Kabali's release was one of the most auspicious and celebrated days in Tamil Nadu.
Rajnikanth’s block buster, Kabali's release seemed like a grand fest. In fact, it triumphed all the festivals of the year. If you are in Tamil Nadu during a Rajnikanth movie release, you're in for an absolute treat. It is the best time to work in a cinema theatre; that’s the only sure shot way of getting a ticket to the film. If you decide to buy fifteen tickets and sell them outside the theatre during the first weekend, you could name any insane price you want and people would pay up!
Fans have been up since 4 a.m., gearing up for the 8:10 a.m. show, the first show of the day. Any hardcore Thalaivar fan worth their salt will not miss the first day, first show. The streets resemble nothing short of a parade. 15 feet cardboard cutouts of the superstar in all his glory are erected in street corners with a DJ roaring and fans dancing in front of their One True God. Being held up in traffic for the better part of an hour made me realise that this was no ordinary affair. Every Friday, films are being released across the country. They come and go, nobody cares. And yet, here were fans that performed a milk abhishekam and puja in front of Rajnikanth cutouts so the film would be successful.
As this was my first time experiencing the Thalaivar frenzy, I was naive enough to call BookMyShow to try to get a ticket. The harried girl who answered my call thought I had gone crazy to think I could get a ticket on the first day without booking in advance.
I did watch the movie though, on a Monday, no less. I had to see what all the drama was about; I was not disappointed. The ground nearly shook as the crowd screamed when the music came on and in blue block letter the words ‘SUPERSTAR RAJNI’ lit the screen. In a cliched cinematographic move, they did not show the Thalaivar’s face clearly at first. This was the very face plastered on every wall across Trichy, but the euphoric fans screamed like they'd seen it for the first time. In their defense, you have to agree, Rajnikanth’s got serious swag, with the cool blue tinted glasses and a highly classy wardrobe. During the fight scenes, I would worry that Kabali was alone and did not seem to have a gun on him but this sleek rod or gun would slide out of his sleeve and my doubts would be assuaged.
Being half Tamilian and mostly raised in Mumbai, I did not understand many keywords and annoyed the man sitting next to me. When Kabali got shot and the screen went black for the intermission, I turned in panic to the man beside me who had to calm me down. Being a veteran Rajnikant fan, he very confidently said, "He’ll be back." I thought I was above all this devotion, not really, I guess. From Baasha in 1995 to Kabali in 2016; from dialogues like ‘Na oru darva sonna nooru darva sonna maari’ to ‘Ye vazhi tani vazhi’ to something as simple as ‘Kabalidda’, it's been Rajnikanth, all the way!
Nobody was above the craze.