Trade Winds Movies

Happy Birthday Rajinikanth: Understanding the ‘Thalaivar’ phenomenon

A scene from ‘Darbar’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Rajinikanth turns 69 tomorrow. As far as Thalaivar is concerned, age is just a number for him because... he is The Superstar.

To quote his dialogue from 2.0, he’s the “only one, the super one”. No other star has survived this long and been at the top of his game, if you take into account his Petta, one of the biggest hits of 2019.

Ahead of Rajinikanth’s birthday, theatres across Chennai started screening Baasha in their evening slot. This shows the kind of craze the actor has built among followers over the years. Rajinikanth himself spoke about his own legacy at the audio launch of Darbar, in which he said, “The time, the period, the opportunity, the situation and the people around me are the reason for my success.”

King of box-office

His track record at the worldwide box-office, in the new millennium, is remarkable. From Sivaji (2007) to Petta (2019), all his movies have grossed over ₹100 crore, except for Kochadaiiyaan. Out of the 10 top grossers in the US box-office, Rajinikanth holds six of them.

He is the only Superstar in Indian cinema, who, at 69, is still commercially viable. Even global superstars like Arnold Schwarzenegger (72) and Sylvester Stallone (73) seem to have lost their charm, following the colossal failure of this year’s Terminator: Dark Fate and Rambo: Last Blood respectively.

The secret of his success and longevity can be attributed to his connect with the millennials. He has reinvented himself and stayed relevant over the years. Take a look at his choice of movies in the last decade. After working with his regular set of directors like P Vasu, Suresh Krissna and KS Ravikumar (with the exception of Lingaa, which received a lukewarm response at the box-office), he went on to work with up-and-coming directors like Pa Ranjith (Kabali and Kaala) and Karthik Subbaraj (Petta). The actor now awaits the release of Darbar, in which he has joined hands with AR Murugadoss. He will soon start shooting for his yet-untitled film tentatively known as Thalaivar 168, a rural movie which will be directed by Siva.

Secret to stardom

Tamilaruvi Manian, a close confidant of Rajinikanth, says he will float his political party sometime in 2020.

A veteran director who has worked with the actor says, “Rajinikanth understands the pulse of the audience. He will never do another film with an ’80s or ’90s director, since their thought process and filmmaking styles are not in sync with today’s generation. In fact, in the last couple of years, Rajinikanth has been acting his age. It is not easy to remain at the top of his game when today’s stars like Vijay and Ajith are eating into his box-office. He knows that. I’m sure he will switch to politics soon.”

The septuagenarian has Darbar releasing on Pongal. In an interview, AR Murugadoss said that Rajinikanth is donning the role of khaki (rumoured to be playing an encounter specialist) after 25 years. His character is said to be somewhat similar to Alex Pandian, which he essayed in the smash hit Moondru Mugam. Lyca Productions, which has bankrolled the project, is confident of the film’s performance at the box-office.

Veteran cinematographer Santosh Sivan, who first worked with Rajini in Mani Ratnam’s Thalapathi (1991), is reuniting with him after 28 years in Darbar. About the experience, he says, “Thalapathi was during the early days of the emergence of Rajinikanth, the Superstar. He was younger and had that fire in him to succeed. Today, he understands the craft and is always eager to learn more. He is the coolest man on the set; his success is not only because of his hard work, but he also enjoys his work. He has this aura around him that makes him the Superstar.”

Rajinikanth may be nearly 70. But his charisma and star power have not diminished even by an ounce. Even today.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 12:23:16 PM |

Next Story