Rajini’s ‘Lingaa’ nightmare refuses to end. Now, distributors to “beg” at his house
Lingaa is turning into a recurring nightmare for Rajinikanth.
Now the distributors of the movie have threatened to “turn into beggars and start begging in front of Rajini’s house” and also “in front of the theaters wherever the movie is playing”.
Reports quote the distributors as saying that they will arrange a bowl at every theater, requesting the audience to donate money so that they can cover their losses to some extent.
Earlier, it was less than sweet Pongal for Rajinikanth. Only a few days before the festival, a group of distributors went on a symbolic hunger strike to protest against the losses they had incurred on account of Lingaa.
The film released on Rajini’s 64th birthday, December 12th last year, preceded by some heavy duty hype and everybody hoped it would restore the Superstar to his unassailable hero status of the past. His earlier film, Kochadaiyaan, a motion-capture film directed by his daughter Soundarya, made no impact on the box-office and rumblings of discontent were beginning to be heard amongst distributors.
With Lingaa failing to deliver as expected, the murmurs have become loud protests and distributors are demanding that they be compensated for their losses. Rajini has done that in the past, bailing out distributors after the failure of films like Baba and Kuselan.
This time around though, such gestures have been missing and the distributors have made no attempt to hide their unhappiness. This, in itself, is unprecedented, for raised voices against Rajini are almost unthinkable in Kollywood, where he holds a revered position.
But the distributors of Lingaa are not the only ones disappointed by Rajini of late. While die-hard fans crowded theatres to bathe cut-outs of their hero in milk and shower confetti on the screen, ensuring an excellent opening for the film, their enthusiasm could not be sustained. Even during screenings you could sense the whistles and screams that accompanied Thalaivar’s entry dying down all too soon.
Even with Rajini in a double role, Lingaa simply didn’t have what it takes to keep bringing audiences back. The story was weak, the heroines vapid, the punch dialogues too few and the climax clumsy and tacky.
Fans expect Rajini films to be over the top, for their hero to do the impossible, romance beautiful women, utter lines that will soon become common lingo, all in his unique style – and never mind that all of it calls for suspension of disbelief.
Rajini films come with huge expectations. This has to do with the way Rajinikanth, a bus conductor in a previous life, arrived on the scene, breaking the mould of the Kollywood hero and establishing himself as a talented actor. He then went on to become the ‘Style Mannan’ with his distinctive mannerisms and later simply, Superstar, enjoying the status of a demi-god among fans.
Rajini’s films, starting from his debut as the brooding anti-hero in Aboorva Ragangal, the early Moondru Mudichu, a string of blockbusters like Baashha, Annamalai, Muthu – which won him fans even in Japan – the whistle-a-minute Padayappa, have all been building blocks in a career that seems like the stuff of dreams. There has been the odd bump on the starry route: after a hiatus, his comeback film, Baba, failed to make waves, and neither did Kuselan.
But in the last decade or so, even with his receding hairline and other signs of ageing, Rajinikanth has played a young hero and managed to notch up superhits like Chandramukhi, the sci fi Enthiran, and the outlandish but utterly watchable Sivaji,The Boss. It has been a downward slope since then. The long-in-the-making Kochadaiyaan failed to capture the imagination of the audience and now along comes the Lingaa debacle.
Could the ultimate Superstar be losing his touch? Fans wish only to believe that this ‘quickie’ by K.S. Ravikumar is the let-down, not their hero. After all, he looked great for 64 – the hairpieces especially were an improvement from previous films – moved with grace and delivered such clever lines as he had with panache.
More neutral viewers are beginning to wonder whether Rajinikanth’s best is behind him. Should he perhaps be choosing roles that are closer to his real age instead, that showcase the phenomenal acting talent admired so widely in films like Mullum Malarum?
Whatever the case, Rajinikanth can never be written off. His fans, who are legion, now await the reinvention of Superstar. What a celebration that will cause in Kollywood!
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