Rajinikanth is changing… and here’s why

What do you do when you’re Rajinikanth and have two flops in recent times?

That’s the conundrum that the 64-year-old actor would’ve faced in the last few months.

Admit it – he’s the biggest Superstar we have, but even the most vociferous of his fans would have cringed watching him in an animated avatar (in Kochadaiyaan) and desperately trying to dance for an introduction number (in Lingaa).

The trademark style was gone, rued some. The confidence in the stride was absent, complained others.

Somewhere inside his cosy Poes Garden residence, Rajinikanth must have been taking all this feedback into account. And that is perhaps why he’s gone in for a relatively-new director (Pa Ranjith) and a well-established producer (Kalaipuli Thanu) to work on his next.

This is a massive decision that he’s taken, and it’s about time too.

The problem that he faced over the last few months with respect to his career is not entirely new to superstardom – Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan went through a similar phase, but came through by playing his age. He played varied roles with ease and continues to do so, till his recent success, Piku.

So, should Rajinikanth try doing an Amitabh?

I’m not entirely sure. For, with the Big B, you see him as the character he portrays on screen. When he essayed a 12-year-old with a rare genetic disorder in Paa, you saw Auro on screen, and not Amitabh. I recall watching this particular film with Rajinikanth himself at a private screening, when I was working for a different newspaper. After the film, when I casually asked him if he would be interested in a Tamil remake, he just laughed heartily. Ah, that famous guffaw he’s popular for. Somehow, he knew that he could never be Amitabh. Somehow, he knew that he’d always been seen as the star and not the character.

So, should Rajinikanth go back to his old ways (read: Lingaa)?

Most certainly not. As an audience growing up on a healthy diet of mass and class films, it’s hard for us to see him romance a Sonakshi Sinha on screen. It’s hard for us to see him try those dance moves, try those punch dialogues and try the stride he’s famous for. Because, Superstar never just tries. He does.

So, what’s the solution?

What the actor desperately needs now is a script doctor. Much like how he left everything in the hands of qualified doctors during his 2011 medical trials, he needs to forget logistics and image, and hand himself over to Pa Ranjith and team.

Those not tuned into the Tamil film industry might have not even heard of Ranjith’s name and might be wondering about his credentials. Well, that’s exactly the point – sometimes, it takes a rank outsider to shake things a little bit in life. Even with Rajinikanth.

If with his debut flick Attakathi, Ranjith made just another youthful subject, with Madras, he showed finesse in his craft. And now, with a strong technical crew in tow – the supremely-talented Santhosh Nararayan scores music – the director has all the backing he needs.

So did Soundarya and Ravikumar, one might argue. But, their films with the Superstar probably suffered most due to this very comfort factor. If Soundarya, who helmed the former, was family, Ravikumar, who directed the latter, was a friend.

Ranjith is neither. He’s an admirer, I’m sure, and will surely seek to satisfy both the filmmaker and fan inside him.

And for us audiences, that is more than enough. Rajinikanth has made mistakes – and big ones that – in the recent past, with his work on the big screen. With this yet-to-be-titled film, he’s getting a golden opportunity to make amends. For the fan who wakes up at four to catch his films. For the fan who whistles and hoots watching the words ‘Superstar’ unfold on the big screen. For the fan who, ultimately, dearly loves him, warts and all.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 5:06:50 PM |

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