For decades, thousands of Rajinikanth fans celebrated a release of their favourite star’s film by giving a milk bath to giant hoarding cut-outs of their ‘thalaiva’. He also played a milkman in one of his biggest hits, Annamalai, in 1992.
But now, milkmen’s association of Tamil Nadu wants fans to scrap the tradition, saying they should think about poor and hungry people before wasting thousands of litres on posters of Rajini’s latest film, Kabali. The association says approximately 50,000 litres of milk worth Rs 20 lakh will go down the drain just on the first day of Kabali’s release on July 22.
“When 15% of Tamil Nadu’s population does not have money to buy milk every day, does this kind of wastage look good?’’ asked SA Ponnusamy, president of the Tamil Nadu Milk Dealers Employees Welfare Association.
The milk dealers want the superstar to ask his fans to organise blood donation and eye and organ donation camps at all theatres screening Kabali.
Spokespersons for the Rajinikanth Fans Association indicated the actor too is not in favour of such wastage of a precious commodity. In all likelihood, Rajinikanth who is in the United States now, will urge his fans over Twitter not to give his cut-outs a milk bath.
One of India’s most-loved filmstars, Rajinikanth commands legions of fans through numerous film clubs and fan associations across the state and the release of one of his films is often a state-wide carnival. Fans burst firecrackers, distribute sweets and pour milk on Rajinikanth’s cut-outs ranging between 50 and 100 feet in height before the release.
Tamil Nadu also has a history of idolizing film actors who have shrines dedicated to them in public as well as homes. One of the state’s most-prominent chief ministers, MG Ramachandran who ruled through the late ’70s and ’80s, was also the state’s biggest cinestar at the time.
Earlier this year in March, a suit was filed in a Bengaluru court against Rajinikanth and his fans for wasting milk during the release of his films. The petitioner, activist IMS Manivannan, urged the actor to stop the wastage.
“So many children can benefit from the milk which is wasted. There is so much poverty in our country. Rajinikanth should ask his fans not to waste the milk,’’ says Manivannan.
Taking a cue from Rajini fans, admirers of other actors too have started creating a ’Milky Way’ at cinema halls. Milk dealers claim during the release of popular actor Vijay’s film Theri in April, many fans stole milk from shops to indulge in bathing his cut-outs.
Many say that during the last two Rajinikanth releases -- Kochadaiiyaan and Lingaa in 2014 – no tea was available at any shop near theatres screening the movie as all the milk supply had been diverted to the cinema.
The release of Kabali has seen a frenzy of sorts, with just about every corporate out to milk ‘Brand Rajinikanth’. However, if the actor tells his fans to spare him the milk bath, they may just enjoy the movie without making others cry over spilt milk.