Aamir Khan has admirers. Salman Khan has fans. Amitabh Bacchan has followers. But RAJNI has devotees. This is what I saw, experienced and felt after watching South superstar Rajnikant's latest blockbuster release, Endhiran (tamil version) at probably the last remaining bastion of Southern cimena, Arora Talkies at Matunga, central Mumbai. Part of my office Mallu / Tamil group of about 10 people, I was amongst the three who did not know Tamil. But was that important? Is that a hindrance? Naaah!!! A resounding NO. As it turned out, it was the the most thrilling movie watching experience of my lifetime. It dwarfed what I felt when I first saw Jurassic Park at Sterling or Inception or even Twister (I wasn't much impressed by Independence Day; was amongst the minority who liked Twister more than Independence Day)
Arora Talkies wore a festive look. There were posters and banners put up by various Rajni fan clubs. An almost 40-feet tall gigantic effigy of his character from the movie (Rajni shades and shiny suit) stood tall and mighty at the entrance. Paper garlands with his mugshots were hung all over the cinema's compound as if somebody's wedding is going on. People were taking pictures themselves, their friends, group pictures, in front of Rajni effigy. When a TV crew arrived and started anticipating people's anticipation, the crowd went ballistic; the excitement was palpable.
The movie started at about 6.30 and as soon as the credits rolled, people were screaming everywhere inside the theatre. Ravi- my very own master translator who is fluent in Malayalee and Tamil- was helping me understand key dialogues. But his otherwise haughty laughter and voice that can cut through a St Gobain glass was muzzled by shrill, screams and yelling going around all over us. Our aviation reporter P.R.S. was literally on a high; a witty line from Rajni was enough to make him dance in the aisles. Even a seatbelt wouldn't have controlled him. It was as if Air Deccan bought over Cathay Pacific. When the words 'Superstar Rajni' came on screen, people went crazy. It was mesmerizing.
That the movie was in Tamil did not matter. It's not really that hard to understand a Rajni blockbuster. Language is hardly a barrier to enjoy a good, unadulterated fun that can liven up the atmosphere. It was electrifying. Every time Rajni came on screen and turned around facing us in a style, people got up, clapped and cheered their hero. Every time he walked in a song in his trademark style, the audience cheered. The climax saw some of the most imaginative visual effects that can even match the best of Hollywood. More than the visual effects, it was the movie making team's imagination that did the trick.
It was the best movie experience of my life. I will take some days to recover....