June 7, 2018
Global release of Rajinikanth’s Kaala on Thursday early morning has evoked fan frenzy across cities, taken to yet another level in Tamil Nadu, but across the border in Karnataka it is a multitude of disappointed fans of the Thalaivar who congregated outside fil theatres that declined to screen the film.
Cauvery issue held up the release of the film in Karnataka as the film theatre owners and film chambers decided against screening of the film.
Hoping against hope, Santosh Hegde, a die-hard Rajinikanth fan bought tickets for Kaala film at a theatre in Chennai but after court rulings from Delhi and Chennai came in, he decided to stay put in Bangalore instead. And this is my mistake he told media persons as he held up his smartphone to show the Kaala tickets of Mayazal theatre in Chennai as the cause of his total dejection.
Activists of Kannada Rakshana Vedike went around theatres and urged the exhibitors not to screen the movie. Though there was heavy deployment of police, the theatre owners themselves did not want to take the risk and some were even siding with the protesters saying that “water is more important than a film.”
Even Rajinikanth’s pleadings, in Kannada language, failed to cut ice with the protesters insisting that they were also fans of the superstar, but water was more important. Rajinikanth had urged the setting up of the Cauvery Management Board, a stand that irked Kannada activists and fringe groups of Karnataka. Incidentally, Rajinikanth grew up in Bangalore and has strong Karantaka roots as well.
But in his adopted home of Tamil Nadu, madness erupted on the streets since Wednesday night when fans queued up in front of theatres to catch the early morning show that began at 4 a.m. Crackers being burst, milk offerings to Rajinikanth cut outs, dancing and singing on streets with fans congregating in Chennai from all over the globe presented yet another proof of what Thalaivar is all about.
It is not for nothing that the BJP wants to use its superstardom as a key element of its Tamil Nadu strategy. So far, Rajinikanth has indicated that he would launch his own party, but there were hints from people close to him that he could do business with the BJP in the run up to elections in the form of an electoral understanding, if not an alliance.
But already he has begun facing flack for his anti-Sterlite protesters comments that have been castigated by most of the political parties. If Rajinikanth is thus getting brickbats from people and politicians, his “good friend” Kamal Haasan too took him to task on his comment that Sterlite protesters were anti-social elements.
Reel hero, Rajinikanth, has already won the war if the frenzy on the streets is any indication. But the real life Rajinikanth faces a political test at a time when the BJP is itself coming under pressure in its bastions and strong holds in North India.
But for the record, on the streets of Chennai and other towns, scenes were of celebration of another Rajinikanth starrer. In several places, his fans cut cakes to mark the event.
But some protesters and pro-Tamil activists opposed Rajinikanth’s views on the violence in Tuticorin during the anti-Sterlite protests earlier last month.