The Tamil and Telugu audio of Kochadaiiyaan was launched in Chennai on Sunday with the Tamil superstar and film’s hero, Rajinikanth, in attendance along with the movie’s lead actress, Deepika Padukone, and Bollywood hero, Shah Rukh Khan.
While there are impressive plans to release the film in six languages (Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Punjabi, Bhojpuri and Marathi), the first ever occasion in the history of Indian cinema, and in 500 screens across Tamil Nadu, the question that might trouble the producers of the Rs. 125-crore movie is the date of opening. The date happens to be April 11 -- the eve of Tamil and Telugu New Year. So far so good.
But April 11 also happens to be bang in the middle of India’s general elections, which stretch from April 7 to May 12. With the nation’s attention focussed on what seems like a mighty important poll, film producers, distributors and exhibitors could be wary of releasing big budget movies, whose box office performance is of life-and-death importance. And Rajinikanth knows this only too well, having burnt his fingers at least on one occasion in the past – when he had to refund money to distributors/exhibitors.
But disturbing issues like these were pushed aside on Sunday. At the audio launch, Rajinikanth said: “I like stories that are about kings and queens and used to read stories that began with Once Upon A Time…I haven’t done a film based on folklore and that’s why I wanted to do Rana, but I fell ill. When I heard this story of Kochadaiiyaan, I liked it more than Rana and as motion capture technology was used, I did not have to push myself,” he said.
Sunday’s launch was a star-studded event. Apart from Khan and Padukone, actor Jackie Shroff, directors K Balachander, SP Muthuraman, KS Ravikumar, Soundarya Rajinikanth Ashwin and Shankar, music director AR Rahman as well as producers Murali Manohar and AVM Saravanan were present.
Khan recalled how he had once been mesmerised by Rajnikanth’s famous cigarette-throw antic, and quipped that Kochadaiiyaan would herald changes in Indian cinema.
The movie’s director and Rajnikanth’s daughter, Soundarya, said Kochadaiiyaan would offer an opportunity for viewers to see the star perform the Rudra Thandavam (a form of dance) with six-pack abs. There was also a plan to dub it in Japanese for audiences there to watch their Dancing Maharaja – as Rajnikanth is fondly addressed in the county after his Muthu became a hit.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran was in Japan on a long fellowship when he saw the Rajnikanth wave, and the author may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org