No wonder they are the icons of South Cinema. They were stars in the age of bell bottoms, made a mark in the Tamil film industry in the seventies and eighties, dominated the field in the nineties and still continue to rock. What makes this possible for ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth and ‘Ulaganayagan’ Kamal Haasan? It is a host of factors, say industry experts.
Those in the industry observe that Rajinikanth and Kamal symbolise two very interesting identities in our culture.
Rajini’s humbleness and good heart had made him great while “Kamal Hassan” is genuinely pursuing cinema as a stream of study and brings out new things to the Indian Cinema.
Rajini, has the image of being ‘one among us’. Fans tend to associate his looks and complexion with a Dravidian identity. His hairstyle, walk, physique and attire have never been those conventionally valued.
Kamal on the other hand is an all-rounder who is constantly reinventing himself. His films are, in some ways, expected to fulfil some intellectual requirements of fans.
With Kamal’s Manmadhan Ambu releasing soon, social networking sites have groups of young fans discussing and speculating. Similarly, on the day Enthiran hit the cinemas, schoolchildren could be seen eagerly waiting at the theatres. Many in their early twenties had missed college or work to catch the film. This grandfather of two is no bicep-wielding hunk, yet in his veshti-clad avatar manages to make even women, who have crossed the half century mark, whistle with vigour.
Teenaged twin brothers Ajay and Vijay could hardly wait for their 11 a.m. show at Kasi theatre. Biting his nails, Ajay declared himself an ardent fan and quickly listed his favourite films of Rajinikanth. “Both of them are staunch Rajini fans — just like I want them to be,” said their father P. Rajasekar, with evident pride about the second-generation fans in the family.
The actors have been evolving their styles according to fans’ tastes.
“My son and I love Rajini, but for very different reasons. I admire his style, they like him playing the villain. When Rajini says “cool”, it is something,” says a middle-aged father.
Industry experts highlight the degree of involvement of the two actors is something younger actors should strive for.
“They did not believe in superficiality. Kamal, for instance, is forever thirsty for more knowledge on cinema. Rajinikanth puts in tremendous amounts of hard work even today”
“Both Kamal and Rajini are assets to Tamil Film Industry. I still remember in the early 80s, that we used to get up and end the day talking about them. They’ve become part and parcel of our lives.”, quoted by a bank manager.
The kind of bond and friendship between and Super Star Rajinikanth and ‘Ulaganayagan’ Kamal Hassan, seems to be a lesson for today’s generation.
Some time back, when Kamal’s half century in the filmdom was being commemorated, Super Star Rajinikanth had mentioned that Kalai Thai (Goddess of Arts) is partial to Kamal alone because she carries him in her arms while she leaves the rest like him, Amitabh, Vishnu Vardhan, Chiranjeevi and Mohanlal to follow her, holding her hands. His adulation of his friend and contemporary artist did not stop with mere words.
Known for his benevolent deeds and words, Rajini has transformed his thoughts into a beautiful art form and had presented the same to Kamal. Needless to say, Kamal Haasan was deeply touched by his friend’s gesture. In a choked voice, full of emotion, Kamal states that the art piece will adorn the walls of his office from henceforth along with the pictures of Sivaji Ganesan and Nagesh as a standing testimony to their friendship.
The actors put in a lot of effort to make their films relevant to today’s audience.The two actors, along with their directors, are putting in extra effort to include a lot of contemporary elements in their films.
“The actors ensure that a certain kind of money is spent to make their films look and sound nice. They are technically very superior. Manmadhan Ambu for instance, is one of the first Tamil films to come out with live sound recording. It is meticulous work.”
Rajni and Kamal had earlier filled the vacuum created by MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. There will certainly be a space left vacant after Rajni and Kamal. A phenomenon like Rajni or Kamal are unlikely to happen soon, but young actors may work hard to fill the vacuum as they have age on their side.