|A man prays at a mosque in Ayodha on Friday (AFP)
Oct. 1: If you dont watch a Rajini film first day first show, theres no point watching it, declares a true Rajinikanth fan.
Even if that show starts at 4 in the morning. Even if there are 60 shows at a single multiplex. Even if there is a show every 10 minutes at the same property. Chennai woke up — those who went to sleep, that is — to unprecedented movie mania as superstar Rajinikanths latest film Endhiran (Robot) hit theatres today.
There have been Rajini releases before, at least 100 of them — the last one, Sivaji , was in 2007. But not one made at Rs 162 crore — Rs 150 crore the production cost, plus marketing and promotion — and billed the most expensive Asian film ever. Add to that Aishwarya Rai as leading lady and music by A.R. Rahman.
But its not about the Miss World-turned-Bachchan bahu or the double Oscar winner. Its about the 60-year-old superstar in a double role and in almost every frame.
I have seen how enthralled his audiences get with what he puts out, Aishwarya told The Telegraph. So having a legend like Rajinikanth star opposite you was just great. I am really grateful to (director) Shankar for making me a part of this film.
Featuring Rajinikanth as a science professor and an android robot, Endhiran is a visual effects-heavy sci-fi blitzkrieg, shot in places like Machu Picchu and Brazil.
With thousands of Rajini diehards huddled outside Chennai movie screens from last night, a few plexes obliged and the Endhiran screenings started at 4am.
They must have been afraid that the doors would break had they waited till morning, laughs movie buff Kartik Krishnan. Getting tickets has not been easy and there are people who have paid more than Rs 1,000 for a ticket. Watching the film is not enough, watching it before others is the thing.
Not that the options are limited. Of the 3,000 screens playing Endhiran worldwide, around 1,400 are in Tamil Nadu alone, of which about 50 are in Chennai. And if a Chennai screen is playing Endhiran , its likely that its playing just Endhiran.
This is the time for the Rajinikanth festival in the city and in the state…. If you are playing any other movie, its going to run empty, says Chennai-based film editor Vijay Venkataramanan.
So a 10-screen multiplex called Mayajaal on East Coast Road, a few kilometres from Chennai, is screening 60 shows of Endhiran daily. Theres a show every 10 minutes and even then there are no tickets till the middle of next week, adds Venkataramanan.
Why not, with some Rajini fans taking a day off or reporting sick at work to watch back-to-back Endhiran shows.
The Rs 162-crore figure is already looking small.
Says trade analyst Amod Mehra: The producers, Sun Pictures, are very good at controlling piracy and given the start it has got, Endhiran should be a profitable venture eventually.
The Rajini madness is not limited to the south only. While the Ranbir Kapoor-Priyanka Chopra-starrer Anjaana Anjaani enjoys the lions share in terms of the number of shows in the rest of India, Endhiran —not its Hindi version, Robot — is house full in Mumbai and Calcutta.
I watched the film at Fame (Andheri) and the hall was full of Tamilians, Kannadigas and Telugus. It was a complete riot, says IT professional Deepak Venkateshan.
In Calcutta, the two Endhiran shows at Fame (South City) were sold out for the weekend before any other show of any other movie.
As a famous Rajini joke goes: There is no such thing as evolution, its just a list of creatures that Rajinikanth allowed to live.