I’m part of the girl gang that joined in the revelry with equal gusto.
A faint thrum of drum beats emanates from a distance and I can taste the smoky scent of fireworks on my tongue. It is still dark and street lights illuminate lonely roads at half past five in the morning. Riddled with anticipation, by the time I reach the source of these aberrant conditions, which is Matunga’s Aurora Talkies, my face has already widened into a 100-watt-smile.
I walk into a maddening crowd of what must be more than 700 people, tickets in hand, waiting for the first day first 6am show of Rajinikanth’s latest mob film Kabali, at the heart of Mumbai’s mini-Madras.
Journalist couldn't resist joining the party
Amidst throngs of people arrayed in the form of a magnetic field, there were dhol players pounding their instruments to a pulp (it might seem) and people gyrating not sleazily but almost seizure-ously. It might seem a little intimidating for some, but for me and my metal background, this was one of my favourite things about Mumbai. The dhol bands are an acquired taste and I am yet to meet anyone who hasn’t fallen for their infectious charms. A sizeable number of women have shown up for the early morning show. I’m completely blown away as I see them just let go and join the men with complete abandon.
The giant Rajinikanth cut-out
“This is a fan show”, the fans warned me. If you wanted to actually WATCH a film, this was not the show to go to. “Sirf video dekhne ko milega, dialogue sunne ko nahi hoga”, they tell me with a wicked smile. I was there for exactly that kind of chaos. Strings of fans pour in from all mouths of the hall, dancing like they were following an imaginary pied piper. The energy inside the cinema hall was even more intense. Emotions were loose and all antics were anticipated and forgiven. There were people on chairs, on the stage and there were ganji-waving men.
Fan with Rajinikanth's face tattooed on his arm
From the balcony where I was seated, the swarm below merged and submerged like one breathing organism. At some point I couldn’t see the seats. Multi-coloured laser lights danced off the crowd into the ceiling. For a few minutes, it was easy to mistake the scene for an underground rave. The dank interiors of the theatre and it dull blue walls only adding to the charm. Badass women armed with whistles were matching up to the predominantly male crowd.
As the lights went out, the deafening cheers were reduced to irregular surges. As soon as the movie started, the entire body of moviegoers turned into a weird kind of orchestra, with collective silences between cheering peppered with whistles and all. The fans at this show could single-handedly destroy some of the biggest metal gigs in the country.
A story of the rise, betrayal and fall of a gangster and then his revenge. But Rajini casts it in his own brand of acting. The man is the physical embodiment of swag. Sure the action scenes are a bit too excessive and so is the acting and the scenarios, but it is definitely my most exciting theatre experience yet. The only part I regret missing out on were Rajinikanth’s epic dialogue.
There is a reason we have a plane flying people to watch his movie in Chennai with his face on it and that a number of companies in the south declared an official holiday last Friday. It is because his fans don’t really have a ceiling. I realized they treat their devotion to him the same way he treats his movies, there is no restraint involved. He is the living god for people down south across classes and genders.
These Dharavi boys in Rajinikanth t-shirts played harbingers of mayhem
“Because he spends most of his earnings on people who need it, without publicizing it”, says the cinema’s canteen manager. As simple as that. Other than the wasteful milk-bath, which was avoided on a larger scale. Rajinikanth fans are known to set up blood donation camps and free eye checkup camps at all of his movie releases including this one. I recently learned that the film crew was predominantly Dalit including director Pa Ranjith. To me he seems to imbibe qualities of humility and social responsibility which are a rare find in individuals of influence.
The first day first show of a Rajinikant film is not just a screening, it is an EVENT
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Karishma Goenka