As 'Kabali' release nears, Rajinikanth fans find quirky ways to show their devotion

TS Sudhir

Jul 20, 2016 11:51:14 IST

On 27 October 2014, Srinivasan Jayaseelan flew along with his family from Chennai to Hong Kong. This wasn’t for a family vacation, however. Jayaseelan’s sole purpose was to meet with his idol, Rajinikanth. The actor was in Hong Kong shooting for a song in Lingaa. Jayaseelan’s dream fulfilled, he flew back the same night.

Like many of Rajinikanth’s films, the superstar’s fans too defy logic.

The build-up to Kabali has seen Jayaseelan, 39, up the craze quotient a few notches. He altered his car with Kabali pictures — spending Rs 25,000 to do so. All of 22-23 July will be spent inside theatres as he is booked to watch 10 back-to-back shows of Kabali. He last did something similar for Enthiran (Robot) when he watched four shows on the opening day.

 As Kabali release nears, Rajinikanth fans find quirky ways to show their devotion

The Jayaseelan family with Rajinikanth

When asked if he displays such adulation for any other actor, Jayaseelan who works with an airline, replies: “I have one father, one mother and one God — who is Rajinikanth.”

“Rajinikanth has a powerful presence, it makes me go into a trance,” says Ramesh Loganathan, managing director with a Hyderabad-based software firm. Loganathan has been in the Kabali mood for the past one week, wearing a Kabali T-shirt to work and has even booked a theatre in Hyderabad for the first show on Friday to savour the Kabali experience with friends.

Across the border in Karnataka, a car that flashes KABALI as the number plate has been breaking the Internet. It turns out that the owner of the vehicle is a Rajinikanth fan, who has procured the number (KA 8 AL 1) at a fancy price and changed the font to make it look like "Kabali".

Rajini's original hometown — Bengaluru (the actor worked as a conductor with the Bangalore Transport Corporation in the early 70s) — is in the ‘Neruppu Da’ mood as well. Entrepreneur Smitha Sarma Ranganathan has designed a sari with Rajinikanth's Don Kabali face on it.

Air Asia's special Kabali flight is booked with 180 passengers who have shelled out Rs 7,860 for a return ticket from Bengaluru to Chennai on 22 July to watch the first day first show in Rajinikanth's backyard. Among them is C Shekhar, a diehard Rajini fan who will be flying for the first time in his life. “What better reason to fly than to watch a Rajinikanth movie?” asks Shekhar.

A car decked with the 'Kabali poster

A car decked with the 'Kabali poster

For those who aren't Chennai-bound, four five-star hotels in Bengaluru have lined up Kabali shows, with each ticket going for Rs 1,300, inclusive of food and drinks. This is apparently the first time that hotels will screen a commercial film on the day of its release.

Rajinikanth's 2012 biography quotes VM Sudhakar, manager of the All India Rajinikanth Fans Association, as saying that the star stopped certifying individual fan clubs in 2001. At that time, the count was more than 50,000 Rajinikanth fan clubs.

PC Balasubramaniam at one of his Rajinikanth management workshops; a sari with Rajini's 'Don Kabali' avatar

PC Balasubramaniam at one of his Rajinikanth management workshops; a sari with Rajini's 'Don Kabali' avatar

And with a Rajini film releasing after nearly two years, all of them are gearing up for a mega celebration on Friday. Among them is the Rajini Biggest Superstar of India (RBSI), the 4-lakh strong online Rajinikanth fan club that plans to distribute 1,000 helmets, welding glasses and gloves to labourers. “The movie is about the labour class so we thought this will be a good way to mark the release of the film,” says Nithesh Vathul of RBSI.

And for those who think Rajinikanth is only about entertainment, PC Balasubramanian has a different take. The author of Rajini's Punchtantra which gives a management take on Rajinikanth’s punch lines, has been talking to managers in Kabali season explaining various management theories through the killer dialogues. For instance Rajinikanth’s “En vazhi thanee vazhi” line from Padaiyappa is interpreted thus: “You need to be different to succeed. Don’t choose a ‘me too’ line of business or a ‘me too’ way of running a business.”

It is almost as if Rajini, the management guru, planned his career too the same way. Starting off as a villain whose style statement got him more claps than the leading man, every time he flicked his cigarette, he lit up the screen. His way of wearing his sunglasses spawned an entire generation of ‘me too’ Rajinikanth copycats.

Witnessing the craze and the frenzy for this 65-year-old actor, he can indeed say “En vazhi thanee vazhi”. In return, his fans can only exclaim: “Maghizchi (Happiness)”.

Updated Date: Jul 20, 2016 11:51:14 IST