'Kabali' countdown: For Rajinikanth fans in Mumbai, Aurora Talkies is the place to be
Rajinikanth- starrer Kabali releases in theatres on Friday, 22 July, and Aurora Talkies in Matunga — said to be the bastion for Thalaiva's fans in Mumbai — has pulled its shutters down. But those wanting to catch a show here needn't fret — this is just the calm before the storm. Under closed shutters the owner, Nambi Rajan, is preparing the theatre for its big day by cleaning and coating it in fresh paint.
He says, "There has to be something new for Rajini sir's release right?"
Every Rajinikanth film has been received in the theatre with the same gusto and fervour. For years now, Thalaiva fans from all across the city have gathered here to celebrate the release of his films with processions, blood donations, free eye check-up camps, fireworks, sweet distribution and most importantly, 'paal abhishekam' — a ritual where life-size cut outs of the superstar are bathed in milk. While all of this will happen this year as well, Rajan is not sure whether the fans will perform 'paal abhishekam' after a Bengaluru court issued an order earlier this year asking fans to avoid the ritual to prevent milk wastage.
The fans have their own ways of showing their love for the superstar. Apart from dancing and hooting in the theatres, fans also show their excitement by coming in to watch the film wearing the star's look in the film. "During Enthiran, some fans came to watch the film with the same haircut as Rajinikanth's character Chitti had in the film. But in Kabali Rajinikanth has nothing different in his look apart from the beard," says Rajan.
Rajan — who is a huge Rajini fan himself — is usually clean- shaved, but is currently sporting the Kabali beard. Laughing it off he says, "I will shave it clean after the film's release."
Advance bookings for the film opened this week and they have seen a great response. Last Friday when pre-booking counters opened in Chennai, tickets were sold out within minutes. Fans in Mumbai are also not far behind in their excitement to watch Rajini's latest film. Aurora Talkies opened pre-bookings on Tuesday, 19 July, and apart from a few seats the theatre is almost houseful until Sunday.
There is so much demand for the film tickets that Nambi Rajan has decided to even have a 6 am show on Friday. While generally the theatre has only two shows for a Tamil film, Kabali's popularity has made the theatre keep five to six shows for the movie on the opening weekend.
The theatre always hikes the ticket charges for Rajinikanth films, but this time they have kept the hike low, so that tickets are available for a nominal price range of Rs 110-150. Rajan justifies it saying, "I want everyone to enjoy the film, so I have hiked the rates by only Rs 20. For earlier movies we have had greater hikes, like for Enthiran we hiked the tickets by Rs 50."
On Tuesday, the theatre also became a stop for the film's promotional bus tour 'KabaliBus', organised by Fox Star India, that had a double decker bus with posters of the film on it. The tour, that went across the city from Wadala to Malad, had fans dancing to Kabali's hit track 'Neruppu Da' in front of Aurora Talkies.
Rajinikanth's last two releases Kochadaiiyaan and Lingaa did not fare too well at the box office, but that doesn't seem to have affected the Kabali frenzy.
In a video, shot by Nambi at Aurora Talkies, we see fans in celebration mode during the promotional event.
"The expectations for every film are high, irrespective of the performance of the last film. Rajini fans are constantly awaiting his films. Once the Kabali fever comes down, there will be Enthiran 2 fever," says Rajan.
Aurora Talkies has been screening Rajinikanth films ever since his 1975 debut in Apoorva Raagangal. "We have screened at least 90 percent of his films," Rajan proudly claims.
The entrance of new stars in Tamil cinema and his own age has not affected the 65-year- old Rajinikanth's superstardom. Fans still throng theatres in large numbers to catch their hero delivering punch lines in his trademark style. The craze has even passed on to the younger generation.
Rajan's own two- year-old grandson, Siddhanth, comes running into the room every time he hears a Kabali song playing on the television. "He screams out 'Ajini, Ajini' since he can't yet pronounce Rajini's name right," Rajan says.
What is the reason behind this form of fan- following, that no other actor has been able to command? According to Rajan it's a million dollar question that cannot be answered. "He has no six-pack abs, he's not good- looking in the traditional sense, he's not a macho figure, yet he has people looking up to him as their god. Has any other artist managed to create so much buzz before their film's release or garnered in so much revenue pre-release?" he asks.
The answer of course, is no.
Updated Date: Jul 21, 2016 13:27:29 IST
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