Its a well-known fact that a Rajinikanth film does not have any competition. Any film that tries to compete with a new Rajini film will face extinction from the market & incur huge losses. Many Tamil & other South Indian actors & producers can vouch for it as some of their films tried to clash with a new Rajini movie on its release & were literally thrown out of the market by the masses. During Sivaji's release in June, 2007, one person who didn't know the reality or, having known, but cared less, got a lesson of his life. It was Yash Chopra, the big Bollywood producer, who had the gall to release his multi-starcast Jhoom Barabar Jhoom with Big B, Small B and other A to Z in its cast. In spite of warnings from Theatre owners & distributors in South India, Yash Raj Films went ahead & released JBJ on the same day as Sivaji. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.
JBJ - No competition
JBJ's collection could not even match the collections made at all the parking stands of the theatres which screened Sivaji. Sivaji & Rajini made such a huge impact that JBJ could not even compete with the Tamil movie with no sub-titles even in its own territories like Mumbai/Maharashtra, Delhi/NCR, Kolkatta & other north Indian centres.
Rajini - THE Superstar
Sivaji has established Rajinikanth as THE Superstar in Indian Cinema. Even from the day its Advance Booking started on June 10th, all TV channells showcased the massive crowds thronging the theatres for booking tickets in advance for viewing Sivaji. The crowds comprised of all demographies - from elderly to youth, both male & female, from street hawker to corporate executive, whether in Chennai or Hyderabad or Bangalore or Kerala, no one wanted to miss the fun of watching a Rajini movie in theatre. People stood in long winding queues from mid-night the previous day. Many people went for the previos day's night show of a movie in the theatre which was going to screen Sivaji & came out during its interval time & stood in the queue for advance booking for Sivaji which was supposed to open next day morning at 9 am. Many corporates managed bulk-booking for their employees. Many theatre complexes were running Sivaji all shows in all screens continuosly for weeks.
Sivaji didn't disappoint most of these people & most of them have seen Sivaji several times. Thus, Sivaji went on to create many box office records & one of them being the first Tamil movie to be listed in the UK Top 10 list. Sivaji's huge success also created new markets for Tamil movies & paved the way for other Tamil movies to be marketed at a global level.
Who is Rajni's competitor?
Does it mean that there is nobody to compete with Rajinikanth in terms of popularity & mass appeal? Yes. That seems to be the answer at least as far as India or Bollywood is concerned. No other actor, including Big B or Shah Rukh Khan can imagine such a passionate crowd who can stand during night & day in a queue just to get the movie ticket which they will only be allowed to see 5 days or later. A phenomenal achievement by Rajini in this day of pirated CDs.
Having said this, I find there is ONE COMPETITOR who gives Rajinikanth a run for his money. As I mentioned above, the competition is not from Bollywood. Then, who or where is it from? Is it Jackie Chan? No. Or is it from Hollywood? Could have been, but the recent Hollywood cult film of Indiana Jones series starring Harrisson Ford & directed by Steven Spielberg could not create enough ripples to even pose any questions about passionate competition to Rajini.
So, who, then is the competitor & where is it coming from? Though the passionate competition to Rajini is not from Hollywood, it is coming from America alright. Surprised? Don't be. I find the same zeal & passion with which the fans of the competitor are also gunning for their "pick".
They don't mind waiting for hours, or even days, on the streets - rain or shine.
They show-off their "prized possession" once they are able to lay their hands on to it with such pride & passion that only a Rajini fan can understand it. Its something similar to laying your hands on a FDFS ticket of a Rajini movie.
Like everybody who gets associated with the business of a Rajini movie comes out with enhanced market for them after the movie's release - whether it be an artist or a technician or the prodcuer/financiers/distributors/exhibitors - same is the case with the producers & their business associates of the competition too.
Like a Rajini movie in the making creates enormous amount of expectations without the producers doing any promotion, same is the case with the competition too. Even without its producers not making any official announcement, rumours floating around the net as also the market buzz in newspapers & channells make sure that there is huge expectation & buzz around the release time of the competition too.
The Worthy competitor is......
I think I have tested enough of your patience & its high time I say, WHO IS COMPETING WITH RAJINI in popularity & passionate fan following. If you have already not guessed it correctly, its APPLE's iPHONE (before & during its launch in June, 2007) & its expected successor iPHONE 2.0, which is expected to be released in Apple's WWDC beginning on June 9, 2008.
Passionate Fans of Icons
If the kind of hype & hoopla & success witnessed by iPhone was any indication, I find both Apple followers & Rajini fans sail on the same boat - in terms of loyalty & devotion to their respective ICONS. I have not heard or known about anybody waiting overnight on the streets in front of stores to be opened next day to get hold of a techinical gadget like iPhone on the first day of its launch. This happened in the case of iPhone in many cities across the USA in front of many Apple Stores as well as other reputed tech gadget retailers. I have seen many people proudly showing off their iPhones before cameras - something similar to what many proud & frenzied Rajini fans showed-off to TV cameras with Boss' FDFS ticket before Sivaji release. In both cases, the fans were from both sexes & of different age groups - from young techies to older people.
I am witnessing the similar kind of passionate guessing game & rumours playing now with the Apple WWDC 2008 about to begin on June 9th. So many magazines of the tech variety as also the business ones keep on speculating about what Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, is going to announce in his keynote, on iPhone 2.0. Even though nothing has been confirmed officially till now, 3G capability and GPS are rumoured to be a given in iPhone 2.0. The rumours on iPhone 2.0 have been coming for so long that some analysts have even started predicting that if Jobs doesn't announce these featues in iPhone 2.0 in his keynote, Apple's stock is going to get a hammering on June 9th morning.
I find it similar that this kind of speculation happened with Sivaji too with each magazine gossipping about Sivaji story & finally it turned out to be that none of them were correct. But, Sivaji still went on to create box-office history & expanded the market for Tamil & other South Indian language films the world-over. I am hoping Rajini's competitor too would be doing similarly & create huge markets for itself in newer territories like India & China from this year.