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The hype and hoopla that is being raised on the eve of Pa Ranjith’s Kabali -- where Rajinikanth plays a don out to save his Tamil brethren in Malaysia -- brings us to a huge question mark. Is Kabali going to be the superstar’s last film? Is he going to call it day after this? Tamil Nadu has seen several Rajinikanth movie releases, but the buildup this time around seems to have gone overboard.
Imagine Air Asia flying a plane to bring the actor’s fans from the Far East for a special show, topped with food and the works. And there is a bus running with Rajinikanth’s photographs splashed all over.
Not just this, his thousands of fans are all set to anoint tall wooden cut-outs of the star with milk -- despite huge protests by milkmen in Chennai and elsewhere not to waste this precious food in a country where more than a third of the population goes to bed hungry, where children do not get enough milk, if at all.
Watch all the songs of Kabali here:
The cut-outs will also be anointed with sandal paste and honey, and garlanded with roses and lilies.
Such fan worship was never seen even in the heyday of great actors like MG Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesh and Gemini Ganesh. Even someone like NT Rama Rao in Andhra Pradesh -- who often donned the role of mythical figures like Rama and Krishna -- could not attract such popular adulation. And mind you, Ramachandran went to become a Dravidian politician and Tamil Nadu chief minister, whose appeal was enormous, and who achieved a lot of this through cinema.
What then is the reason for the Rajini craze? Nobody has been able to put a finger quite accurately on this.
Watch Kabali’s Telugu trailer here:
But if Kabali fails -- like some of Rajinikanth’s earlier ones -- it can spell disaster. One standup Tamil comedian, who did not wish to be named, said that the first reports of Kabali were not too encouraging. Those who have managed to see it at a special screening in the US on July 20 -- a show that the star attended -- came away with mixed feelings. Their Facebook pages appear to have been blocked.
Also, someone who had watched the Kabli show in America is alleged to have leaked the opening scene. The two-minute of the video has gone viral on WhatsApp. The video tells us about Rajinikanth’s character being an illiterate in the film, and fighting for the cause of Tamils in a foreign land.
The leak comes despite Kabali’s producer, Kalaipuli S Thanu, moving the Madras High Court to stop the movie being leaked online or pirated. The court had restrained 169 registered internet service providers in India from allowing illegal downloads.
But then there can be dozens of unregistered service providers in India who may well be having a free run.
Despite all this, trade sources say that Kabali will earn Rs 100 crores in the first three days of its opening. This will be in addition to the Rs 200 crores that the film has reportedly made through corporate deals, satellite rights and music sales. Thanu has told the media that he expected Kabali to earn Rs 500 crores.
The movie will open on July 22 in 4500 screens in India, and 400 in America. Certainly, one of the most spectacular openings, but Kabali is said to have a sad ending. One only hopes that film itself will not end up so.