When an OTT got Rajinified
It was a yet another Monday for millions across the world. 23rd March 2020.
But for some of us, it was a special day ahead. A day, Rajini Fans worldwide had marked in their Calendars as an important one. A few lucky of us would watch the Premier twice, others once. As I always wake up in the wee hours and prepare for a 4am “darshan” of Thalaivar at Kasi Theatre or Rohini Silverscreen at Chennai for an FDFS – First Day, First Show, I was all excited from the previous evening onwards. Just that I would be watching it all alone on my iPad in the confines of my favourite chair at home, without the usual brouhaha outside and inside the theatre, save for the whistling, thumping and howling that I would anyway do all by myself. I would after all get to see “Thalaivar” in action with the wilderness on a small screen. The Discovery Plus App premiered at 6am and the Television premiered at 8pm. I was lucky to see both, one alone and the evening session with the family alongside Dinner.
It was the OTT debut of "Into the Wild" feat. Superstar Rajinikanth hosted by Bear Grylls, a much-publicized show that was shot as recently as Feb. ’20. A series made popular by explorer, adventure seeker and avid wildlife conservationist Edward Michael Grylls, this one had Superstar experiencing a day out in the jungle, scenes of the shooting in an interesting promo which started rolling over social media and mainline television a few weeks ago.
Discovery, the Satellite Tv Channel and Discovery Plus, the OTT App were both making a splash across, with quite a lot of promos and previews offline and online; the OTT App made it a paid subscription (to view the show) of Rs. 399 for a year – a quick buck, felt some of us but still, a great opportunity watch our Thalaivar on the small screen for the first time ever and that too, a real life adventure.
The show starts with Grylls meeting Thalaivar in the middle of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and the duo walk, trek briefly, drive in an open Willys Jeep (reminded us of his 80s’ on-screen antics) fix a flat tyre and even walk across a river bed with half their bodies immersed, even as they undertake some (mis)adventures together.
Superstar opens up his heart about his interest in water conservation (He wrote a cheque for Rs. 1 Crore in the year 2002 to the Union Government of India asking them to link National Rivers during the Cauvery Agitation when Karnataka, where we was born and Tamil Nadu where he became what he is, fought on the streets and parts of the state burned), why this one particular natural resource is so precious to maintain for the future generations, how he differentiates “Rajinikanth – the Actor” and Sivaji Rao Gaekwad the person he really is, so he can live at peace, how he has never taken success to his head ever and finally why he believes in the goodness of the Karma Bhoomi that India is and why this Country has been and will always remain peaceful along with a host of other faiths and religions. Thalaivar signs off that it was an unbelievable day for him in his life and that he never expected himself to undertake such an adventure, ever. Even we fans were surprised and impressed at the same time that he attempted this feat!
Kamal Hassan, R Madhavan and Akshay Kumar cheer Thalaivar in short videos through the show while he speaks in a mix of Tamil and English to make the episode sound realistic. DTamil, the regional language Satellite channel had 20 times more viewership for the show that it outpaced other popular GECs like Jaya Tv for the day!
Our hearts bled when his skin rubbed against the wild bushes and bled but as in his real life or Cinema, he emerged a winner and came out unscathed, heaving a sigh of relief for millions of his fans worldwide. Grylls stood in awe when he got to know that Thalaivar was 70 years young and confessed why he is a Superstar, that he gives his best in everything he does. The Premier on the Discovery Tv network across 12 Channels had a cumulative reach of an impressive 12.4 million impressions while the online hashtag #ThalaivaOnDiscovery reaching out to 1.41 billion individuals delivering 3.32 Billion impressions (Source: Meltwater).
The day, small screen and OTTs got Rajinified. Yet another feat that only Thalaivar can accomplish.