Rajnican’t anymore?

For decades he held sway over the masses with his roadside Romeo charm, his superman stunts, a mere flip of a cigarette or his lush locks but at 64, age seems to be catching up with south side cult hero, Rajnikanth. The man who could do no wrong till a few years ago is now floundering with two consecutive flops in his lap and distributors nipping at his ankles for their money back

By Sudha Menon (Person of the Week)

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Published: Sat 31 Jan 2015, 10:30 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:57 PM

He began his reel life playing villain roles while working as a bus conductor in a state transport company but has the disastrous performance of his latest film, the super ambitious Lingaa, made a villain out of the south side super star, in real life?

Going by the accusations made by a section of the distributor community, some of who poured in over 10 crores to acquire the rights, the superstar and his coterie are attempting to browbeat, arm twist and bully them into silence. Their crime? Asking for a reimbursement of the cash they invested in buying distribution rights of the star’s latest film, Lingaa, banking solely on the legendary star’s cult status with his fans.

This time over though, even his legion of fans seem to abandoned him and have given Lingaa a collective thumbs down. And howsoever unimaginable it might seem, the movie is nearly out of major screens across his home state in just over a month of its release, making way for other films.

Those who know the star pull that Rajnikanth exercises will also know that film makers who dare to release a film clashing with a Rajni film — they usually don’t —  have to wait in line to get a theatre free to screen their offering.

Rajni stars are known to watch his film multiple times and then some more but this time over they have rejected the weak storyline, the plot, Rajni’s character itself and the shoddy nature of the special effects in Lingaa. Fed on steady diet of new age films with sophisticated special effects and strong storylines, the audiences have come of age and are ready to say No to films that underestimate their intelligence.

Made at an estimated Rs100 crore plus, the film is now reportedly struggling to recover at least that cost. Rumour mills insist that a section of the distributors who verabalised their ire had to personally apologise to the star for their action.

Be that as it may, it is unlikely that the ageing superstar will now be shown the door permanently by film makers and his fans. What they possibly need to do is to give him roles that suit his age. The Rajni who swaggered across the silver screen with unruly hair, smoking cigarettes and undertaking breathtaking stunts needs to make way for more sophisticated  roles that will leverage the fine actor in him and lend grace to his age.

At 64, one would have thought he is too old to romance actors who are less than half his age such as Deepika Padukone in Kochadaiiyan and Sonakshi Sinha in Lingaa. Clearly the star himself thinks so. “Even in my first film, I didn’t feel so nervous as much as I did when I had to romance her. I’ve known Sonakshi as a baby, and she has grown up together with my daughters,” he said recently .

With a string of flops behind him — Baba, Kuselan, Kochadaiiyan and now Lingaa — we are sure Rajni now clearly sees the writing on the wall. Knowing him, he will rise from the ashes in a new avatar. Remember the thumping success of Enthiran just a couple of years ago after suffering a number of flop films? If anyone can script his own resurrection, it is the star himself.

You know what they say about Rajni: “ When you say “no one is perfect”, Rajinikant takes this as a personal insult!


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