The notion of Rajinikanth’s superstardom was under threat when two of his successive flicks, Kochadaiyaan and Lingaa flopped at the box-office. Now at the age of 65, Rajinikanth has bounced back — and how! The gangster film Kabali, directed by Pa Ranjith and produced by Kalaipuli Thanu, has toppled multiple box office records in India and overseas. With this, the actor has returned as the undisputed king of the box office in India!
Just like the catch-word Neruppuda (fire), which is used to describe Rajinikanth in the film, Kabali has set the box office on fire. The movie reportedly collected over Rs 200 crore worldwide on its opening weekend. In the overseas market alone, which comprises USA, UK, France, Singapore, and Malaysia, Kabali has raked in more than Rs 250 crore according to a trade source. The film might touch a number as high as Rs 600 crore in the coming weeks, a source reveals.
Thanu will reportedly be unable to calculate actual collections in the state, due to the mismatch between listed ticket price and actual sale price. While being listed at `120, tickets went for a high of `1600 on the first three days. When we contacted Thanu, who is basking in the success of the movie, said, “My happiness is boundless. The film has ascended a peak as tall as Mount Everest. Its seven days collection in the city alone was Rs 7 crore, and my share was `4 crore which is a record over the last 100 years of Tamil cinema.”
Soundarya Rajinikanth, who was instrumental in getting the project approved by her father, discusses the success of the film.
Was there some anxiety in the family about Kabali’s success, considering Rajini’s last two films hadn’t done well?
First of all, thank you, and thanks to all the wonderful people whose best wishes made Kabali a success. No, there wasn’t any anxiety. Dad was very confident about the film and the team that handled it. But still the response to the film has taken him by surprise. Also, dad is not the kind to mope around. After he completes a film he moves on, even if it is a hit. He is always wondering what to do next.
What do you think made the film a standout success, in comparison to the last two films?
Every film is a different experience. Not only appa, but every person involved give all they have; some films work, while some don’t for various reasons. Kabali’s success is indeed something we are all very thrilled about.
Director Ranjith told us that you were instrumental in getting this project instead of the other storyline option, approved by your dad. How does it feel to have your judgement validated?
Extremely happy! Ranjith gave me two story lines, one superhero film, and the other about a Malaysian don — the latter just felt right. When I told my father the one-liner, he reacted positively and that’s how it all started. Seeing appa in Ranjith’s venture, playing the role of a don was something that excited me instantly.
What is your opinion about Rajinikanth’s subtle but sudden image change in Kabali?
The changes that you’re talking about came with the role. He was a little apprehensive about the part because he had to play someone close to his age. Also, there was a message about the downtrodden. Appa also had concerns about the lack of comedy in the script. But by God’s grace, it’s all turned out really well.
There are questions about Rajinikanth’s health. Can you please clarify?
I’d like to say once and for all that my dad’s health is fine. He was shooting two back-to-back films — Kabali and Robot 2. The latter is a sci-fi film with lots of costumes and action scenes, and Kabali required a lot of night shooting. The physical strain was getting to be too much for him, so we whisked him away for a holiday. That is why he wasn’t here for the release of the film. Dad has also cut down on action scenes. The family is making sure he doesn’t strain himself.
How does your dad remain so down-to-earth?
He has never forgotten where he came from. As his children, my sister Aishwarya and I learnt this from him — to never forget our roots. With our dad, what you see is what he is. We, his children, try to emulate that trait.
Is your son a fan of his grandfather?
Right now he’s too young to know who his grandfather is. My son Ved is just one!