Rajinikanth: More than moondru mugam
On the eve of his birthday, we take a look at the unexplored facets of Superstar's cinematic journey
With Superstar Rajinikanth’s 67th birthday coming up tomorrow, we talk about a rather underrated aspect of him: his forays into the other departments of cinema.
Rajinikanth’s first taste in film production came with Maaveeran, 1986's Deepavali release. The film was directed by Rajasekhar who had consistently given hits with both Rajini (Thambikka Entha Ooru, Padikaadavan) and Kamal (Kaaki Sattai, Vikram). Maaveeran also bears the distinctionof being the first 70MM film to be released in Tamil cinema and reportedly for the first time, its composer, Ilayaraja had composed a six-track stereophonic sound for the film. Remade from the Hindi superhit, Mard, the film was supposed to continue on the long list of Rajini's remake hits but unfortunately, it lost the battle against the other releases: Punnagai Mannan (Kamal Haasan/K Balachander combo) and Paalaivana Rojakkal (Sathyaraj and Prabhu's film written by Kalaignar Karunanidhi). Rajini’s next production ventures, Valli and Baba, also failed to set the box office on fire. But you can’t fault the man for trying.
If you’ve heard his speeches — and the stories he usually narrates in them — it would have come as no surprise when he decided to embrace the writer in him for Valli. While films back then propagated the notion that the victim should be married to the rapist as justice, Rajinikanth wrote a film where the girl, the victim, kills the boy who destroyed her life. While he didn't want to act in the film, he eventually ended up acting as Veeraiyan, a character whose wife commits suicide after getting raped. Laced with political dialogues, the film was produced under Rajinikanth's Rajini Arts Banner and it was Superstar's first story, screenplay and dialogue credit too. A decade later, the Suresh Krishna-directed 2002 film, Baba, also fetched Rajinikanth story and screenplay credits. Reportedly, Tamil writer S Ramakrishnan helped him with the dialogues. According to the book, Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography, the actor supposedly has written at length about his learnings during the tough times following the release of Baba. He’s however decided not to release it, worried that it may end up hurting people.
The actor debuted as a playback singer in P Vasu directorial Mannan with the song Adikkuthu Kuliru along with S Janaki. Twenty two years later, the actor again put himself behind the microphone for the song, Maattram Ondrudhaan Maaraadhadhu, in Kochadaiyaan. The film, directed by Soundarya Rajinikanth, also featured his wife Latha Rajinikanth signing Manapennin Sathiyam, making the project a unique family collaboration not often seen in cinema.
A catalyst of change
He is among the few actors to have been a part of different eras of filmmaking. He has embraced and transitioned from black and white (Aboorva Ragangal) to colour (Kabali), to motion capture (Kochadaiyaan) and now, 3D (2.0). He has also been a part of Cinema Veeran, a documentary by Aishwarya Rajinikanth in which he is the narrator.