Over the past 30 years in Tamil cinema, we have seen a lot of actors come by and try their hands at making it large, and it can be said that Superstar Rajinikanth has come closest to winning the heart of many with his films. With his screen presence and unrelenting desire to deliver to fans, Rajinikanth has carved a market for himself through three decades in Kollywood cinema, during which the entire industry has evolved and gone through uncountable changes.
A closer look at his career gives us perspective of one of the most unique actors in the Indian film stage, something that has been managed by few others over quite a long period of time. His formula in recent times has been pretty simple - do anything for the fans with every film in and film out. Rajini doesn't attempt to try out a groundbreaking new technique; he doesn't pick out controversial scripts that raise eyebrows in the industry and society. In all fairness, he doesn't have to. For his extravagance with every movie is a success formula in itself.
In the early stages of his career, the Rajnikanth we see today was very different. Guided by the wise K Balachander, who has been accepted by both Kamal Haasan and Rajini as their mentor, the actor was far from similar. For those of you who weren't around to see him rise up, one cannot dismiss Rajini's success as luck. In fact, he can barely be called fortunate. His journey was gritty, just as anyone else and his evolution through various levels of stardom improved his consistency and success rate on screen, which at the end of the day brings out results no matter what.
Everybody who has known Rajini, has been split into two classes - the ones who fell in love with his performance and style, and others who criticised his lack of acting. It is indeed true that the actor's releases in the past decade have been similar and full of heroism. But, one needs to go back to the days of 'Mullum Malarum', 'Thillu Mullu' and even 'Thalapathy' to realise his ability to bring out the best of emotions. We have still been offered chinks of his best post the millennium, notably his role as the villain in 'Enthiran'. But, to write him off quickly without actually knowing the entire picture is both unfair and immature.
Another aspect of Rajini's films have been their production value. The Superstar has produced a world full of hits, unmatched by anyone who have been in the industry for so long. And how he manages to do so, despite his choice of similar scripts is mind-boggling. All of his hits post the 80s covering 'Veera', 'Annamalai', 'Baasha', 'Muthu', 'Padayappa', 'Chandramukhi' and even 'Sivaji' has seen him to be the fighter against injustice, well accompanied by his characteristic rise against evil and and breach through barriers in society that challenge his character.
While many of his fans and viewers fail to notice, his effort to make his films watchable have always helped Rajini attract entire families to theater halls despite occasional lack of interest that plagued the industry. His films didn't have overly aggressive action shots, no horrific bloodshed that disturbed the young and the old and didn't even have excessive obscenity in the form of a glamorous heroine. It appears as though the actor doesn't give in to marketing tactics or a powerful drive towards reality at the cost of the audience. This once again comes as evidence or his dedication towards his fan base, which grew exponentially with his success.
One of the plus points of Rajini has always been his ability to connect with everyone in theaters. His action sequences are a good example. More than anything else, fans feel outraged when Rajnikanth is dealt the first three blows in a fight and when their star returns to take the lead, they see delight. What's so special about this even when he does it in all of his films, one can never understand? It is rather you experience in a cinema hall, a packed house on day one filled with Rajnikanth worshipers. Even they can't give you the answer you seek, but the experience is never meant to bring up solutions, it rather makes you stop demanding answers.
In stark contrast, Rajinikanth has always been directly rivaled to Kamal Hassan. While the duo never let go of a chance to speak in praise of each other, their different ideologies on screen cannot be ignored. Kamal, who is also a great representation of Tamil cinema has extended it's reaches through technical excellence. While the latter, in Rajini, quietly conquers markets across India, abroad (including Japan, surprisingly) and thanks the almighty for everything. Unlike several other fans who argue on terms of obscurity, both Kamal and Rajini fans can look at each other's films and appreciate the art that is on show, irrespective of the means through which it is being conveyed.
Like all legendary actors who have impacted society, Rajinikanth deserves a fair amount of credit for setting examples through his films. Involuntarily, many of his actions on screens, even the ones that didn't do very well commercially, have inspired many in real life. His life in itself saw him become one of the most prominent personalities in societies, which helped fans realize compassion and determination actually mattered. One might not give credit to the Superstar for such things, but just like MG Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan inspired many through their lives and roles, our man is not far away from doing the same.
In real life, Rajini's success is in stark contrast with his behavior and actions. The actor is possibly at the epitome of humble celebrities. Many have appreciated his kind-heartedness and generosity; right from newcomer actors to the greatest of legends don't have to swallow heavy stones while talking about the star or be obligated to speaking highly on his regard. His celebrity status could put him in the highest positions in society, but the actors prefers to enjoy happiness in his trips to the Kailash and helping out friends which are large in number.
Rajinikanth is as mystery in real life. He breaches the toughest of tasks with ease and achieves success in a matter of minutes. Yet, he is undemanding and prefers to fit into society just like everyone else. His acting is convincing and has amassed the largest group of fans in the world. For all its worth, it's been a privilege witnessing his work, on and off the screen.
We salute you Rajini sir. Happy Birthday!