‘Lingaa’: The King returns

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Ecstatic fans of superstar Rajinikanth pour milk over his cut-out to mark the release of his latest movie
Ecstatic fans of superstar Rajinikanth pour milk over his cut-out to mark the release of his latest movie “Lingaa” that also coincides with his 64th birthday, at Arora theatre in Mumbai. Photo: Vivek Bendre

Fans set the box office on fire around the world, not just Mumbai.

Apparently, Superstar Rajinikant wanted to release ‘Lingaa’ on Diwali. So fans pushed their Diwali to the release date, also his 64th birthday, and set the box office on fire around the world, not just Mumbai.

After a sleepless night following overwhelmingly positive Twitter buzz and reports from the late night shows around the world, many headed towards the single screen Aurora cinema in Matunga, headquarters for Rajinikanth fans for fireworks, nadaswaram accompanied festivities and larger than life cutouts of their “thalaivar.”

Late night reports from Rentrak, Hollywood’s tracking agency, revealed that director K.S. Ravikumar’s Lingaa had beaten popular franchise Hunger Games 2 at the US box office by grossing $206850 from just 91 screens compared to the $190000 the Jennifer Lawrence film collected from 1583 screens.

Encouraged by this opening, this reporter made his way to Fun Cinemas in Chembur which was the first among the 70 screens in Mumbai to open its ticket counters in advance for Lingaa to find a full house screaming their lungs out as the words ‘Super Star’ appeared on screen.

The screams continued all through the introduction shot – boots stepping out of a stretch limo, followed by the trademark swagger in slow-mo as Superstar burst into a jig for S.P.Balasubramaniam rendered-A.R. Rahman composed ‘Oh Nanba.’

Unlike Chennai where the audience drowns the punch dialogues with applause and screams, the multiplex audience in Mumbai saved up their energy for the action scenes and were quickly sucked into the social period drama about a King who resigns his job as a Collector under the British rule to build a dam on his own to save the flood and famine-hit villages in his province.

Punchlines

The template Rajinikanth film had all the familiar tropes – a present day narrative in contrast to a glorious past, a betrayal, personal loss and redemption played by familiar faces and lots of punchlines that once again teased the crowd about his political ambitions.

But the most politically loaded line came when he picks up the megaphone and announces to his caste and religion-divided striking workers to not come to work if they believed in their caste or religious identity.

Only Indian blood

“I don’t want people of this caste or that religion to come to work. Only those who have Indian blood flowing in their veins and believe they are Indians first may return to work,” he declares his brand of “gharwapsi” and had the audience applaud instantly.

The Superstar was reuniting with his old friend K.S. Ravikumar after a gap of 15 years and returning to do live action after four years, after being hospitalised in a critical condition for months in 2011.

It was largely feared that he may never act again. But going by the veteran superstar’s agility on screen and the response off screen, there’s nothing to stop him from beating his own box office records.

The king is back on his throne.

http://www.thehindu.com/

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