Days after Aishwarya Rajinikanth defended her father Rajinikanth saying that he is not a ‘Sanghi’, the superstar has now claimed that the term is “not a bad word.” Speaking to media personnel at the Chennai airport, Rajini said on Monday, January 29, “Aishwarya did not at any point say that ‘Sanghi’ is a bad word. She meant that I am a theist and am fond of all religions and asked why everyone calls me a Sanghi.” The statement comes two days after Aishwarya Rajinikanth spoke at a pre-release event for her upcoming directorial Lal Salaam. At the event held on January 26, Aishwarya said, “People keep saying one word ‘Sanghi’ and I don’t understand why people call him [Rajini] that. Let me say this – Superstar Rajinikanth is not a ‘Sanghi’. If he were a ‘Sanghi’, he would not do Lal Salaam. This film can be done only by a man with a lot of humanity.”
Lal Salaam stars Vishnu Vishal in the lead with Rajini slated to make a cameo appearance as the character Moideen Bhai from Mumbai. The character also appears to be a call back to the plot of Rajini’s 1995 film Baashha in which he was affectionately called Baasha Bai during his days as a don in Mumbai.
Rajinikanth’s political views are predominantly viewed as leaning towards the BJP and its ideological parent, the RSS. His presence at the consecration on January 25 of the much-contested Ram temple in Ayodhya has only intensified the view. In the wake of his attendance at the consecration ceremony, there was renewed criticism of him as a ‘Sanghi’—a colloquial term for those who identify with the far-right Hindutva ideology of the Sangh Parivar.