Perhaps it was a good thing that Lingaa panned out the way it did; despite millions of Superstar fans insinuating that their demi-god was in sparkling form as always and the film’s end result wasn’t his fault. The silver lining to the quasi-debacle: what started off as a mere hushed whisper years ago growing into a loud enough voice to reach Rajinikanth himself and pose the question — “Is it time to make a change?”
For notwithstanding the mega-success of his lavish Sivaji and Enthiran with director Shankar; it has been touted that Thalaivar move away from his over-the-top image (one that served his pop culture legacy over the years) to take up roles with more substance, during the latter stages of his remarkable career.
And perhaps Superstar has indeed been listening to fans, friends, inner voice, whatever may be, as the shock Kabali’s first look posters hit home. Seemingly a departure from his stereotype, the Pa. Ranjith flick chronicling the saga of an aging don and his empire, promises to showcase the veteran actor in a radical new light.
But will hardcore fans accept this? No signature punch dialogues or sending hundred henchmen flying or him playing a young action hero! In short, our entire idea of what constitutes a quintessential Rajini film might undergo a makeover. “Actually, he has played older characters earlier too in films like Darmathin Thalaivan, Annamalai and even Valli, to mention a few. But his charisma and star power was still intact. The age of the character as such is not a factor for him or fans like me — it won’t impact the success of the film. I hope the storyline is good,” says designer Satkrit Krishna.
There is also talk that Rajinikanth has put in effort to lose extra weight for the project — and that the make-up and swagger will be minimal — something that fans like content writer and social media manager Vaibhav Shastry approve of. He says, “His last couple of movies clearly showed that his biggest fans, who never want him to grow old thought he wasn’t convincing. Just like Amitabh Bachchan started playing roles appropriate to his age a decade and a half ago, it is time for Rajini to follow suit.”
In fact, the initial rushes of the film have even evoked comparisons with another legendary title, says model and actress Sakshi Agarwal – “It reminded me instantly of The Godfather! The film looks contemporary and stylish, while also being firmly grounded.” Most are happy that the true-blue actor side of the legendary star, which was investigated successfully by K. Balachander all those years ago, but stagnated as mega-stardom took over, will be explored again. “I have been a die-hard Thalaivar fan from my childhood — he is a man of effortless style, but more than that, he has a heart of gold! Superstar will unleash magic and fire on screen with his unbelievable aura in what is sure to be a visual treat,” remarks actress Iswarya Menon.
As homemaker and data analyst Niranjana Selvam puts it, we all think he’s made the right choice, in terms of the film and with the filmmaker also. “Especially with someone as new-age as Ranjith — that reflects in the first look itself. I absolutely loved it, and am looking forward to this spectacle.”