Filmstar Rajinikanth and Entrepreneurship : Real lessons from a Real Star
What makes the matinee idol Rajinikanth stand apart from many film actors? What is the reason for his glorious success in the unpredictable and highly competitive industry for about four decades? He is the only superstar for a long time. Perhaps only the megastar, Amitabh Bachchan could vie with him for the honour. His magnetic appeal and utmost humility has enamoured the film-hungry people. In these days when small fries talk big and indulge in showing-off after achieving success in a few films, the mercurial phenomenon, who has achieved roaring success with aplomb still considers himself as a learner. We at YourStory thought of analyzing the success of Rajinikanth and see what learnings Indian entrepreneurs and Startups can draw from him.
In a function held to honour the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi, sometime back in Chennai, Rajinikanth, affectionately called as Rajini here, in his own inimitable style remarked: “I am nobody in front of Kalaignar(Karunanidhi). He is an inborn genius and has excelled as an orator, story writer, dialogue writer, novelist and poet, apart from manning the destiny of the Tamil Nadu admirably, whereas I simply speak written dialogues here and there in movies and get away with it.”
For instance, when a journalist wanted him to prove his simplicity, Rajini, whose punch dialogues has mesmerized the connoisseurs of movies, without battling an eyelid opened his refrigerator, picked up a water bottle and remarked with a twinkle in his eye: “If I clap umpteen servants will come and hand over the bottle to me.But I will not prefer to do that. Do you need any other proof?” The scribe had no answer.
Similarly, the superstar (because of the integrity which he displays in all walks of his life) could say anything and get away with it. When he had difference of opinion with the AIADMK supremo and the former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Rajini without mincing words quipped: “Pombalagal rajyam”(women domination) the people here, especially the womenfolk did not mind his utterances and left the benefit of doubt to him, as they realized that his vehement criticism was directed towards Ms Jayalalithaa. Imagine, had any other lesser mortal uttered the similar statement, he would have been bombarded by the women’s forum and political parties then. Interestingly, a woman auto-driver even went to the extent of keeping his photographs and banners insider her vehicle, much to the chagrin and discomfiture of Ms Jayalalithaa, her party members and her followers. She did not bother to hear the threats issued by some party members to her.
When the AIADMK supremo accused him of amassing black money, Rajini, known for his penchant for witty retaliation, averred: “I never thought she(Jayalalithaa) would stoop so low.” Rajini, has always supported the poor, downtrodden and the toiling masses. He still remembers his old roots and success has not changed him a bit as a person. He says, “given a choice I would love to switch over to my old profession where I started my career as a humble conductor in a state transport corporation at Bangalore as a young Sivaji Rao". Rajini always believed in the adage: "there is no substitute for hard work and short-cut to success.”
In early 1980s Rajini was portraying roles as a notorious wrong-doer and the hero Jaishankar’s popularity was declining. No wonder a producer wanted to cast Rajini as a hero and Jaishankar as a villain in a film named ‘Kali’. Rajini immediately asked the concerned producer to find out the reactions of Jaishankar, as any hero would feel bad to project a negative role. Jaishankar lauded him for his gracious approach and said “in this cut-throat profession when everybody would like to snatch others projects, Rajini was magnanimous enough to know my views. Hats off to Rajini and I wish him all the very best in his future endeavour.”
The beauty with Rajini, says the renowned dialogue writer-cum- director K Balachander. “He knows his strengths and shortcomings. Once I asked him to use a particular dialogue. Unfortunately, he could not deliver the way I wanted, but I had an intuition then that his style, mannerisms and his hurried way of delivering dialogues will create a viable impact before the movie-goers. He has proved me right", says Balachander happily. The director is perhaps right, as even today, Rajini owes his success to Balachander and prostrates before him whenever he runs across the veteran director.
Rajini enjoys fan-following right from a five-year-old boy to a 90-year-old woman. In fact his female fans outnumber their male counter-parts. For the first time when Rajini was around, people felt that the villain was given more prominence than the hero and heroine. For instance, in‘Padinaru Vaidhinele’ (at the age of 16) Rajini, donning the role of a notorious rowdy‘Parrattai’ had earned more applause than the hero Kamal Hassan and the heroine Sridevi.Surprisingly, the middle class and upper echelon womenfolk flocked around to see his magnetic appeal more than the tormented heroine Sridevi in the suspense thriller ‘Gayatri’.
Film lovers were more impressed with his negative roles, especially the way he tosses around his cigarette with a punch dialogue “etha eva atthalukku pottakuda azhaga irukum” (even her mother will look beautiful in this dress). Likewise, his “non orudhathava chonna nurudhadava chonna madiri” (if I tell once it means I have addressed one hundred times) in ‘Badshah’ is unforgettable. Another dialogue in the same movie also lingers in the minds of people even today: “Andavan nallavangala sodanai seivan, ana kai vuda mattan, kettavangala sodanai seia mattan, ana kai vuttuduvan” (God will test good samarithans but will not leave them in the lurch, but he will not test the bad elements, but will ignore them.) In Arunachalam "Andavan Cholran, Arunachalam Seiaran"(Almighty orders and Arunachalam would implement) has created a telling impact. Likewise in Baba: “entha baba anba pesina adangi povan, adhikaram panna adakittu povan” (If you are affectionate towards Babu he will listen to you, but if you try to control him he will put you in your place). In Padayappa, “En vazhi thani vazhi, chendathe, nondhuduva” (my path is unique. Do not meddle in it. You will cut a sorry figure) is a common and famous dialogue, featuring at many residences here. Even in the recent release of ‘Endean’, Rajini has impressed in his double role, more with his wrong-doer Robot role than the goody-goody Scientist role by enthralling the audience with his usual punch dialogue.
Many tried to imitate him but failed miserably largely because of the complete originality which Rajini brought to the table. After all there can be only one Rajini. His intrinsic ability and uncanny anticipation while tossing around the cigarette with his unique style and mannerism has enamoured the film-goers, irrespective of caste, creed, community and religion. The supertstar always adopts a low profile. For example, M.G. Chakrapani, the actor and elder brother ofactor-politician M G Ramachandran was surprised to hear Rajini mentioning him as his favourite actor.
The best example can be cited for Rajini’s humility when he regretted that he could not invite all his followers and fans for the marriage of his second daughter held recently in the city, as the hall could not accommodate them. “I am thanking them individually for their assistance and hospitality,” Rajini concluded sentimentally.
We believe young entrepreneurs can learn alot from Rajini..from humility, hard work,gratitude, acknowledgement..collaboration, supportive growth to possessing an amazing amount of faith in oneself. The superstar with lofty ideals has set high goals for everyone.
Writeup for YourStory.in by Senior Journalist K V Venugopal