inevitable that a burgeoning industry
is built around the star power of celebrities.
It makes use of the celebrity’s
fame to generate business, mostly by way
of mass-manufacturing merchandise. These
merchandise range from printed t-shirts,
mugs, caps, school bags, notebooks and
similar such goodies. This industry might
not sprout around every single celebrity’s
star status because only a few are bankable
in this matter. Like the superstar Rajinikanth.
There are only a few like him in India
whose exponential star presence percolates
into almost all walks of life. He is omnipresent
– be it animated ad films, product
commercials (although he has never done
any himself) or anything that needs emphasis.
Rajini’s star status is often used
to drive home the point and it works more often than
Obviously, Tamil film fraternity is privy to the fact
and uses his name and fame liberally to often grab
attention. For instance, there are some films that
portray their lead men as hardcore Rajini fans and
so on and so forth. So the recent bug that seems to
have bitten Tamil films is recycling Rajini film titles.
More often they are done in the hope to replicate
the success his movies achieved years ago.
Billa kind of started that trend, a trend that has
only grown till the recently released Mapillai. However,
not every movie that used Rajini’s earlier titles
followed either Billa or Mapillai. The difference
being, Billa and Mapillai are rehashed versions of
earlier movies of the same title. Often, the name
is enough to create a positive buzz around the movie’s
After Billa, Polladhavan followed suit but apart from
the title and the Engeyum Eppodum song (from Ninaithale
Inikkum) director Vetrimaaran stayed away from the
Rajini quotient and delivered a slickly and grittily
told movie. But it remains a fact that Polladhavan
garnered huge publicity owing to borrowing its name
from the Rajini starrer film of yesteryear.
As if realizing his luck with naming titles after
his father-in-law’s movies, Dhanush started
showing interest in naming films after Rajini’s.
Padikkathavan and the recently released Mapillai stand
testimony for this. Padikkathavan only had similarity
with name, whereas Mapillai was an adaptation.
There are other films in the industry tried to hop-on
to the Rajini franchise. Lawrence’s Rajadhi
Raja, Suseendiran directed Karthi starrer Naan Mahaan
Alla, upcoming Sundar C flick Murattu Kaalai and a
slightly modified version of a Rajini film title was
used in the Bharath starrer Thambikku Indha Ooru (this
movie ran into trouble and hence the modified title).
Many of our directors would by now realize that it’s
not enough to use Rajini’s ubiquitous star power
to reap success. Yes, it’s enough to promote
a movie but not to make it a success. Success depends
on a movie’s indigenous skills.
On the other hand, the superstar is not fussy about
letting people riding on his name and fame. He is
always prompt to endorse movies that use his titles.
Most of them have Rajini’s blessings. As Henry
Miller would have said, “Fame is an illusion
-- here today, gone tomorrow.”