'The last few years have seen Ajith and Vijay grow very popular, but Rajinikanth continues to remain unbeatable.'
Huge cutouts, banners, posters and colourful buntings adorning theatre complexes during the release of a popular star's film are a common sight in Tamil Nadu.
The release of a Rajinikanth film is like no other.
Fans perform paal abhishekam to massive cutouts of the superstar to the accompaniment of beating drums and loud cheering and shouts of 'Thalaiva'.
Crackers are burst and the atmosphere is electrifying.
The first show is screened as early as 4 am states Subramaniam, manager, Kasi Theatre, Chennai, known to be a favourite of Rajini fans.
"For over a month now, we are being approached by fan clubs in Chennai enquiring about tickets for the first day, first show," he says. "We have just one screen and the first three, four shows are booked almost entirely by the fans."
"We usually start at 4 am amidst much fanfare with fans performing paal abhishekam, beating drums and bursting crackers. Tickets are booked in bulk by the fans, and their excitement is contagious. The whole day is a celebration," he says with a laugh.
A Rajini fan himself, Subramaniam says, "He is the only superstar with fans from the ages of 2 to 80. The last few years have seen Ajith and Vijay grow very popular, but Rajinikanth continues to remain unbeatable. His film releases are a celebration that brings joy to people."
"They say Kabali is going to be released in Malay and Chinese. Who else has achieved this kind of appeal? People throng to theatres to watch his films and Kabali will prove to the world why he is the only superstar," he says.
Meenakshisundaram, who has been with Mayajaal Cinema, the second largest multiplex in Asia with 16 screens, for over a decade cannot agree more.
"The vibes from Kabali are extremely positive," he says. "Rajinikanth is all set to rock Tamil cinema with this one. The film brings back memories of his earlier films, which appealed to everybody. Kabali will work in all centres but is sure to take the B and C centres by storm."
"Everything seems to have worked out great for the film, the director, the cast, the music, and now, the marketing. The credit should go to the production company Kalaippuli S Thanu's V Creation. Every little detail has been taken care of and the film is looking to smash all box office records," he feels.
Talking about the logistics of screening over 80 shows a day, Meenakshisundram explains, "We generally tighten our internal security and also inform the police commissioner, but we have enough experience to handle the situation. At the moment, we are overwhelmed with the number of calls for corporate and group bookings demanding hundreds of tickets at a time. We are planning to screen at least 80 shows per day."
Chennai's Woodlands Theatres was in the news recently, when fans celebrated the audio release of Kabali by booking the entire theatre to watch a special show of Sivaji, one of Rajinikanth's biggest blockbusters.
"When the audio launch for Kabali was cancelled," says theatre owner Venkatesh, "fans were very disappointed. They wanted to have their own little celebration and contacted me to arrange a special screening of Sivaji."
"Woodlands is, after all, the largest theatre in the city with a seating capacity of 1,000 people per show, and the fans booked the entire theatre. We screened the Kabali teaser as well, and the crowd went berserk," he adds.
"There is a good buzz around the film. And with no new films scheduled for the next three weeks, Kabali is probably going to be one of the biggest money churners the industry has ever seen."