The Rajnikanth mania has gripped Sri Lanka too. His blockbuster Sivaji:The boss is on show 41 times a day in seven theatres across the island, with all shows running to full houses, Hindustan Times learns.
"People forget the war and queue up for tickets at the Monohara theatre. It's booked for a week now," said K Nathan, a resident of Jaffna, in north Sri Lanka. The film transports the viewer to a world of fantasy, a far cry from the grim reality of Jaffna where disappearances and killings carried out with impunity by unidentified warlords are the order of the day.
The film is running to full houses in Trincomalee in the East and also in the plantation areas in Central Sri Lanka, which is home to lakhs of Tamil labourers of Indian origin.
"It's house fill. No tickets for another week," said the manager of Midland cinema in Nawalapitya in Central Sri Lanka, when asked if tickets were available.
Colombo, of course, is seeing the biggest draw, because 40% of its population is Tamil-speaking, and it has four theatres showing the film four times a day, simultaneously. The Cine City multiplex in downtown Maradana has 20 shows a day.
"Except for the 10.30 am show on weekdays, all the other three shows are booked for the next two weeks," an official of Concorde theatre in south Colombo said.
Serpentine queues form outside the theatres hours before a show. "Disappointed fans who fail to get tickets extensively damage the cut outs and the police barricades. Police were sometimes compelled to baton charge the unruly fans," The Island daily said in a front page story with a picture on June 19.
The demand is so high that the Cine City management has raised ticket prices to LKR.250 and 300, reports Virakesari a Tamil daily with the largest circulation in the island.
"There is such an anxiety about getting a seat that crowds rush into the hall even before patrons of the previous show had filed out. All seats get refilled even before the end of a show!" the paper reports.
"I am eager to see the film, but it will be a month before I can hope to get a ticket," said Tamil film buff, Minna Ahmad.
"It can't get bigger than this - Rajnikanth, the superstar and style king, and Shankar the showman of Tamil cinema, are coming together for the first time in Sivaji. The good news is that this awesome combo is able to whip up an entertainment extravaganza that is deliciously good to savour," says Daily Mirror in its review.
"The comedy in the first half is rollicking. Go for it - its entertainment guaranteed," the reviewer urges.
But Rajni and his film have their detractors too. The Sri Lankan Tamil website www.tamilnatham.com has posted an appeal to Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils to boycott Sivaji on the grounds that Rajnikanth, a "Kannadiga" and a "Kannada fanatic", has been fooling the Tamils for many years.
While mesmerising the Tamil masses with his glamorous films, and earning crores in the process, he has consistently supported Karnataka in all its disputes with Tamil Nadu, the website charges.
If the Tamils of Tamil Nadu are turning a blind eye to the plight of the Tamils of Sri Lanka, it is because their attention has been diverted by people like Rajnikath, it says.
Sri Lankan Tamil ultras often say that the Tamil film industry will totter if the Sri Lankan Diaspora, angry with the industry for not projecting their grievances, boycott Tamil films. Much of the industry's earnings come from the overseas markets, they claim.