Superstar Rajnikanth turns 62: Why are we in awe of him without watching his films!
Rajinikanth is almost a mythical name now. He can spark up conversations and make strangers the best of friends without asking for a pay back, which means one doesn’t need to see his films to know him.
He has achieved an unbelievably ‘cult’ status among the youngsters who never bothered to watch his earlier films, like the films released before ‘Sivaji’ and ‘Enthiran’, leave aside the 70s films where he was featured as a scheming husband or a conniving, roadside rowdy.
The Rajinimania is unique and has a great fan following in North India as well where people hardly know what sort of roles he portrayed in ‘Chilakamma Cheppindi’ or ‘Shankar Salim Simon’ (Name sounds familiar!).
The situation can be compared to the times when Bruce Lee meant ‘sabka baap’. Who cared about his origin and how he trained, all that needed was a ‘khayy’ or ‘Khiyaa’ sound before punching in the air. Kids of those times, who have grown up to form a major chunk of the country’s vocal class, found the persona of such a man mesmerising. Don’t dare say that you didn’t hear the absolutely mindless stories about how Bruce Lee stopped a bullet on his chest by just tightening his muscles. Rajinikanth has become the oral form of Bruce Lee.
An average Bollywood buff would find it difficult to name the predecessors of Rajinikanth in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada but he knows Rajinikanth, well, about his jokes and illogical escapades. Then why and how Rajinikanth holds such a place for the people who haven’t seen him in his youth?
Rajinikanth means ‘Yanna Rascala’, Rajinikanth means splitting the bullet into two and Rajinikanth means catching the air tossed cigarette in style, the last one is the image that has remained with us forever.
Perhaps people fake their love for the actor in the beginning just to be a part of the ‘cool’ group, without realising that they are getting attracted towards his off-screen avatars.
One of these avatars is of an almost bald man. This surprises but very soon turns into a form of respect. In an era where stars are trying their best to look glamorous and alluring, someone is happy with his bald head! Who other than a satisfied and contended actor would do so!
He is political without politicising his conversations and opinions, demands and limits are clear for him and from him.
Rajini laughs on himself and filmmakers who cast him opposite younger actresses and talks about the hazards of being a film star in the same breath. It works on two levels, he earns respect for behaving as per his age and stamps his authority over the ultimate superstar position he enjoys.
Many of his films might not reach the northern part but the 80s generation still remember his antics in ‘Andha Kanoon‘, ‘Hum‘, ‘Geraftaar‘ and ‘Chaalbaaz‘. He has done 28 films in Hindi sans ‘Ra.One’ (Are you sure he was Rajnikanth!), this much is enough to keep him alive in our memories but his rags to riches story is more effective.
A normal face and regular built make him one of us which gets emphasised by his down to earth attitude. No one can claim to know the in and out of a public figure but his fellow actors always praise him, this adds more gravity to his already established aura.
The question ‘who is a real star’ comes to mind whenever Rajnikanth attends weddings or socially relevant functions. Over the years he has earned ‘respect’ and hasn’t ‘cultivated’ the notion of an untouchable superstar. It might look over simplified but Rajnikanth seems like an older member of family who works in film for livelihood.
Maintaining a distinct image is the biggest challenge for any celebrity but he does it without going the extra mile, he still presents himself as the raw, untamed film star.
Indians generally put sacrifice above any other personality trait and when they see Rajnikanth living as a commoner probably their respect for the man grows many times.
Today is his 62nd birthday and it’s an opportunity to thank him for all the Rajnikanth vs CID jokes and bridging the gap between fantasies and expectations. The icing on the cake is the date 12.12.12.
5 things you didn’t know about Superstar Rajnikanth
- Rajnikanth is 62 today. On this very special birthday – 12.12.12 – we’re celebrating with a list of facts that you may or may not know about him:
- Rajnikanth has made films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali and even English. But he’s never appeared in a Marathi film, despite it being his mother-tongue. He was born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad to Maharashtrian parents but grew up in Bangalore.
- Rajnikanth worked in any number of odd jobs when he was young, ending up as a bus conductor with the Karnataka transport corporation.
- Rajnikanth‘s favourite actor is Kamal Hassan, with whom he appeared in many films, playing villain to Kamal Hassan‘s hero.
- After the success of Sivaji, Rajnikanth‘s fee of Rs 26 crores made him the highest-paid Asian actor after Jackie Chan.
- Rajnikanth has not died on-screen for many years now. Directors fear that killing his character will send fans on a rampage.
Biography of Superstar Rajnikanth creates a buzz on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube
The date with its triple staccato repetition almost has the ring of a Rajnikanthian punch line to it. On 12.12.12, the 62nd birthday of Rajinikanth, some of the mystery surrounding the life of the iconic star of Tamil cinema will lift with the release of ‘Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography‘ by Naman Ramachandran.
Whether the book is as racy as an action-packed Rajni film will be known soon, but the pre-launch action on social media certainly has been, with a quirky campaign by Penguin India – a first of sorts for the publishing industry in India.
A Facebook game called ‘Find Rajini‘ operates on the premise that the evil Joker Ravanan has kidnapped the superstar, and only Rajinikanth‘s legion of fans can save him. The campaign also includes Facebook and Twitter feeds replete with Rajnikanth jokes. And, in true Rajnikanth style, the hype has peaked into a crescendo.
“In a week, the campaign has reached out to more than 5 lakh people,” says Hemali Sodhi, vice president, marketing, Penguin India. She claims that the campaign has broken records through “selected targeting” with the Find Rajini campaign.
The publisher has backed the social media campaign with on-ground promotions, tie-ups with retailers and visual merchandising across bookstores.
It’s not only Penguin that’s furiously using social media to build a strong pitch for its books. Harpen Collins on Independence Day invited bloggers to submit their stories and get a chance to be published.
“A social media strategy for promoting books is a smart move, provided the targeting is sharp,” says Smitha Sarma Ranganathan, a brand communication specialist who teaches marketing management at IBS Bangalore.
According to a recent nationwide survey by National Book Trust (NBT), three-fourths of literate youth in India do not read books other than their textbooks, be it classics or best-sellers.
Add to this the onslaught of television and internet on the rapidly dwindling reading habits of youth and it’s enough to send chills down the spine of publishers who are already grappling with the challenge of ebooks.
Penguin India for its part is attempting to renew the interest in books by engaging with youth in environs they’re most comfortable in.
Earlier this year, it tied up with cafe major Barista Lavazza to launch books at select stores. Penguin also ran a first-of-its-kind marketing initiative, a contest called ‘Love Stories That Touched My Heart‘ with author Ravinder Singh, Penguin’s India’s highest-selling author last year. The contest asked readers to share their love stories and the best one would get published.
Even better than creating market-driven days for promotions, brands should be more perceptive to naturally occurring special contexts, says Ranganathn of IBS Bangalore. As far as Rajnikanth is concerned, there couldn’t be a better context than having a birthday on the 12th day of the 12th month in the 12th year of the third millennium.
SouthDreamz.com wishes the Superstar a very happy birthday and a long and healthy life ahead.