|'Sivaji' has been a runaway success from the word 'go,' writes T. SARAVANAN|
Overwhelming Crossing all barriers
People carried milk pots on their heads piously Some pierced their tongues and cheeks with spears. Another group pulled a car hooked on to their skin Crazy attempts for setting a record? Or a part of some temple festival? Neither. These were die-hard fans of matinee idol Rajni Kant wishing him success, in their style, for his latest flick, 'Sivaji'.
"Six-kku appuram sevenda, Sivaji-kku appuram aevanda Pinneetteenga, thalaiva," a 58-year-old fan cried out a punch dialogue from the movie in full throat, vying with relatively younger fans to gain entry into a theatre to watch the film for the third time in succession.
Age is no bar when it comes to superstar Rajni Kant's fan following. Charisma of the hero pervades the society cutting across age, gender. Attraction is uncontrolled and unabating so much so that ticket sales for Sivaji have touched a new high crashing all previous records. And of course, along with that the ticket rates too have increased prohibitively. But who cares when you idolise Rajni Kant.
The film has been released in more than 500 theatres across Tamil Nadu.
In smaller cities like Madurai, other films are normally released in three or four theatres. But in this case, 'Sivaji' was released in nine theatres in the city alone.
What is it that makes this movie distinctly different from Rajni Kant's earlier films? Or what calls for such hype?
Unlike his earlier films, 'Sivaji' is big in every aspect. The AVM banner under which it has been produced, its production value, star director in Shankar, award-winning cinematographer and music director in K.V. Anand and A.R. Rahman, respectively, well supported by a strong technical team.
L.Ramachandran, a pharmaceutical distributor in the city, is thrilled every time he sees Rajni Kant on screen. "The title itself spells magic. His movements and dialogue delivery has the power to attract anybody. Once I am inside the theatre, I get fully immersed and involved and don't bother about anything else."
This, in fact, happens with many of Rajni's fans. During the first few days, much of the action takes place in the seating area than on the screen. For die-hard fans it is an occasion to show how loyal and dedicated they are to their matinee icon.
The day the film was released, fans in some theatres in the city liberally distributed chocolates and sweets to share their uninhibited joy.
Each fan tested the strength of his vocal chord while whistles were loud enough to puncture eardrums.
D. Samuel Lawrence, a retired English professor, came hard on such practices and went on to say it "is a step that takes people back to primitive stage".
"It is ridiculous and very difficult to understand. Even Rajni Kant will not have expect such adulation. In fact, he will not like his fans to react to his film in this way. Such an exaggerated importance will take us nowhere."
Brushing aside any negative remark, Bala. Thamburaj, one of the members of Rajni Kant Welfare Association city unit, says: "Our star enjoys a demi-god status here. It is two years since, the release of 'Chandramukhi', our 'thalaivar' has acted in movies. Even now the film is running successfully in a theatre in Chennai crossing 800 days. Our prime job now is to make 'Sivaji' a mega hit. Judging by the overwhelming response of fans and the public, we are confident of breaking all records."
It is not just the uneducated school dropouts perpetuating such adulation. Rajni Kant's fans are omnipresent. There are reports of medical students standing in long queues to reserve a ticket for the show in Delhi. A big IT company, in order to facilitate its employees enjoy a hassle-free viewing of the film, booked the entire theatre for an exclusive show for its staff.
With tickets reportedly booked till August, those who have been lucky enough to watch it in the first week say the movie is "Tamil but filmed in purely Hollywood style". Many have drawn parallels with Chhatrapati Shivaji, the 17th century ruler of Marathas. "If the Maratha icon was the terror for Mughal juggernauts, our idol is the terror for all black money launderers in the movie. It is not only an entertainer but also has a strong message for the people," says S. Vellaichamy, an ardent fan and a member of the Alwarpuram Rajni Welfare Association.
People may see effective marketing strategy behind the film's release that has made it the talk of the town.
But the number of Rajni Kant fans seems to be only swelling after every release. Leave alone the debate whether it is good or bad for the society.
What no one can deny is that his movies are thorough entertainers.
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