That is what happens when ‘The Man’ Rajnikanth enters the screen with his scorching screen presence. Flower petals shower, horns blare and the theatre lights flare, taking you right next to him. Then the magic happens, as Rajni slowly but surely pulls you on a momentous journey with him in his movie.
My first tryst with the ‘Mass Opening Scene’, as it is called, started with the movie ‘Arunachalam’ and continued with ‘Padayappa’. The first 10 minutes of the movie, starts with the heroine (the late Soundarya) being amazed by everyone in a village who speak only about one phenomenal person, Arunachalam. He is depicted as a demi-God who has descended upon this world to erase all our difficulties. The build-up reaches a climax when she (along with us) finds ‘Arunachalam'. And Lo Behold! Therein enters ‘thalaivar’ in all his glorious form and there in, starts the opening song, where he spreads the pearls of wisdom needed for life.
The opening act along with the opening song had even a non-movie buff (at that time) cheering on for him. That set me and the others on this campaign for justice against all the evil thrown at him (being thrown out from his home, denied his father’s rightful property and finally his lady love questioning his integrity). The movie ‘Padayappa’ does one better as Rajni kisses a snake in the opening scene, which to this day has been a remarkable feat. If we add in the opening scene and songs of Annamalai, Basha, Muthu (to name a few), no other actor has or will generate the whistle and shouts as much as ‘thalaivar’
These strong images of ‘thalaivar’ are imprinted into every little kid from the 90s and form the backbone of ‘Rajni’ folklore. However, after the drubbing of movie ‘Baba’, Rajni has understood to underplay these opening scenes so as to give more credibility to the characters in his story. His movies’ Sivaji – the Boss’ and ‘Enthiran 2.0’ have raked in the moolah, but failed to generate the hysteria of the past.
However, the last few movies have neither failed to generate the money nor furthered Rajni’s fame. My disappointment reached a crescendo with the movie ‘Kaala’, wherein Rajni is shown playing cricket in the first scene in a non-emphatic fashion. It is understood that his character would need to be realistic, but this level of ‘non-impactful’ opening scene is now available in the regular Facebook videos
With Rajni’s imminent political entry, the last of his films is expected to be with Karthick Subburaj (his ardent fan). I hope it will, for one last time, will generate the goosebumps that is so much sought after, by thalaivar fans and ordinary people, who try to haul themselves from their normal boring life with a Rajni movie and scream ‘Thalaivaaaaaaa….’.
P.S: I am not a Rajni fan, but love all his masala movies immensely.