This article is predominantly for Tamizh cinema lovers.
I'll be the first to humbly admit that I'm nowhere near as ardent a Rajini fan as Mrs. Laksmi, the 76 year old woman who watched Enthiran on the first day of release in Mumbai.
After reading the article in SLATE, I like the fact that the world is sitting up and taking notice.But I do get the impression that the writer is trying very hard to analyse a phenomenon without being swept away by it. I take offence to the careless description -"The second-highest-paid actor in Asia is a balding, middle-aged man with a paunch, hailing from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and sporting the kind of moustache that went out of style in 1986."
Balding? Man, he has balded, and flaunts it in real life, knowing the audience is intelligent enough to differentiate on-screen and off-screen persona. Read BARADWAJ RANGAN'S brilliant article on this.
Paunch - If I had to pick one well-preserved, fit looking (non iron pumping) actor in the Tamizh film industry among the many we have, it would be Rajini. What paunch? Was he thinking Rajini and looking at Alec Baldwin?
Moustache - Why 1986? What happened in that year that the moustache went out of style then? And where? In New York? In TN, it is very much in and the Vettaruva Meesai has also made a thumping comeback with Surya in Singam.
There's also a careless remark about Tamil cinema being the poorer cousin of Bollywood. I quote, "At 61 years old, Rajinikanth has made more than 150 movies in India, and he isn't even a proper Bollywood star. He works in the Tamil film industry, Bollywood's poorer Southern cousin, best-known for its ace cinematographers and gritty crime dramas." What is a proper Bollywood star? If it's the very 'Peetre' Hrithik Roshan in the rather tangled Kites, I rest my case.
The 'poorer Southern cousin of Bollywood' just made one of the most expensive movies in Indian cinema while Bollywood is recycling plots from old Tamizh and Malayalam movies and Hollywood bosses are making wusses out of their superheroes.
Grady Hendrix needs to stop trying to analyse and simply absorb what happens here. Come, live in Tamizh Nadu for a few years, watch every release on its first day, see our TV serials, learn Gaana, maybe even date Paravai Muniyamma (IF she consents. "Date-a? Kattaiyile Poravane! Naan Un Paatti Vayasu , da. Yennai yenna Cougar nenachittiya?).
Perhaps then, Grady will at least scratch the surface of trying to understand why the movie reels are taken to a temple first and then transported with due fanfare to the theatre, why cut-outs are anointed, why silver paper fragments fly from the front benches. And Grady will finally finally realise why 'with great power comes great responsibility' is dhrabai compared to 'naan oru dhadavai sonna nooru dhadavai sonna madhiri'.
Idhu eppadi irukku?
Pics from the official website of Endhiran.