As Raghava Lawrence’s new film Motta Siva Ketta Siva opened at the theatres on March 9, viewers notice that the title ‘Makkal Superstar’ had appeared during the title credits, used for Raghava. Soon after, he was at the receiving end of Rajinikanth fans, so much so that on Thursday Raghava had to write an apology note stating that he didn’t deserve the title and that Rajinikanth is the one and only superstar.
A burning question that has always left fans of young actors in Tamil cinema bewildered is ‘Who is the next superstar?’ Over the past few years, actors, despite covertly wishing to be the ‘next superstar’, have passionately claimed that ‘Rajinikanth is the only superstar’. The prestigious title, which Kalaipuli S Thanu bestowed on Rajinikanth for the promotional posters of the 1978 Tamil film Bairavi, has many ‘star’ variants such as Ultimate Star Ajith Kumar, Little Superstar Silambarasan a.k.a Simbu, Young Superstar Dhanush and recently, Makkal Superstar Raghava Lawrence.
Here we list out four solid reasons why only Rajinikanth deserves the ‘superstar’ title in Tamil cinema and no one else, yet, has a right to dethrone him.
Globe-trotting, extensive fan base
Rajinikanth’s fan base is not just confined to India, or the countries which inhabit a sizeable Tamil diaspora. His Muthu was the first Tamil film to emerge as a true-blue success in the Japanese market when it was dubbed and released in Japan as Muthu Odoru Maharaja. The enormous, unexpected success of Muthu in Japan opened new avenues for Indian films in Japan, where people started forming fan clubs for Rajinikanth overnight. Later, subsequent films of Rajinikanth consistently managed to get a theatrical release in Japan and some of them even enjoyed considerable success at the box office. For Kabali, Yasada, an ardent fan of Rajinikanth from Japan air-dashed all the way to Chennai to experience the electrifying ambiance of watching a FDFS (First Day First Show) in Albert Theatre, considered as an epicentre to celebrate Rajinikanth’s films. No other contemporary actor can claim to have a substantial fan following in a country, where Tamil movies don’t see the light of day regularly.
Part of films across various languages, including a Hollywood movie
While making a debut in Hollywood is considered to be a coveted opportunity now, Rajinikanth made his entry through the American action-adventure English-language film ‘Bloodstone’ produced by Ashok Amritraj in the year 1988 itself. Apart from predominantly featuring in Tamil films, Rajinikanth has also acted in other regional languages like Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. He was even part of a Bengali film called Bhagya Debata where he made a special appearance. Again, no other leading actor with the exception of Kamal Haasan, can claim to have acted in as many languages as Rajinikanth did.
Awe-inspiring rags-to-riches story
Rajinikanth’s rags-to-riches story has always been awe-inspiring. From being a bus conductor in the Bangalore Transport Service to becoming the second highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan during the release of Shankar’s 2007 directorial Sivaji, the story of Rajinikanth is replete with significant markers that put Tamil cinema on the map of global filmdom. With heavyweights such as Kamal Haasan as his fierce competitor three decades back, Rajinikanth smartly worked his way up the ladder by carving a unique career path for himself and became the man of the masses with his charismatic choice of scripts, where he exuded inimitable swag and eventually went on to become the ‘Style Samrat’ of Indian cinema. The unparalleled opening in theatres for his last few outings stands testimony to his magnetic connect with the audiences, which no one can boast.
Esteemed state honours
Not only by his fans, Rajinikanth’s stardom and talent have been largely recognized by various governments, both at the centre and state, who have conferred upon him distinguished honours from time to time. Apart from being a recipient of Kalaimamani (1984), MGR Award (1989) and MGR-Sivaji Award (2011) from Tamil Nadu government, he was also honored by the Maharashtra Government with the Raj Kapoor Award in 2007. The government of India recognized Rajinikanth by conferring on him the second and third civilian awards - Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibushan - in the year 2000 and 2016 respectively. He was also awarded ‘Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year’ by the International Film Festival of India last year. Except for Kamal Haasan, is there any other contemporary Tamil actor who is as celebrated and acknowledged as superstar Rajinikanth beyond the state of Tamil Nadu?
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