize every action of his to comprehend the incomprehensible success and fame that Rajinikanth enjoys and yet we will fall short in decoding it. Rajinikanth does not endorse any brands and his inconspicuousness from everything, but movies, contributes to the overwhelming obsession to see him on screen.  The craze for this 65 year old man from 6 to 60 is the envy of stars and politicians alike. His screen charisma remains unparalleled to this date. His fans feel it has all to do with the hand of God on him while the non believers point to the invisible “fortune” that seems to choose only him. The reclusive Superstar owes it all to the Almighty and he begins every speech by thanking his fans, calling them as gods and the reason he is alive. From Shivaji Rao Gaekwad to Rajinikanth it’s a journey that can never be told by anyone but him, for they can never be another him.


Being Rajinikanth is unlike anyone!!!

Shreesha B.U
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