“Superstar! Vaazhga! Varungala mudhal amaichar! Vaazhga! (Long live Superstar! Long live future Chief Minister!)”. On the long dusty pathway to Rajinikanth’s audio launch inside the YMCA grounds in Nandanam, a group of men in politicians’ white, with badges of their leader’s face pinned on their chests, shout in unison in front of a camera pointed at them. After a short burst of energy, they leave, blending in with the long line of people marching towards the seating area.
The stage has been set and as the sun went down on the city, hoards of Rajni fans eagerly wait for their star to arrive. The audio of Pa Ranjith’s second collaboration with Rajinikanth, Kaala, was released in Chennai amidst great fanfare on Wednesday. Several industry bigwigs attended the event in addition to the film’s cast and crew.
However, for the fans-turned-party-members, who came all the way to Chennai from different parts of the state in vans and SUVs, a political message was what they were looking for.
But Rajinikanth played it safe that day, steering clear of making any headline-grabbing announcements. “I know the media is thinking why I have not come to the point yet. All the people are also thinking the same. What can I do, darlings? The date has not come. There is a duty and the time will come. When the time comes, with the blessings of god and the support of the people, a good time will be born for Tamil Nadu and the Tamil people.”
While he is buying time in the political sphere, the actor gave the crowd a peek into the process that goes into picking scripts.
“After Kabali, I was looking for another good script to work on. That was when Vetrimaaran came to me with an excellent script. It was brilliant. Unfortunately, it was a complete political story and, back then, I had no thoughts of entering politics,” Rajinikanth told the crowds. “Now, Kaala is not political film, the film has politics in it.”
Referring to his passion for rivers in a state that is tense over the Cauvery dispute, he said, “I go to the Himalayas to observe the magnificence of River Ganga. Therefore, water scarcity is something I get passionately drawn into. Naturally, this is one of the reasons why I did Lingaa. Linking rivers is my lifetime dream. If I were to see it materialise, I will rest in peace.”
One could read between the lines of the political innuendos that were casually dropped now and then during the event. “Superstar’s voice is a very powerful one. Using that, I wanted to tell my story. Cinema is a great medium to discuss people’s problems. Even better if it comes from someone who cares about the people and their woes, from someone who has great concern for people’s problem,” said Pa Ranjith.
Also at the event was Dhanush, who said, “First a villain, then a hero, then a star, then style mannan, then superstar. Today thalaivar, tomorrow…” and he trailed off as the crowd went berserk.
Clearly referring to the flak Rajini has faced at several instances following his political entry, Dhanush added, “There’s two ways to reach the top. Those who work hard to get there and then there are those who attack the one’s on top to gain spotlight. I’m sorry if I’m crossing my limits here. While he has managed to stay on top for over 40 years, those he has helped are taking a dig at him now.”
At the end of it, Rajini fans were happy with what they saw. One of them jumped to his defence, saying, “He has not spoken about politics. He has said all that is required for the film. There are many more stages on which he will talk about politics. He will talk very well in those and he will do very good for Tamil Nadu.”