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Rajinikanth is the most popular living human being in Tamil Nadu. With a zillion fans who have worshipped him thru the years, he possesses the biggest bully pulpit in the state. The people of the state have showered their love on him for nearly three decades. The people of Tamil Nadu have embraced his movies and performances virtually every time, to make him the safest investment in the industry. The media have stopped covering him as a human being capable of flaws and moved on to the worshipping stage for nearly 15 years now. Like several demigods of the common man he is known just by his one word title ‘Superstar’. If any one should be stepping in front and center for Kamal Hassan and the gross censorship of freedom of expression and creativity in this time of his need, it should be Rajinikanth. So far he has uttered statements that read as a pathetic plea to the protesting Muslims. Instead of defending free speech and expression and fighting for his industry and peer, he has tried to placate the rabid mobs that are seeking a pound of Kamal Hassan’s flesh.

The religious sentiments of a vocal Muslim minority and their place in the political puzzle are being used to muzzle one of Rajinikanth’s greatest peers. This isn’t enough to make his blood boil? Is this not the sort of situation where he can use his influence and vast accumulation of street-cred? If he went on cable channels tomorrow and asked the government and those who have protested to do the right thing, does that not have a profound impact on the story? Does he not influence the way the story is covered? Does he not make those who havent established themselves in the industry yet feel good about their choice of profession? If he requested a meeting with the Chief Minister and used all of his powers of persuasion to remind her of the industry she came from, would that not affect even the most political decision at its core? Does he not owe this simple defense and disobedience to the industry and creative form that gave him so much?

(Also we have the small fact that if he uttered some thing once, we know it is like he really said it a 100 times…)


Rajinikanth in his various roles has ridiculed Brahmin practices (in Dalapathi), endorsed polygamy (in Veera) and even articulated a vastly different role for women in society (Padayappa) than the roles his wife and daughter have taken. Each of these roles could someday be the butt of similar censorship as ‘Vishwaroopam’ is today. Rajinikanth had a chance and based on today’s events still has a chance to stand up for the industry and creative expression. I hope he does. I truly truly hope he does and that I get to delete this post in a day and apologize. Standing up for free speech in a big and bold way is the right thing to do. Otherwise Rajinikanth may as well be known not as a Superstar or a reluctant Superstar but as the Irrelevant Superstar.

5 Responses to “The irrelevance of Rajinikanth”

  1. catchharish

    I am not sure, how this is anyway connected to Rajini….Its comeuppance for Kamal….he has pandered to Muslims from day one and abused Hinduism and Hindus in every way shape and form in his films and otherwise.. Freedom of expression is always selectively applied in India….of course Indian government has no cojones to implement laws that affect the ‘minority’ or impinge on its version of secularism.. Having said this..I am completely appalled at whats happening to Vishwaroopam and I want to see it released unedited.. I believe there is more to all of this than meets the eye … Not to mention the hardening of Muslim stance in Tamil Nadu is very very worrisome.. remember the hungama in the Chennai US consulate over some random stuff in Libya..Indian govt is losing grip over its citizens….and Vishwaroopam is a symptom of this

    • shyamuw

      @harish I think everything you say here is correct. It is not incongruent from my point that the industry’s biggest star refuses to defend the art. If he is cowed down like this what chance do the rest of us have?

  2. hima

    why take it out on rajini? Did Kamal come to rajini’s rescue for baba or kuselan?

    The times have changed. A movie star stopping the whole state by his statement will never again happen in our country. 1996 was it, and also the situation then was heavily anti-admk. remember 2004, when rajini supported bjp, what happened?

    The country today is controlled by politicians, big business, foreign funded conflict mongering media, fringe religious/casteist/linguistic groups. The rest of us have long abdicated our rights to them.

    Read below my post on FB reg. this issue

    1) Kamal should not have screened his movie to these fringe elements.

    2) The decision to ban the movie by the TN Govt. was a result of the above as the groups went straight to the home secretary and complained. Now, they had a case and the situation had to be looked at in the Law & Order perspective.

    3) People complaining about the movie ban & talking about free speech, where were you when Kutra Pathirikkai or Dam 999 or Katrukenna Veli were banned? I’m not supporting these movies or their makers, but why no noise about free speech by you?

    4) I’ve heard some people talk about Rajini in this issue. All he did was to request the opponents of the movie to work it out with Kamal, which is what he has done now.He said what is sensible in the current situation, which is to compromise and get the movie released. During Baba/Kuselan, all Rajini looked at was the loss to the people due to his films and he is looking at the same in this issue.

    5) As for Kamal, he has been burnt by his own indulgence. In Dasavatharam, there is a scene, where the character played by Nagesh says, “Allah than kaapathunaaru”, the very next scene has the character played by Asin say “Perumal than kaapathunaaru”, and Kamal’s character contradicts that statement. He might be an avowed atheist, but that doesn’t give him the right to insult/abuse only Hindu sensibilities/beliefs. Now, he has tried that with muslims and has ended up in this situation. I’m not condoning the opposition to this movie by the so called muslim reps, but, What you sow is what you reap. This is a lesson for all “Seculars” who are pandering to these fringe elements across communities and ignoring the silent majority in all religions/castes who just want a peaceful life.

    6) Saying TN is not secular and he will leave the state is just a childish stunt and nothing less.

    • shyamuw

      @hima Very well written post Kiran. You have a lot of knowledge and experience on this situation and I agree with all of what you’ve said except (4). I don’t think what he did was the sensible thing to do.

      My criticism of Rajini is that his defense of his peer was really weak and his defense of the art and profession that earned him his billions was even worse.

      It is one thing to plead with the Muslim factions demanding the ban. It is another thing altogether to stand up tall and proud for the industry and free speech against tyrannical governments and minor religious factions. That is what he should be doing at this point in time. And I could have picked A R Rahman, Satyaraj or any of many personalities in this issue. I picked on Rajini ‘cos no one is bigger and this is a moment where he could have set aside past incidents and politics and focused on the industry that made him who he is.