Is Rajnikanth’s new movie Kaala suffering due to his pro-BJP leanings?  

Known as the god of Tamil cinema, actor Rajnikanth finds himself on the wrong side of his fans for his remark on ‘anti-socials in Sterlite protest’, a stand similar to that of the BJP

Photo courtesy: PTI
Photo courtesy: PTI
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Kavitha Muralidharan

On March 30, a week before the much-awaited release of his movie Kaala, actor Rajinikanth visited the families of victims in Thoothukudi firing. The visit came up a cropper.  From being questioned by a young protester on who he was, to his remark on ‘anti-socials in Sterlite protest’, Rajinikanth managed to do everything in his capacity to earn the public wrath. The last straw was when the actor blew his lid in a press meet.

The anger among the section of public soon led to a call to boycott Kaala. Days before Kaala was scheduled to be released, social media was agog with debates on the need to boycott Kaala to protest Rajinikanth’s apparent right-wing politics or to watch the ‘movie just as a movie’. While a section argued that Rajinikanth was using the
film to further his political interests, a few others said the attacks were ‘indirectly aimed at director Ranjith.’

With only four films to his credit, the young and astutely political Ranjith, has made waves in the tough terrain of Tamil cinema by coming up with films which reflect his political beliefs without compromising on the language of cinema.

After its release on June 7, Kaala is in the news for different reasons. Clearly, with the kind of politics it speaks, the film has left its right-wing supporters red-faced.  Observers say the film puts across a political message that is starkly different from what Rajinikanth seem to have expressed in Thoothukudi

But Kaala could also have been first film of Rajinikanth to have courted many controversies. Reports suggested the response to booking was ‘very lukewarm’ – uncharacteristic for any Rajinikanth movie in Tamil Nadu. Industry experts cite different reasons: “There has been a change in ticket pricing, and a ticket now is priced at over 200. Also, Kaala release has coincided with reopening of schools. Obviously, many families wouldn’t be keen to spend so much on watching a movie after school expenses. Also, the producers strangely played it down – the promotion was not as good as was done for Kabali,” says a trade analyst.

But he also points out that Kaala has made 1.76 crores on day one in Chennai – a new record for the city. “Of course, this could also be because of ticket pricing nevertheless the reality is the call to boycott Kaala has not been transferred to ground from the social media.”

After its release on June 7, Kaala is in the news for different reasons. Clearly, with the kind of politics it speaks, the film has left its right-wing supporters red-faced.  Observers say the film puts across a political message that is starkly different from what Rajinikanth seem to have expressed in Thoothukudi. It was an irony of sorts that the BJP which went to town with its opposition for a film like Mersal chose to express its support for Kaala ahead of its release only because Rajinikanth was in it.

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