In Chennai, fans queued up as early as five in the morning to get tickets for Rajinikanth’s latest offering, Robot, which opens in theaters tomorrow. In USA, tickets for premiere shows are selling for as much as $40.
In Mumbai, a theatre owner closed down his hall last weekend and is reconstructing it to open a brand new place for the 60-year-old star’s fans — before the release of the film.
The film, which also stars actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, 37, is making waves internationally, too. In America, particularly in Seattle — Rajinikanth’s largest fans hub in USA — the film is already sold out!
Though South Indian cinema has rarely had many takers in Delhi, this time around, cinema hall owners say there is a positive buzz around the film. "Our advance booking opened on Wednesday, but enquiries started coming much before that. There is a strong buzz around both the Tamil and English version (Endhiran and Robot respectively). If the movie does well, it will set a trend," says Jayendra Banerjee of Satyam Cinemas.
In other halls, too, movie-goers have shown a keen interest in the film, and are enquiring about the tickets. "10 per cent of the people who visit enquire about Robot. Our sources are saying that it will get an outstanding opening," says Deepak Taluja of Fun Cinemas says.
In Chennai, tickets sold out within minutes of the ticket window opening. Thousands of fans had spent the night outside theatres to get one.
The fanfare doesn’t stop at buying tickets, though. Rajinikanth’s worshippers are climbing and crawling as many as 500 stairs to temples to pray for the success of the film. Advance booking usually opens three days before the release, but, in this case, it opened 10 days earlier.
Nambi Rajan, the owner of the 68-year-old Mumbai-based cinema hall, Aurora theatre, pulled down Dabangg in its second week in order to furnish his theatre for ‘Rajini sir’. “I am facing a lot of loss. I pulled down Dabangg, plus I am spending money on painting and refurnishing seats. It is all worth it for Rajini sir. The workers are working 24 hours, and the fans come here and say, ‘I hope it will open in time’. And I tell them, ‘You will watch first day, first show here’.”
The film has recorded the highest advance booking for any Indian movie in the US. Buzz has it that the film, which was made on a budget of R150 crore, has already sold distribution rights for R200 crore.
The big deal about Rajinikanth
When Rajinikanth’s name comes in the credits, one cannot hear anything for the next two minutes. The audience stands and chants ‘Thalaivar! Thalaivar!’ (which means ‘boss’ in Tamil)
In 2007, Asia Week magazine named Rajinikanth as one of the most influential people in South Asia.
His fans have established a special Sahasra Lingam with special prayers by priests at the Kotilingeshwara Temple
After being paid a salary of R26 crore for his role in Sivaji (2007), he became the second highest paid actor in Asia, next only to Jackie Chan
Rajinikanth has copyrighted his voice. No one can mimic him without his consent
The last laugh
As Rajinikanth’s latest film hits theatres, jokes on the actor’s super-human abilities are doing the rounds again. Here’s a sample:
Rajinikanth doesn’t wear a watch. He decides what time it is
Rajinikanth’s email id is gmail@ rajinikanth.com
Rajinikanth can drown a fish
Rajinikanth once kicked a horse in the chin. Its descendants are today called giraffes
Rajinikanth can strangle you with a cordless phone
Rajinikanth did, in fact, build Rome in a day
Rajinikanth electrocuted Iron Man
Rajinikanth knows Victoria’s secret
Rajinikanth killed the dead sea
Rajinikanth can divide by zero
Rajinikanth once got into a fight with a VCR player. Now it plays DVDs
The Bermuda Triangle used to be the Bermuda Square, until Rajinikanth kicked one of its corners off
Rajinikanth has counted to infinity, twice
Rajinikanth can play the violin with a piano
When Rajinikanth does push-ups, he isn’t lifting himself up. He is pushing the earth down
Rajinikanth can delete the recycle bin
Full coverage: Rajinikanth's Endhiran