Painting the town black: The first day first show experience of Kaala
The author is an ardent fan of Rajinikanth, who hasn't missed the FDFS of any Superstar film in the past fourteen years
There are films that get released on a festival, and then, there are films whose release gets celebrated as a festival. Having booked a 4AM show at Remy Theatre in Avadi — a theatre I’d never been to before — I left home at 3:15, and followed instructions on the map diligently. I made it well before time, and as I entered Remy Theatre, I noticed it looked less like a theatre and more like small apartment complex. The dark clouds I encountered along the way found company in almost every single member of the audience, who were all dressed in black. While some wore the Kaala tees many online apparel stores seem to have cashed in on, the more serious fans wore pitch-black shirts and veshtis, replicating the Superstar look from the film’s trailer.
Huge banners adorned the perimeter of the theatre, and where there was a wall, there were posters of the film. The hoardings surrounding the theatre also bore the images of anonymous fans of his, members of his fan clubs around the city. Those who had trouble finding their way simply had to follow the never-ending stream of bikes pouring into this theatre which had become so special, just for the day.
As we stood waiting for the doors to open, many began clicking selfies, so they could Instagram with the hashtag, #KaalaFDFS. It isn’t just about watching the film; it’s also about the bragging rights that come with it. Some customary firecrackers kickstarted festivities. A section of the fans organised a Thappattam performance that played along to Kaala songs. Conspicuous by their absence though were the milk and beer abhishegams.
The theatre finally opened, but before the film could be played, we had to sit through a long list of ad slides. Big day for Remy, clearly. The audience began booing each ad slide, in anticipation of the Kaala censor certificate. When it did eventually come, it’s safe to say the crowd went berserk. The cheering died down until the iconic Superstar Rajni credit rolled. Curiously though, there was no legendary Annamalai theme accompanying it. It is to be noted that it was Pa Ranjith who brought back this old style of credit in Kabali, after a period when Shankar’s credit dominated. During the Rajini introduction scene, I don’t believe I saw much, thanks to the people standing in front and dancing. I doubt many of them cared what happened in the film anyway. When it’s a 4AM show of a new Rajinikanth film, you come to the theatre to party, not to watch a film. It was a great party. The film? I’ll have to watch it once again to say.