Thalaivar was the first film actor I knew growing up in Chennai in the 90’s. He was the first person I knew when I was made aware that something awesome called ‘movies’ exist . This was a time before Star TV/Bay watch/WWF/Prime Sports was yet to make its foray into the black and white tv set of our middle class living room and DD1 was wikipedia, wikileaks, google, youtube and facebook rolled into one.
classmate 1 : “ what sound does kroor singh make ?”
me : “yakoo”
But I had a strict ‘south Indian films are not a part of your school syllabus’ kind of upbringing. (English films on the other hand were highly encouraged to the point where dad would get us VCR cassettes of ET, Jaws and the likes to improve my sorry English marks. I know right ! parents always go the extra mile to ensure their kid doesn’t get left behind when it comes to academics. Reminds me I should seriously write about growing up in Chennai before dementia sets in)
I had seen more episodes of Ramayan, Mahabharat, Chandrakantha than Telugu/Tamil movies. I got to watch tamil movies only once a year when they would be screened at the open air auditorium in the community park. Describing it as an open air auditorium is a great exaggeration; it was just a cracked white washed wall bang in the middle of the park. Once a year a white cloth would be hung across it and the colony administrative board would get a 35 mm movie projector and it would be show time. I was more mesmerized by the divine sound of the spindle spinning rather that the rumbustious crowds or the movie. The sounds a 35mm projector makes is music to my ears. Dunno why ?? (just listening to the youtube clip embedded below itself is making me horny)
Back to Rajinikanth. So after an uneventful upbringing devoid of the whole ‘southern India movie experience’ I was put in boarding school in Vizag. I dwelled amongst folk who lived and breathed movies. It was awkward. I felt out of place but I made up for lost time by learning about movies from talking non-stop to the fellow compatriots while eating, peeing, showering etc. Then on Dec 31, 1998 we had a 35 mm screening of Basha. For the entire duration of the movie the hairs on my body were erect in rapt attention. I was induced to Rajinism and also Nagma such hot broad who gave me wet dreams latter on.
Coming back to today. Was reading a Rajinikanth interview when this question caught my attention.
You do something other stars wouldn’t. You go out as you are, in a kurta, balding hair as it is without dyeing. And your fans are all right with it?
No. It is important to them how you look on celluloid. They’re paying for that. There they feel that my hero should look like a hero. Outside, it doesn’t matter. People are intelligent, they know everything. Why unnecessarily give yourself discomfort?