Tamil superstar Rajinikanth’s new film Sivaji, will be released in Karnataka on June 15 with no fanfare and with little publicity.
Sources in the film industry say only 10 Tamil prints and four prints of Telugu-dubbed version of the film have been ordered for Karnataka. The film’s distributor and theatres are tight lipped and have shunned publicity.
Industry sources say distribution rights of Sivaji have been sold in Karnataka and Kerala for around Rs 3.50 crore. The film is expected to be a big hit in Karnataka but has not been publicised like Rajnikanth’s previous films Chandramukhi and Baba.
Not one advertisement about film has been published and there are no cut outs, banners or posters in big centres like Bangalore or Mysore where Rajinikanth has a big fan following. Yes, the Telugu dubbed version is being promoted in Kolar and Chitradurga but that’s because these districts have a sizable Telugu-speaking population.
Rajinikanth doesn’t need promotion though. Sivaji’s music is a hit and multiplexes like PVR and INOX sold out tickets for the film days ago.
Industry sources say three theatres in Bangalore teamed up and paid an advance of Rs. 1 crore to screen Sivaji. Theatres in Kolar district, too, have shelled out huge advances for screening the Telugu dubbed version of the film. Bangalore has a high Telugu-speaking population, but the Tamil version will be screened in the city first.
Media shy for a reason
Sivaji has not been hyped in Karnataka because of fears that pro-Kannada activists may try to block the film. The activists say Tamil Nadu is not cooperating with Karnataka on the Cauvery river water dispute and so Tamil films should not be released in Karnataka.
A powerful segment of the Karnataka Film Chamber though is keen about the film and even wanted an earlier release with more prints.
As Rajinikanth was born and brought up in Bangalore, he enjoys a special status among many Kannadigas. Many people in the Kannada film industry adore him and he is good friend of actor Ambareesh, a former union minister.
Sources in the film industry say three top theatres in Bangalore had decided not to screen Sivaji because they feared attacks by pro-Kannada groups but changed their minds after Ambareesh assured them of security.
Rajinikanth has praised many Kannada films and speaks highly of Kannada stars and legends. The Kannada film industry has therefore not opposed Sivaji but there is an apprehension that it may lose a large chunk of revenue if the film is a big success.
(The writer is a noted film journalist)