G.O.A.T – Why is Rajinikanth a phenomenon
Few would have noticed, but it was the first time that Superstar Rajinikanth donned the role of a grand father in his August 2023 outing titled “Jailer”. While the actor, who will complete 50 years in Indian Cinema in 2025 has been the darling of Producers & Distributors for two decades continuously in the 80s and 90s, the actor’s charisma started waning around the turn of the millennium. His own production film “Baba”, one of his career best according to his ardent fans, was the worst flop of his career. Thereafter, the actor’s films have been nothing short of a roller-coster ride.
As I write this article after 5 days since the release of Jailer, the film is said to have grossed Rs. 350 Cr (USD 65 mn approx.) worldwide at the box office as per market estimates.
Day 1 - ₹ 95.78 cr
Day 2 - ₹ 56.24 cr
Day 3 - ₹ 68.51 cr
Day 4 - ₹ 82.36 cr
Day 5 - ₹ 49.03 cr
Total - ₹ 351.92 cr
For a 72-year old actor, at the fag end of his career, this is nothing short of a miracle of sorts. The film, in which his character is that of a former jailer at Tihar, is reminiscent of what his fans of the 80s and 90s would eulogise to see – less talk & more action on the screen, dotted with one-phrase punch dialogues.
It was nothing but a surprise for me to witness 20-something kids croon “Thalaivar Alappare” and dance in the open area near the main screen when the actor walks in slow motion to the song titled “Kaavala” – he is not making any moves in the song but the fans are.
And these fans are mostly millennials, born around the turn of the century, who would have certainly missed watching theatrical outings of blockbusters such as Thillu Mullu, Billa, Priya, Mullum Malarum, Rajadhi Raja in the 80s and several others all the way to Ejaman, Veera, Annamalai, Baasha, Muthu, and of course, Padayappa in the 90s.
What is surprising, is the actor’s charisma has been held in high esteem for three generations atleast, something that only a few Hollywood stars and perhaps Amitabh Bachhan carries in India.
So, why is Rajnikanth the phenomenon Greatest Of All Times (G.O.A.T), one wonders.
Even as the movie released with much fanfare on 10 August 2023, the actor took to his usual travel plan of visiting the Himalayas on the eve of the movie release. When his fans were singing & dancing for the now charbuster song “Jujube” outside & inside theatres, the actor was offering his prayers at the holy shrine of Badrinath and obeisance to his revered Gurus & Seers in Uttarakhand.
The brand “Rajini” will never fade, many say, though actor Rajinikanth has tried to reinvent himself several times and has even succeeded.
For Ex., after his successive hits of Baasha and Annamalai, the actor’s somewhat formulaic Pandian was a BO disaster. Fret not, he gave his fans “Veera”, a breezy comedy and enacted a role with two wives, again a first in his filmy career.
After the political innuendos of the late 90s, the actor’s Padayappa was among his career best, as an actor as well as at the BO. But the same Director KS Ravikumar’s “Lingaa” in 2014 didn’t cut the ice even with his die-hard fans.
Yet, every time, the actor was pushed down by his own destiny, he bounces back and how. After a phenomenal comeback in Petta (Kabali and Kaala were drubs at worst), the actor missed it again with average outings that were Darbar and Annaathhe. And is now back with a phenomenal success of Jailer.
It is perhaps for this reason Superstar Rajinikanth is considered G.O.A.T.
It is not how we go down with bad times, rather how we deal with our adversities during those trying times and manage the crises to come back that matters. And the actor is a living example and a testament for it.
When quizzed by his creator & Director Late Shri K. Balachander, whether he would perform roles like Amitabh Bachhan did in Cheeni Kum, the actor vehemently said, he never would. He was and has always been glued in to his atypical roles and without any shyness around it.
In the same interview, when asked who was his biggest competition, he said it was none other than Actor Rajinikanth. And that he had do perform better than his previous film. If this doesn’t make one G.O.A.T., then what does, one would wonder.
At this rate, Jailer will not only become his career best in terms of collections, but could also become the first and only Tamil language film (released simultaneously in Telugu & Hindi) to garner over Rs. 750 Crores in its lifetime at the Box Office spanning 7 weeks or less.