PIX: Rajinikanth fever grips Mumbai
When you go to watch a Rajinikanth film, be prepared for a parallel movie -- one starring his fans.
As Kochadaiiyan releases in theatres across the country on May 23, we capture the mood outside Mumbai’s Aurora theatre, ahead of the film’s first show.
At 12 noon, minutes before the release of Rajinikanth’s much-anticipated film Kochadaiiyaan, a group of 20-something fans from Superstar Sports Club, Dhobi Ghat in South Mumbai, bravely climb a 10 feet wooden ladder and pour at least 5-10 litres of milk on the movie poster.
A fan lights some camphor, places it on top of a coconut and mumbles some prayers.
He then invites his other fan-friends to complete the pooja -- they break a series of coconuts and prostrate before the poster of their demi-God.
Others throw fake currency of Rs 500 and 1000 denominations on the superstar.
Mind you, this is not Chennai or Madurai or any other southern city.
All this action takes place at Aurora theatre in Sion, a central suburb in Mumbai.
Please click Next to see more.
Image: Rajinikanth fans outside Aurora theater
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
'I visit all the theatres in my village and break 101 coconuts ahead of the first show'
"Thalaiva, nee thaan enakku ulagam, yennoda deiyvam. Yenga amma pechhu kooda kekammatein, aana unga padam paaarkama irukkamudiyuma? (Thalaiva, you are my world, my God. I don’t listen to my mother but how can I miss your films?)” proclaims Rajini Prakash, who has come all the way from Sanpada, a suburb in Mumbai, to watch his favourite actor’s latest film on the first day, first show.
Prakash, an automobile mechanic, who has parked himself in front of Sion’s Aurora theatre since 7 am, carries with him a sack filled with 51 coconuts and a polythene filled with bits of paper which he plans to use when he cheers the Superstar's entry sequences.
“I have been watching Thalaivar’s films since I was a kid. In our hometown in Thanjavur, we’d walk up to five kilometres on the day of release with pots of milk to perform abhishekam on our favourite hero’s posters. I personally visit all the theatres in my village and break 101 coconuts ahead of the first show. In Mumbai, it’s difficult to afford 101 coconuts so I stick to 51,” he says.
“After watching this film, I will go to the other theatres and break coconuts there as well. Otherwise, I will not get sleep at night,” he says.
Prakash is such a big fan, he got himself a Rajinikanth tattoo when he was just seven years old.
Image: Rajinikanth fans break coconuts outside Aurora theater
'I'm so upset that in Mumbai the first show is at 12 noon!'
As Prakash recounts stories of the number of times he’s met the Superstar, the crowd chants ‘Thalaiva vaazhga, Thalaiva vaazhga.’
“My friend Jeeva and I had got this tattoo done together,” he adds. “We are big fans of Rajni Sir and watch all his films countless times. Jeeva called me up in the morning to find out why I hadn’t watched the film yet. I’m so upset that in Mumbai the first show is at 12 noon!”
Other fans echo his complaint.
“The whole of May we were eagerly waiting to hear about this film’s release. First, it was supposed to be released on May 9, then it was postponed to May 16. Even today, people are not sure whether the film would release,” explains Murugesan, a vegetable seller who has come to the theatre at 8 am to buy a ticket.
Image: Prakash shows off his Rajinikanth tattoo
'I don't care about the story or director. It's Rajini Sir that matters'
Friends Shiva and Damu tell us their tale: “When the counter opened at 10.30 am, we were the first ones to get tickets. We got 15 tickets in all. We purposely did not buy the balcony seats -- we want to watch our superstar from as close as possible. We want to whistle and dance. The stall tickets are the most sought-after by fans.”
Mani Subramaniam, a sound technician who works with with percussionist Sivamani, has come all the way from Cochin after finishing a concert so that he can watch Kochadaiiyaan first day, first show.
“I never miss any films of Rajini Sir. I don’t care about the story or director. It’s Rajini Sir that matters. Without watching it, I know this film will be a hit,” says Subramaniam who belongs to Thenkasi, a village in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
Image: Rajinikanth's poster gets bathed with milk
'I totally relate to Rajni's characters'
Sitting right in front of the theatre’s gate was K Chandran, a contract worker dressed in a striped mundu and white shirt.
“I have been making visits to this theatre every day since May 7 to buy a ticket for the first show. Today, I came here at 6 am only to realise there was no advance booking. I waited till 10.45 am to get a ticket,” he says proudly displaying his ticket.
“Padikkaadavan was the first Rajni film I saw and since then I have been a fan. Even I had to drop out of school to help my family, so I totally relate to Rajni’s characters. He is a man with the heart of a gold -- very hardworking and gifted and he plays only such characters on screen.”
Image: Fans wait for the first show to start outside Aurora theatre
'Whether the film completes 100 days or not, for Rajini's fans, Kochadaiiyaan is already a blockbuster'
Theatre owner Nambi Rajan, an ardent Rajini fan himself, feels that animation films, particularly starring Indian heroes have never been welcomed in India.
“People in India will call it a cartoon film. They will not appreciate the hard work and courage someone has put in it. We weren’t expecting this crowd for the film, but since it’s a Rajini film, the collections may surprise us,” he says.
Inside the theatre, the madness continues.
The dialogues are drowned by the audience cheers and when an animated young girl applies a tilak on the ‘king with a long mane’ -- the meaning of Kochadaiiyaan -- a fan prostrates himself before his idol.
Rajan’s words sums up the fans’ sentiments: “Whether the film completes 100 days or not, for Rajini’s fans, Kochadaiiyaan is already a blockbuster.”
Image: Rajinikanth fans pose for pictures with Kochadiiyaan poster