It’s only a movie for Christ’s sake

Is there anybody in this city who hasn’t heard of Sivaji? The hype about the Rajnikanth starrer both in the media and off it has been overwhelming these last few weeks. I found it irritating at least towards the last few days when you could hear nothing else on TV.
I occasionally write movie review for the newspaper that I work for and am passionate about film. But the hype had even a person like me say: “It’s just a movie for Christ’s sake.”
I was glad to miss the movie, which I don’t intend to watch anytime soon. It’s hard to get the tickets anyways.

What did you make out of the hype? In case you missed it all, let me give you a few indicators. In a couple of cities down south, shows began as early as 3.00 am. Have you ever seen a movie so early? In some parts of the city, the tickets were sold in black as high as Rs 700. Those are figures quoted by the police. There are Rajni fans who paid more. GVB writes here that when he left Devi theatre after watching the late night show, he found queues outside.
I asked myself a few questions. Am I a Rajni fan? Do I continue to be a Rajni fan even after this madness? Am I a fan of good Tamil cinema too? Like Vinod says here, is this a moment to be proud?
There is at least one reason why madness for Rajni movie is at its zenith. Apart from the commercially successful combination behind the film, the public adoration of the actor is also quite high. Rajni, perhaps, is India’s only untainted superstar. Whether his involvement with religion helped him steer clear of controversy, is anybody’s guess. His image off screen is so huge that his on screen the actor has to only stick to the time tested formulae to be successful.
Some people think this madness is peculiar to Tamil Nadu and particularly Chennai, the Mecca of moviemaking in South India. In this cinema crazy state that elected chief minister after chief minister used cinema as their ticket to politics, people say it’s normal that such things happen.
That, however, is not true. It even occurred to me that during the madness of the Star Wars and Jaws in the US in the late 1970s, people landed up at theatres in all night mile-long queues to buy tickets. We are again going to see such madness when the last of the Harry Potter books hit the market.
But despite all this, the question has to be asked. So is all of this normal? Do Shanker, A.R. Rehman, Sujatha and the rest of the team that made Sivaji deserve this unbridled public adulation?
Going by figures floating in the media, Sivaji is an astonishing hit. The box office figures over the last week since June 15, when the movie hit the theatres, indicate that the enthusiasm for the movie has not waned.
On the other end of the spectrum is the snobbery of the elite cine squad. This clannish group watches world cinema and fervently hopes that the next Kamal Hassan or Mani Rathnam movie puts us on par with the best seen at film festivals like Cannes. They don’t even consider Rajni an actor and are seemingly insular to the man’s charm and box office pulling power.
Amid all this hype, it’s hard to hear the voice of sanity. But it’s resoundingly and heartening there. Many people, among them journalists, have said that the hype went beyond all reasonable limits. Even those who aired news of Sivaji and the myriad stories surrounding it like the actor’s make up, hairstyle and other trivia, privately confess that they did for the bread and butter. The excuse it seems is that people watch the news about Sivaji, much like they flock to the threatres to see the real thing itself.
There’s a tendency in this attitude to look at people like cattle. This is despicable. In relegating more important things to the back burner, the media isn’t performing with a conscience. The media business can’t be all the time about making money. There was a way that newspapers and channels could have shown some maturity and restraint, but sadly they didn’t.
But it would be wrong to place all the blame squarely on the media.
As I said earlier, I haven’t see the movie, but I have no doubt in my mind that Sivaji despite all the box office records it might break, doesn’t deserve this much public adoration. I have nothing against Rajnikanth. An actor of his talents has a space in Tamil cinema. I fervently wish he had asked those in charge of putting the spin on the movie to show some restrain. The media may have taken the hint if the publicity wheels had spun a little slower.
It’s only a movie for Christ’s sake.

10 Comments so far

  1. Rajesh (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2007 @ 5:34 am

    I understand what you are saying. At the same time there is no maturity for the Indian Media. They are being run by rowdies(aka politician), gundaas, & police. We cannot expect maturity from these people. All they care about is money. They all do this only for money. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. Everybody likes Rajini only for the money. It is SAD but TRUE

  2. neoflys (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

    thanks for sharing your point of view but honestly you BORE!!!

  3. Parthasarathy (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2007 @ 5:16 pm

    Indian films are full of anti muslim bias and anti muslim stereo-typing.

    This is unfortunate because muslims are already being tarnished by the right wing media and by the right wing political parties for political purposes.

    Hitlers Nazism was set in religious fanaticism and religious stereo-typing of the Jews.
    Films should bring out the truth : which is that muslims are worse of than STs, and face discrimination socio-econmically.

  4. Karuthu Kandasamy (unregistered) on June 24th, 2007 @ 1:24 am

    You are barking at the wrong tree. I do agree Sivaji’s hype reached unprecedented levels. It is the media that created all this *hype* and the producers cashed on this. I dont think media is going to stop coverage on Sivaji even it AVM asks them. Even if we agree that it was AVM’s marketing ploy to create hype surrounding Sivaji, what did the media do last two years between two Rajinikanth movie releases ? Did they produced award winning news stories ? No, instead they had minute by minute coverage on Aishwarya – Abhishek Bachchan marriage. Indian media is obessed with celebrity news and they dont worry about the common man problems. You can blame only for media for this, not Rajini or AVM.

    >>Many people, among them journalists, have said that the hype went beyond all reasonable limits. Even those who aired news of Sivaji and the myriad stories surrounding it like the actor’s make up, hairstyle and other trivia, privately confess that they did for the bread and butter.

    So what is the difference between these journalists and pimps ? Both of them justify their actions by saying that they are doing it for bread and butter.

  5. pettyfogger (unregistered) on June 24th, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

    Albeit we do see eye to eye on this issue, I felt like I just read a high school essay pining desperately for a distinction. Do something about that! At least, you know, for that christ’s sake.

  6. Ravishankar (unregistered) on June 24th, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

    You are really sick…
    You have a choice to skip a channel and turn the pages..if you dont like why dont you helo yourself by not listening to or reading what u like..without doing this why u unnecessarily develop heart burn….

    Sivaji Rockks …

  7. Sivasubramaniam (unregistered) on June 24th, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

    YOu are boring man…
    most awful post so far that i have come across in the blog…
    For christ sake dont attempt to post better we all can skip this crap guys blogs…

  8. panampalli (unregistered) on June 25th, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

    Ah where do you draw line!!. I guess for most of us outside India it was a time to get together and celeberate. It stopped being a movie when every body was celebrating it like a festival.

    Although I have to say shankars script was a disappointment the film did live up to the grandiose expectations that we have come to expect of him.

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