Is Rajnikanth still a Bollywood superstar?

— Gayathri Sundaram contributed with this report

The star of South Indian cinema, Rajnikanth, has once again drawn thousands of Indians all over the world to their local cinemas with his new film release “Enthiran: The Robot”, which went out to the public on September 30th.

Yet after so long in the South Indian cinema business, how has Rajnikanth managed to stay successful for all these years?

Originally born as Sivaji Rao Gaekwad in 1949, 60-year-old “superstar” Rajnikanth was working as a bus conductor before he decided to become an actor and join the Madras Film Institute. It was here that he was noticed by the great Tamil director, Kailasam Balachander, who gave him his first role as a villain in the film “Moondru Mudichu” in 1976.

After this, he was so popular doing villains that people eventually preferred him over the main hero, and afterwards he finally managed to land the lead role in the film “Chilakamma Cheppindi”. Since then, he has made over 150 films, including “Badsha”, “Annamalai”, “Muthu” and “Padaiyappa”.

Each film, no matter how good or bad, has been marketed with a pompous celebration with cinemas surrounded by fireworks and gigantic cut outs of him garlanded by flowers.

This extravagance may have been turned down a notch in Sheffield where I went to see “Enthiran”. However, that still didn’t stop every Tamil person in Yorkshire standing in massive queues in hope that they will receive tickets for the 8:30 showing. And sooner or later, we managed to fill a cinema of a thousand seats, which included people whooping the minute they saw big bold letters spelling out “Superstar Rajni” on the screen.


Rajnikanth plays two characters in Enthiran, both the robot and his creator. Photo: Sun Pictures

Already being labelled as the most expensive film in Indian cinema, the film “Enthiran” (meaning robot) featured Rajnikanth, the famous Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai – who Rajnikanth tried for months to get as his heroine – and the great Sikim actor Danny Denzponga.

In this film, we saw Rajnikanth playing two roles. One was the protagonist humanoid robot Chitti and his creator Dr. Vaseegaran. Chitti can do everything that a human can’t do except have emotions, which are picked up on by Vaseegaran’s jealous professor, Dr. Bohra (Denzponga).

Therefore Dr. Vaseegaran decides to take on the challenge of making him feel human emotions, but this becomes a problem when Chitti falls for Vaseegaran’s girlfriend Sana (Rai).

When Vaseegaran finds out about this he throws Chitti into a dumpster. But Chitti is later found by Bohra, who revives him and installs him with a destructive chip — making Chitti riotous.

The film’s main theme is technology becoming too powerful — which has been done before. It still contains some elements of a Rajnikanth film such as his villainous style and his downfall and rise. Plus it was also nice to see Aishwarya Rai having a key role in the story as she becomes an integral part of Chitti’s downfall.

However, what was disappointing, especially for Rajni fans, was that there was no special quote which he seems to always have. No “Lakalakalaka” or “Baba counting”. Plus there were no typical Rajnikath moves such as him throwing a cigarette in the air or flipping around a coin — it was all just a bit bland.

Plus, once again, we saw him trying to go after the girl. In a typical Rajnikanth movie, the girl would go after him. There were also problems with the sequencing of the film as some songs seemed to come in-between the actual film. In other words, if anyone else had done this film, it would have definitely been a flop.


There was a large queue to see the latest film from the 60 year old superstar. Photo: Gayathri Sundaram

Yet after all of that, I found that I had a whole new adrenaline rush after that film — and so did everyone else around me.

So what is it about Rajnikanth that makes everyone adore him so much? Well some people came because they have loved Rajni for years and others went along just for the ride. One woman even went even though her brothers told her “not to expect much”.

Some will try and debate this argument for quite some time, but I will give you this one simple answer. It’s Rajnikanth.

No matter what film you put him in, Rajnikanth has that suave yet villainous style of acting which people have just adored and loved ever since the film “Badsha”. Even with flops such as “Baba” and “Kuselan”, people will still come at watch and he will still score at the box offices.

He has a number one fan base, even in unusual places such as Japan after the hit film “Muthu” was released there. Even in Sheffield, if a Rajnikanth film is showing, people will gather and share the excitement by screaming like they did in their college days. It’s like a pastime — he brings people together.

And it’s because of this that Rajnikanth’s career will not stop. People depend on him; they need him in their lives. He will stop one day, but only when people accept that he has to go. At this moment, no one is willing to let go off their Superstar.

8 Responses to Is Rajnikanth still a Bollywood superstar?

  1. Laxmi Devi says:

    Rajinikant is the biggest superstar DOT!

  2. Mank says:

    not sure what you mean by “star of South Indian cinema” for a person of such GLOBAL reach and donno where you got the idea that the Denzongpa guy is some great actor, I would have forwarded this had I known his email. he would be gald that someone atleast said that….
    then you go on about Aishwarya that Rajini tried for months and so on. there is really nothing great about her.
    Tell me one movie that she carried on her own…she’s nowhere near in the class of Sridevi or Madhuri whose films would run just bcos of them…in enthiran it could have been Rakhi Sawant in place of A rai, wouldn’t have mattered a bit…
    Rajini is first a great actor and then a superstar.
    Your name is south Indian, most likely you are a south indian brahmin (guessin again from the name) and if you have not already, you should see rajini movies in the early 80’s and 90’s. KB’s movies, fantastic comedies like guru shishyan, thillu mullu going even further back and there is a whole lot more. Do your research dear….
    It’s not just the cigarette flicks or so called punch dialogues or mannerisms that make Rajini, it’s a whole lot more. That man is incredible and in real life is down to earth. watch those audio release clippings you’ll see

  3. Loki says:

    RAJNI HAS PROVED HIMSELF AS CROWD PULLER EVEN AT THE AGE OF 60. HIS MANNERISMS SPEAKS MORE THAN HIM. HE IS PERFECT FOR GLOBAL MARKET FROM INDIA CINEMA.

  4. shankarlal says:

    Never understand which kind of acting doing by Rajnikant cant understand gentlemen
    i say frankly Rajnikant is a cheap entertainer

  5. shankarlal says:

    Indian film industry produce only one superstar till date and that is RAJESH KHANNA.
    No actor never near him till date so many superstar of the indian cinema but fact is thet original and real superstar of the indian cinema only one name is not other then only RAJESH KHANNA that is the 100%true

  6. Balaji says:

    Good write up…
    All said and done two main factors determine whether a movie is good or not… One is the director and the other is the script (half the movie makers dont care a damn about the later).
    However whether a movie is a box office hit or not, only one factor decides it… Thats rajinikanth.. and this is not a rajini joke of any sort… For instance if a rajini movie releases in June then there are going to be no movie releases from may until july… Its not because of the word rajinikanth, its because of the class he carries himeself with…

    Cheers,
    Balaji

  7. shankarlal says:

    No other actors never callad a superstar indian film industry has only one superstar and that is the RAJESH KHANNA all other actor is cheap entertainer he is officially first and last most geniune superstar

  8. shankarlal says:

    As a superstar any others actor count after Rajesh khanna because Rajesh khanna is a most geniune superstar till date indian film industry never find superstar just like Rajesh khanna.