Tag Archives: Tamil Cinema

Kottucherry கும்பல்!

“நல்லதோர் குடும்பம் பல்கலைகழகம்” என்றான் கண்ணதாசன்,
அதற்கு எடுத்துக்காட்டு எங்கள் KG என்கிறேன் இந்த நித்தின் ஸ்ரீனிவாசன்!

ஒரு மாதம் இருக்கும் இந்த Whatsapp குரூப் ஆரம்பித்து,
ஆனால் நாம் கற்ற விஷயங்களோ தொள்ளாயிரத்து பத்து

ராகவன் மாமா மூலம் கர்நாடகா -வை ரசித்தோம்
சித்தார்த்தின் கேமரா மூலம் கொடைக்கானலில் வசித்தோம்

அம்மாவின் மொக்கை Forward -களை படித்தோம்
KJ பெரிப்பாவினால் பழங்களின் நன்மைகளை அறிந்தோம்

விஜி ஆன்ட்டி இடம் ஆங்கிலம் கற்றோம்
பரத் மூலம் கால்பந்து ஞானம் பெற்றோம்

MRVS அத்திம்பேரின் வீடியோ -வை பார்த்து வியந்தோம்
பாப்பா அத்தை share செய்த பழைய போட்டோக்களை பார்த்து மகிழ்ந்தோம்

நந்து பெரிப்பாவின் கவிதையில் மெரசல் ஆனோம்
விஜயன் சித்தப்பாவின் எழுத்துக்கு அடிமை ஆனோம்

ரமேஷ் பெரிப்பாவை நினைவு கொண்டோம்
விஜயன் சித்தப்பாவின் தரிசனம் கண்டோம்

மைதிலி பாட்டிக்கு பிறந்தநாள் வாழ்த்து பாடினோம்
ரவி பாலுவின் கதை கேட்டு வாடினோம்

என்னையும் ஒரு கவிஞன் ஆக்கிய KG -க்கு நன்றி

நித்தின் ஸ்ரீநிவாஸ்

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Movie Review: Kaaka Muttai

It’s good that “Kaaka Muttai” has released with English subtitles, for it’s not a film that deserves to reach only the Tamil audience. Addressing the issue of urban poverty and cheap aspirations of the urban poor, it is a landmark film in Indian cinema. The director hasn’t gone out of the way to force comedy tracks into the story. Rather, they flow seamlessly with the script.

Kudos to Dhanush and Vetrimaaran for encouraging such scripts to make it to the silver screen. Unlike mainstream cinema where there are certain scenes placed in the movie to please every section of the society, Kaaka Muttai doesn’t have a single scene or dialogue that is not needed for the flow of the movie. No wonder it’s so short in running time: less than two hours.

It’s a single line story. Two urban poor kids go on a mission to have Pizza from a Pizza outlet.

Kaaka Muttai

Kaaka Muttai

Screenplay is the real king, followed by the lead actors – the two kids, their mum and the two sidekicks who ensure you laugh your ass off in every scene they come.

Everyone knows Dhanush and Simbhu have become close friends. It’s evident in the movie too. There’s a guest appearance from Simbhu, there’s once scene where the kids see a film scene  from a Simbhu flick and there’s another scene where there’s a reference to the random controversies that are spun on him.

Kaaku Muttai makes you laugh and makes you think at the same time. MUST WATCH!

Music Review: A R Rahman’s OK Kanmani

Where does Rahman find these voices?
He introduced Ghazal singer Hariharan into Tamil playback singing in his very first album, Roja. Rest is history.

Carnatic Singer Unni Krishnan got his break into playback singing, courtesy Rahman. Rest is history.

<Now add a list of a few dozen other singers who got introduced by Rahman>

And then he discovered Shashaa Tirupati of “Aye Mr. Minor” fame from “Kaaviya Thalaivan”.

“OK Kanmani” is an album Shashaa is not going to forget for the rest of her life.

OK Kanmani: Rahman-Mani Ratnam combo is back!

OK Kanmani: Rahman-Mani Ratnam combo is back!

Shashaa’s voice would make it to my list of “Top 3 things that stand out in OK Kanmani” list. “Naanae Varugiren” is out of this world. Dot. Darbaari Kaanada is a soul-stirring raaga and one of my favorite raagas too. There are a lot of cult Tamil songs in Darbaari Kaanada. Have shared links to few of my favorites songs in this raaga, below:

1. Kaatre en vaasal (Rhytm, Rahman)

2. Malare Mounama (Karna, Vidyasagar)

3. Nee kaatru, naan maram (Nilaave va, Vidyasagar)

4. Aagaya vennilave (Arangetra velai, Ilayaraja)

“Naane varugiraen” would make it to this list now.

Shashaa doesn’t stop with this song. She weaves magic along with Karthik and Rahman in “Parandhu sella vaa”.

“Kaara Aattakkaara” struck a chord with Rahmaniacs right from the time the teasers for OK Kanmani got released a few weeks back. The song has an enlivening feel to it, with gentle acoustic strums to back the vocals. The transition from song to rap and back is seamless, as always, from Rahman.

“Mental Manadhil” is the new “New York nagaram”. It’s fresh and it’s stylish. Rahman’s pronunciations stand out in this song. For example, the way he says “taka taka taka”, among others. The female version is equally catchy.

Karthik sure does know a thing or two about rendering awesome solos, irrespective of the genre. With “Sakthi kodu”, “Girlfriend”, “Usurey pogudhu”, “Vinnai thaandi varuvaaya” and now “Hey Sinamika”, we’ve come to realize that the ARR-Karthik solo combo can never disappoint.

And when was the last time we heard Rahman “sing” semi-classical? “Malargal kaettaen” was a complete surprise when I heard Rahman singing classical at the lowest of scales his vocal chords could afford, as opposed to the high-pitch tracks he generally sets aside for his own voice.

Kutty Thala A. R. Ameen makes a cute entry into playback singing with “Maula Wa Sallim”. Just one word to describe the song. Cute.

“Theera Ulaa” just grows into you. Like any Rahman song, the number of layers in this track is higher than the number of orders that Flipkart gets on a monthly basis. Listen to “Theera Ulaa” with earphones plugged deep into your ears and discover the phenomenon that is Rahman.

All said and done, is “OK Kanmani” the best of Rahman-Mani Ratnam combo? Nowhere close to.

Does it join the league of Rockstar, Roja, Alaipayuthey, VTV and the likes? Nope.

Is it better than Kadal? Not yet.

Better than Kaaviya Thalaivan? May be.

Better than Lingaa? Hell, yes.

Better than “I”? Hell, yes.

Best of Rahman in recent times? Hell, yes.

To read more posts related to music, click here.

Post on Kamal Haasan

No, none of his movies are releasing in the near future. Nor is his birthday round the corner. Just felt like writing it. A post on Kamal Haasan, from an objective fan.

Till I was in Class VI or so, it appeared to me as though Rajnikanth was the only real hero, while all others were merely trying to be one. I was a kid when his career best films like Annamalai, Baasha, Arunachalam, Padayappa, etc. were released.

Only Kamal Haassan’s full length comedy movies like Panchathantiram, Avvai Shanmukhi, Michael Madana Kama Rajan and the likes were understood and appreciated by the kid in me. Pretty sure it would have been the case with most of you who were born in the sane 90’s generation.

Michael Madana Kamarajan saw Crazy Mohan's first partnership with the Ulaga Nayagan. Over the next two decades, many such projects followed

Michael Madana Kamarajan saw Crazy Mohan’s first partnership with the Ulaga Nayagan. Over the next two decades, many such projects followed

It is only as I grew older that I was able to appreciate Kamal Haassan’s works; rather masterpieces. The man who gave his heart and soul and money for Tamil Cinema. Though it will be an Apples vs Oranges comparison, I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that throughout most of his career, he’s been overshadowed by the Midas Man Rajnikanth, at least within the borders of Tamil Nadu.

Too much awesomness in one pic - Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan

Too much awesomness in one pic – Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan

Now this doesn’t mean that Rajni’s works were superior than Kamal’s. In fact, they weren’t. Kamal’s movies were a class apart. That turned out to be his problem. Most of his movies couldn’t (still can’t) reach to the vegetable seller or the blue collar worker, unlike Rajni’s simple rags-to-riches sagas or hero-triumphs-villain stories.

Appu (Aboorva Sagotharargal), Velu Naicker (Nayagan), Avvai Shanmukhi, Indian Thatha, Nalla Sivam (Anbe Sivam), Sakthi (Thevar Magan), Raja (Vasool Raja MBBS), etc. are immortalized characters in celluloid, thanks to the Ulaga Nayagan. It’s sometime hard to even imagine that diverse characters (Both physically and in character) such as these were played by a single man.

I still can’t believe how he pulled off a Panchathantiram (a laugh riot), immediately after Hey Ram (an intense film) which was in turn preceded by Thenali (a laugh riot). He got his first National Award at the age of 6, at an age when most of us would have found it tough to even spell “National Award”. That should explain it.

Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan may be his idol and guru, but according to me (and many others), he’s gone past his idol in many ways (No, I am not referring to Dasavathaaram where he played 10 roles in a movie to surpass Sivaji’s 9 in Navarathri).

Master and the pupil

Master and the pupil

He’s more than just an actor; a dance master, singer, director, producer, lyricist and what not. Vijaya T. Rajender comes a close second to Kamal when it comes to doing multiple things, in Tamil Cinema.

But unlike Vijaya T. Rajender, Kamal not only does multiple things, but is also very good at all of them. Had Kamal not entered into acting at all and pursued a career in playback singing, he would still have given the likes of the great SPB a run for their money. This is not the Kamal fanatic in me speaking/typing. It is an avid music lover’s humble observation. Songs like “Yaar Yaar Sivam” (Anbe Sivam) never fail to give Goosebumps even today, after 11 years. Not to forget he’s done playback singing for Thala Ajith and Dhanush.

Same holds true for Kamal, the dance master. Salangai Oli, and more recently “Unnai Kaanaadhu” (Vishwaroopam). Enough said.

Kamal Haasan in Salangai Oli

Kamal Haasan in Salangai Oli

I am not a die hard Kamal fan. At least, I cannot call myself one, because I haven’t seen most of his films that released before 1990. Nayagan, Moondram Pirai, Aboorva Raagangal, Salangai Oli, 16 Vayathinile, Unnaal Mudiyum Thambi, Punnagai Mannan are some of the very few classics of his that I’ve seen.

As a fan, it pains to see that out-of-the-world masterpieces like Anbe Sivam and Hey Ram bombed at the Box Office. That’s how cruel life can be, if you are Kamal Haasan.

Anbe Sivam

Anbe Sivam

His Wikipedia profile says he has had two wives in the past and is currently living in with another woman. But he’s been faithful to one wife. All his life. Cinema. That’s all we fans need.

He preaches Atheism, but young budding actors won’t believe him, because for them, there’s at least one God. Him.

If someone writes a series of books on Kamal Haasan, spanning 10 volumes, it’ll still fail to appreciate/explain what this man has contributed to Tamil and World Cinema. Let alone a tiny blog post.

All I can ask him now is, “Aalwarpettai Aandava, when is Marudhanayagam coming?”

Movie Review: Veeram (No spoilers)

I distinctly remember that day, some four years ago in Coimbatore when I persuaded few of my mallu friends to join us for “Asal”. I told them Thala will not disappoint. That day, unfortunately, he did.

Today was different. Completely different. Veeram – SDFS (Second Day First Show) @ Inox, Virugambakkam.

The story can never be more predictable. Hero has a happy family. Villain (having a huge mustache and dishevelled hair) does all the wrong. Hero can do no wrong. Thugs fly like ping pong balls. Hero triumphs and wins everyone’s heart.

But the fact that Ajith dons the role of Hero makes a lot of difference.

Other than the Super Star Rajnikanth himself, there’s no one ( I REPEAT, NO ONE) in Tamil Cinema who has a screen presence as huge as Thala.

Not Vikram. Not Suriya. Definitely not Vijay.

The slo-mo walk of Ajith as his face is revealed from under the umbrella in one of the scenes got a ear deafening roar from the audience.

Awesome scene in the movie

Awesome scene in the movie

There were many other scenes (backed by very good re-recording and camera work) which other actors can pull off only in their dreams.

Veeram also witnessed Ajith in a light-hearted role (at least for most parts of the movie) after many years. Billa, Mankatha, Arrambam, Asal all saw only the serious Ajith.

The comedy track involving Santhanam, Tamannah and Ajith’s family in the first half is hilarious. Thambi Ramiah tries his bit in the second half.

DSP’s songs gave us a break to catch up with friends. Barring the intro song and the song by Adnan Sami, other songs aren’t even hummable. Take nothing away from DSP in the re-recording though.

Some punch lines by Thala were very deep. To quote one, “Unna suththi irukkaravangala nee paathukitta, mela irukkuravan unna paathupaan” (If you take care of the people around you, God will take care of you).

If Tamil Cinema is an empire, then Ajith is its undisputed king and he is here to stay. Veeram is enough proof.

Tribute to TMS

Like lakhs of people across India, I’ve always wondered how T. M. Soundararajan could effortlessly lend his voice to both Sivaji Ganesan and MGR, when both their characteristics were poles apart.

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I am a great fan of his bold voice! Out of the very few songs of his that I’ve heard, I list down some of my favorites.

1. Avalukkenna, Azhagiya Mugam – Server Sundaram 

2. Pullanguzhal Kodutha Moongilgaley – Krishna Gaanam

3. Naan paarthathiley, aval… – Anbe Va

4. Andha Naal Nyabagam – (which movie is this?)

5. Ullam Uruguthaiyya – listen to it here

His demise today comes just over a month after the passing away of P. B. Sreenivas, another veteran of Tamil playback singing, known for his soft voice.

PB Srinivas 3_EPS

The twin loss of TMS and PBS has left a void in the Indian film industry that is irreparable!

May their souls rest in peace.

Rajinikanth – the Timeless Brand

rajini

Imagine this scene. The Sun is still down. There is a closed gate. Outside, people are thronging the street in thousands, waiting to barge inside the building with the same fury as a raging bull seeing the matador waving a red flag. The frenzy is around a launch.

Ask a college goer in USA to guess what it was, and he would say: “That’s the line for getting the first pieces of Apple iPhone 5”. Ask the same question to a college goer in Chennai, and he would not only say that it’s Enthiran first day first show we are talking about, but would go on to brag about how he was there, right at the front of that line. Not only Enthiran, this is a ritual that is followed during release of all the movies of India’s biggest matinee idol, Superstar Rajinikanth. Sky high cut outs, meters and meters of garlands, tons of flowers, gallons of milk poured on his banners and ear-deafening crackers are common during the release of a Rajinikanth starrer, and would go on for a week.

If there is any brand in India that can give even Apple a run for its money on its day, it’s Brand Rajini. And we have thousands of reasons for our argument. Results of a nationwide poll conducted by Headlines Today on who is India’s biggest Superstar revealed that Rajinikanth won the poll hands down. (Yes, beating the likes of King Khan, Aamir Khan, Big B and others). Rajinikanth has more than 150,000 fan clubs across the country (of course, few in Japan too), which is more than any other star. And when he was taken ill a year back, the whole of Tamil Nadu offered prayers and special poojas for his quick recovery (including the three of us). During the time of elections, politicians from all major parties would be wary of his statement, which has the potential to decide the fortunes of the election. Believe us, the list will go on.

At least in South India, ‘Rajini’ signifies a huge, admired, tested, loved and even worshipped concept; it is consumed and cherished by consumers of all age groups, genders, communities and religions.

Rajinikanth quantum-leaped to super-stardom through wholesome and original entertainment and then evolved and acquired cult status through friendliness, humility and down-to-earth characteristics that every brand dreams of. Brand Rajini is analogous to the much talked about global corporate brands. The only difference is that corporate brands are more prominent, well researched and talked about, while brand Rajini has remained out of the limelight.

We now take a look at the launch of ‘Brand Rajini’, 38 years ago.

Brand Rajini: the launch

Not all brand launches end up being a success. In particular, failures outweigh success stories in the film industry. In the 1970s, the odds were against Shivaji Rao Gaekwad (later, Rajinikanth) ever becoming a Tamil star, let alone becoming a Superstar. It was an era of two matinee idols, MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, holding strong foothold in the industry. Alongside, Kamal Haasan was already grabbing headlines with his versatility and great dancing skills. Finding space between them was not going to be easy for Shivaji Rao, who hardly knew the language. The first ever movie frame he appeared in, carried an ominous subtitle ‘Abaswaram’ (off-key). No one ever imagined that the dark horse who slipped unassumingly into the celluloid world, would later go on to rule the box office while creating his own niche.

The launch of Brand Rajini dispels many branding perceptions. Brands are usually conceived for a target audience in mind, but Rajini had none. Brand Rajini did not have the luxury of a big launch, or even a launch for that matter. It did not use its own name but an adopted one (that of an upright lawyer Rajinikanth, portrayed brilliantly by Sivaji Ganesan in 1973 Magnum Opus, Gauravam)

Why did Brand Rajini stand out?

Differentiation

Establishing individuality was at the nucleus of Rajini’s work and speed was the name of his game. Armed with these traits and his exquisite dialogue delivery, Rajini pronounced differentiation loudly to the people around.

A comparable differentiated global brand launch would be the launch of transparent soap as early as 1789, by Pears.

Narrowing Focus

After attracting consumers through its brand differentiation and characteristic traits, Brand Rajini realized that style and substance were the core strengths that needed to be kept in focus. A Brand signifies trust and hence has the duty to live up to expectations. Brand Rajini did so, sometimes even exceeding expectations. Soon, Brand Rajini’s focused style became the talk of the town. Fans tried to emulate elements of his style: twist of the glasses, chucking of the cigarette to the lips, lighting of matchstick using only one hand. Most failed, but those who succeeded presented them in front of their friends with Rajini’s characteristic punch line: ‘How is it?’ (‘Ithu Epdi Iruku?’).

Starbucks is a comparable global brand that narrowed its focus to brewed coffee which helped them to establish themselves strongly. Subway, focusing only on submarine sandwiches, while initially offering almost anything for the customer on the go, is another example.

Emotional Connect

Rajinikanth played a character role in “Aarilirunthu Arubadhu Varai” – there were no histrionics. His Hunter’s role in “Thaai Meethu Sathiyam” won him the hearts of MGR fans. In him, the fans of Sivaji and MGR saw a common friend. Brand Rajini won the war but without a battle. With acceptance from both sides of the coin, there was no need for a toss. From then on, there was no stopping Brand Rajini. Apple does not sell products; it sells the brand, evoking in people’s minds a mix of hopes, dreams and aspirations. Similarly, Rajini’s admirers don’t go to watch just movies; they go to watch Rajini himself. Brand Rajini sells itself – the products are secondary to the brand.

Powerful taglines

Every successful brand has an awesome tagline. Indeed some brands have taglines which are more famous than the brand name itself. You know which brand we are talking about when I say ‘Just do it’, or ‘I’m lovin’ it’, or ‘Connecting people’.

In the case of the superstar, the tagline is replaced by his punch dialogues. ‘Yen vazhi, thani vazhi’ (‘my path, is a unique path’), ‘Naan oru dhadava sonna, nooru dhadavai sonna maathiri’ (‘If I say it once, it’s as good as saying it hundred times’), and other such punch dialogues became such a rage as they were deeply associated with the character as such. Also, unlike normal dialogues which are fleeting in nature, these dialogues consistently appear during milestone moments in the movie.

Consistency of Communication

Excellent brands have a positioning in the market which they are always aware of. Coke ads have always been about ‘Enjoying’. For years together now, Amul has been following a template of doing a parody on anything which is making news through its cartoon strip like ads and people love it.

The Superstar has been the epitome of consistency and reinforcement. Most of his movies fall into a template of good-vs.-evil, with an introduction song, a fun-filled first half, trouble and pain followed by a climax where the good finally triumphs. Right from the first instant, the audience know that the hero is going to win, but they still stay glued on to see how. Even the trademark way in which his name is displayed, right at the beginning of the movie is an example of this consistency.

Delivering an experience

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People know that the coffee in Cafe Coffee Day is over-priced, but still go there because they cherish that experience. The silencer technology which mutes the engine sound in bikes is ages old, but still Royal Enfield retains the classic thud-thud sound in its engine as its part of the experience of driving a Bullet.

What Rajini offers you is not just a movie, but rather a movie watching experience. The very fact that it is so hard getting a First Day First Show ticket makes it all the more exciting for everyone involved to try and get one. And it almost feels like a mini-victory when the ticket is in hand.
Brand Rajini’s Point of Difference (POD) was that it was desirable, it differentiated and it delivered.

What does Brand Rajini offer for different target groups?

Children        Inimitable style and idiosyncrasies
Youth Punch lines, style, gravity defying stunts
Middle-aged people Simple real-life demeanor as opposed to on-screen presence
Old people Philanthropic deeds and down-to-earth character

BRAND RAJINI’s VALUE

The latest Forbes India’s top 100 celebrity list was topped by Shahrukh Khan and even featured Sunny Leone at number 71 but did not have a place for THALAIVAR (that’s how his fans refer to him as, which means leader). So does it mean that Brand Rajini is not worth it? No! The simple reason can be explained by taking the example of Apple Inc. There is not much frenzy around Apple products throughout the year but before the release of any new Apple product, there is a big hullabaloo surrounding it and the brand speaks volumes for itself. But that does not mean that at other times of the year the brand recall is poor. There is always an awe for the Apple products. Similar is the case with Brand Rajini. The craze amongst the media and audience before a movie launch is unparalleled, but during other times of the year too, there is always the admiration for this man. Even though Forbes India knows the value of this brand, it cannot quantify it, as one of the basic parameters – “Revenues from endorsements” is N/A for Rajinikanth. This makes one wonder more about how he is still able to sustain the BRAND that he is.  Read on.

SUSTAINABILITY

rajinikanth-5

It’s his other face behind the humongous on-screen ones that makes Brand Rajini a sustainable and inimitable brand – SIMPLICITY! The man does not like to wear glamorous clothes or use costly phones for that matter. He is content with wearing rubber slippers and dhoti — that’s the real him. Yet another reason why he is the most celebrated brand is his impeccable success record at the box office. This may bring the question of “What about his failure movies then?” But only his ardent fans know that what this man has done to shield his producers from financial troubles at such times.

GLOBAL PRESENCE

Every brand tries to target the domestic market initially and then gradually moves towards capturing the global market. But for Rajini, in spite of a not so great nationwide brand presence (read courtesy Rajinikanth jokes circulating throughout North India) the case is different. He has a strong and unbelievable fan base in Japan. The 1996 release “Muthu” started the way for the brand. The movie ran for a record 23 weeks with a 90% occupancy throughout and also made it to the coveted broadcast list of NHK. It was also publicly broadcasted in 2002 in Japan which was something very new to the otherwise conservative Japanese public broadcaster. Since then, Rajini is a name known to every household in Japan. The irony is that the movie was never publicized as a Rajinikanth movie in Japan but after the release of the movie, Brand Rajini grew all by itself.

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One may think “Why is brand presence in just one country and especially Japan, celebrated so much and written about?“ The answer is that “Muthu” is the first and the only successful Indian movie released in Japan. This is a territory yet to be conquered even by the likes of Shahrukh or Salman Khan and Bollywood is still hoping to tap the Japanese market.

A brownie point for the readers: The Rajini brand loyalty is so high in Japan but it’s more startling to know that Rajinikanth has not visited Japan even once till now. In marketing terms, we call this “Brand Power”.

Let’s get down to the 4P analysis of “Brand Rajini”

Product:

In his early days, Rajini defied conventions and that defined this star. He started having punch dialogues for himself, had his own style for even a simple walk or while flipping cigarettes and these worked wonders for this conductor-turned-superstar. He made everyone feel like a superstar. Also what sets “Rajini – the product” apart is his humble nature, simplicity and the variations in the roles he has portrayed over the years.

Price:

Price was never a bothering criteria for this brand. Producers never hesitated to pay him even if it was a huge sum.  Why?  Because there was always the guarantee of recovering your money from a Rajini movie in spite of it being a box office hit or flop. He was a man of his words and returned money to distributors and producers if his movie failed. So in such a WIN-WIN situation, the minuscule topic of price never cropped up.

Place/ Position:

So what’s the segmentation and targeting for Brand Rajini? “UNIVERSAL” it is. Only a very few products can be of same utility to all sections and strata of the society. Rajini is one of those elite products. You could be a class A, B, C audience in a movie theatre but the madness is the same across every fan for every Rajini movie. Such a positioning is another reason behind the success of the phenomenon “RAJINI”.

Promotion:

Is there a need for any promotion for this legendary brand? Well we don’t think so and so does Rajini. Unlike the Hollywood and Bollywood heavyweights, he has hardly promoted any of his movies. Brand Rajini is a class apart here as well. He does not seek the audience, the audience seek his divine Darshan and do all the promotion they can. This in turn makes the media do free publicity for his movies.

So with all the marketing Gyaan from Kotler et al., 4P analysis has never been so idealistic for any brand right? Well that’s Brand Rajini for you.

Brand Rajini: Decline and resurgence

Now, it seems as though Brand Rajini is immortal. Hold on. There have been ups and downs even for this brand. Let us have a brief analysis on the decline of the brand. Looking through his career graph spanning 38 years, one can identify three periods in which Brand Rajini was on a decline.

The years 1979 and 1980 were tough for Rajini. Volumes of films, the fan frenzy, non-stop work, new-found wealth and other such circumstances – Brand Rajini was going through a rough patch. Rajinikanth was declared by media to be in a critical mental health situation. There were reports of non-cooperation that disturbed directors. There were reports of violent incidents too. Brand Rajini was in the news for the wrong reasons. With Dharma Yuddam (War for Dharma), Brand Rajini bounced back; Rajini proved that he was not a snuff box and scripted a spectacular recovery.

The second instance of signs of decline of Brand Rajini was around the time of release of Baba (2002). A local political party spread the propaganda that Rajini set a bad example for the youth in the movie; theatre screens were burnt; film reels were snatched. Brand Rajini had failed with Baba. But the brand made an unprecedented move by personally repaying the producers and distributors for their losses. By accepting the truth of failure, Rajini won the hearts of many. But predictions that Baba was Rajini’s last, spread like wildfire. Three years later, Rajini would launch his film Chandramukhi in 2005, which would run for 800 days. Brand Rajini was resurrected, yet again.

Last but not the least, Rajini turned 62 on 12.12.12 (Yes, his fans went berserk that day, needless to say). But the age signifies only one thing. In spite of being treated as God by his fans, this man will also age and will have to retire one day. It is also clear from the number of movies he has been doing off late or the kind of roles he has been choosing. But why is the brand on the decline? In an era where commercials and endorsements makes or breaks a celebrity’s popularity, Rajini has consciously made the decision not to endorse any product or brand. This literally means that he has not told his audience which car to drive or which energy drink is the secret behind his success. But on the other hand, it also means that there is a decline in the Brand Rajini and eventually audience cannot recall the brand. Ten years down the lane, Sachin can still be in touch with the audience by endorsing brands but the way ahead for Rajini is not going to be smooth. Neither can he act in more movies nor does his personal policy of not endorsing brands is going to help him.

So is Rajini bothered about all this? Well we don’t think so. All that he would say is “Aandavan nallavangala sodhippaan, aana kai vidamaatan! (God will test the endurance of good hearted, but will never let them down) “

Will Brand Rajini still survive the test of time? We’ll have to wait and watch.

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This was a cover story written by me and two of my friends Savitha and Bhaskar, for Markathon, monthly Marketing Magazine of IIM Shillong. The cover was designed by Ashok.

You could read the magazine version here.

Reference: Grand Brand Rajini

Movie Review: Paradesi

No spoilers

After watching Bala’s Paradesi, I was reminded of Ajith‘s dialogue in Citizen: Idhu kadhai illa; Karuppu sariththiram

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“Kamban veettu kattu thariyum kavi paadum”.

On similar lines, looks like Bala can make anyone act. Having said that, due credit must be given to Atharva for his commendable performance as Raasa, an ingenuous villager. Almost all actors have done justice to their roles, however small it may have been.

Other than Bala’s strong story, the two things that set Paradesi apart are Cinematography and Vairamuthu’s lyrics.

GV’s music adds value to the visuals but all tracks sound very similar on first hearing. Costume designer has deservedly got the National Award; the costume of Raasa, especially, made of Jute enhances his characterization.

There’s not one hint of any commercial element in the movie. Raasa is not the hero. He is just one of those hundreds of villagers who’d fallen for the bait. The story is just narrated from is point of view. Even if another random villager had been chosen, his suffering and anguish would have been quite the same. That is where I feel this movie stands out.

At a point when the narration says, “48 days later”, you are instantly able to empathize with their journey for those 48 days. Bala has succeeded in bringing that connect between the audience and the movie.

I cannot comment on whether this is Bala’s best ever, because I’ve not seen all his movies fully. But I can say that 50 years down the line, Paradesi will still be remembered for documenting a dark chapter in Indian History in an immaculate manner.