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Saturday, October 30, 2010

ENDHIRAN (ROBOT) - The build up

Rajnikanth's giant cut out at Sky Walk Mall, Chennai

It is impossible for one to reside in Chennai and not get carried away with the Rajnikanth mania. People, in Tamil Nadu and around, wait with alacrity for a Rajni movie to arrive because each movie brings with it a carnival-like atmosphere and electrifies a rather dull city (I’m sorry, but it’s true).

A Rajni movie is not like any regular movie. It’s an event, like the Olympics, and the entire state of Tamil Nadu starts preparing for it months before its release. That’s why I compared it to the Olympics and not the Commonwealth Games. The momentum builds with every passing day and is soon reflected in local newspapers, radio channels and conversation. However, it’s the numerous banners by fan clubs on every street that tell you something big is on its way. Most of these banners are freakishly similar and have a large picture of Rajni in the centre, accompanied by the president and vice-president of the fan club on either side, looking petrified just to be on the same banner as the great man.

The excitement in the air was palpable. It wasn’t long before I got caught up in the hype.  I wanted to be a part of the festivities. I was suddenly a fan of Rajnikanth. I had seen just one movie of his before – Shivaji, and I thought it was one of the most ridiculous movies ever. Then what was happening to me? I had no control of my mind and body. I was suddenly supporting the man in all discussions. I took offence to Rajni jokes. I started hanging out with my Tamil brothers and discussing about the thailavar and his greatness. This was Rajni mania taking over.

Two weeks to go, articles and news snippets on Enthiran (Robot) and Rajnikanth were a part of every national news network. Local TV channels went berserk. Air time was dominated by Rajnikanth. Other producers refused to release their movies. The big day was fast approaching and I wanted to be a part of it.

Like all movies, there was a trailer release around the corner but that shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Wrong. Lesson number one; nothing is normal or “small” when it comes to Rajnikanth. People, in thousands, flocked the theatres to watch the trailer and the theatre owners, definitely smarter and more experienced than me, expecting this had tickets made just for the trailer at insanely high rates for the lunatics to catch a 5 minute glimpse of their hero. Buying a ticket to watch a trailer! Which other actor can demand that? The moolah was already flowing but this was a pocket change compared to the events expected to follow.

My friend D, a man of many contacts, managed to get us tickets, for three times the price of a normal movie ticket, scheduled for the weekend of the movie’s release. A pretty good deal compared to ones shelling out 20-30 times of what they usually would. The ticket became my prized possession. I went about parading my ticket, much to the exasperation of the local boys, who couldn’t get them for the weekend of the movie’s release and would have to watch it on a weekday, which according to local tradition, is a sin. Plus me being a Non-Tamil added fuel to the raging fire.

One day to go. The rich and poor, conservative and liberal, drunk and sober, sane and insane, all join hands, forget their differences and celebrate life and celebrate Rajni, their God. Only one man can create such magic. I won’t digress into Rajnikanth the individual, since that deserves nothing short of a book, or books perhaps. Firecrackers and poojas are on at full swing and people can’t wait for THE DAY to arrive. Theatres have shows scheduled from 4am onwards and that each of these shows was sold out came as no surprise. Everybody wanted to be the first to see the man in action.

People were willing to spend any kind of money to go that extra mile to prove their loyalty. Tickets were being bought at exorbitant rates, some even willing to spend 50-60 times the price of an original ticket. The money caught my attention. All the, “I love Rajnikanth” suddenly disappeared and the opportunist in me woke up. A 1000% return on investment was guaranteed and was tempting as hell.

But I didn’t do it because D had to go through a lot to get the tickets and I didn’t want the effort to go down the drain. Plus he threatened to break my head if I did, so that was another factor.  In addition to the tickets, even the milk used in the pooja was being sold at Rs 500/- per glass and people were lined up buy that. INSANE! This was the sign; Rajni mania had hit the city, and boy did it hit hard. People lost all sense of rationality and pure emotions took over. Just a few hours to go.

Chennai wouldn’t sleep tonight.


Author’s note:
To do justice to this post and to the aura of Rajnikanth, I am splitting this post into 2 parts. The release and my movie experience are worthy of a separate post.


Click here to read the next part...

19 comments:

TinTo said...

Waiting for the "VERDICT".... Kalsi's post... post enthiran

mink said...

Ahhhhh!!the muchhh awaited post :D
AWESOME!
A friend mine watched the movie 7 times paying 500 for the ticket EACH time! I guess that says it all.

Varshaa said...

Wen I gt tagged in a post relating to ROBOT, I was hoping it wud be ur blog..u writing abt..omg !!

Last time I heard u commenting abt Rajni was the time u sat nxt to me and watched sivaji. I regreted for having watched d movie wid a bunch of non-tamilians..

And nw look at u goin jubiliant abt thalaivar's movie..am soo proud of u!!!

Shanky said...

It's pretty much the same atmosphere here, half way around the world with poor confused Americans googling 'Rajini' all the way!

There are spl screenings all over at every desi theater in the city!! Tkt $$$ are at least 4 times the regular desi rates!!! Now that's the universal thalaivar effect for u ;)

Karthikeyan said...

Chennai is a boring city eh? if pubs are bars are source of entertainment then yes chennai is a boring city:p
And yea its a known fact. Rajni rocks

Ashish Kalsi said...

@TinTo--- ha ha coming soon :)
@Mink--- that's the Rajni mania for u

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Varshaa--- ha ha ha can't blame you for it...when I was in the hostel I was in a totally non-tamil environment and the Rajni mania couldn't affect me...but now that I am a part of the city and its people, I can understand what Rajnikanth is all about....total respect!!

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Karthikeyan--- well Mr. Chennai, there are more than adequate pubs in Chennai....it's the lack of anything else that worries me ;)

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Shanky---Really??? Ha ha ha ha I can imagine then downloading some of Rajnikanth's old stuff and watching it...crazy stuff man :P

ABI said...

dats anodr awesome blog and a gud read!!! :D and am more than happy dat u finally understood d magic and u r a victim to d spell.. ;) and yeah....am d sinner who cudn watch t on d first week , wen u cud.. x-( urghhhhh... am still jealous.. :P lol
goog work bum.. waiting 4 d part 2 now... :)

Ashish Kalsi said...

@abi- thank you :D well now I totally understand what the hype was all about...yeah, u were one amongst the many sinners

Tapas said...

I was a victim too! It was Shivaji.Even after so many years the movie's success strikes me as a mystery as huge as Loch Ness'!

ash said...

Ashish,
Hi
am a friend of Harjeet's
u do some cool job, with writing 'keep it up"
In those romantic hey day's in his 20's and 30's
even his name could not even get through my Blood brain barrier, never seen a movie of his.
and if he is able to turn the town upside down like you mentioned at his age, is he 70 yet??
there is a lot I want to write about, but
all i can say is "oh God"

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Tapas---- ha ha ha couldn't agree more....

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Ash--- thank you so much. You seem to be quite a fan of Rajnikanth :P He is not 70 yet and make sure you're not around any Tamil movie buffs when you make such a statement. Your life could be at stake ;)

Shanky said...

It's pretty much the same atmosphere here, half way around the world with poor confused Americans googling 'Rajini' all the way!

There are spl screenings all over at every desi theater in the city!! Tkt $$$ are at least 4 times the regular desi rates!!! Now that's the universal thalaivar effect for u ;)

Ashish Kalsi said...

@abi- thank you :D well now I totally understand what the hype was all about...yeah, u were one amongst the many sinners

Ashish Kalsi said...

@Karthikeyan--- well Mr. Chennai, there are more than adequate pubs in Chennai....it's the lack of anything else that worries me ;)

Karthikeyan said...

Chennai is a boring city eh? if pubs are bars are source of entertainment then yes chennai is a boring city:p
And yea its a known fact. Rajni rocks