In the span of about seven months, three Rajinikanth films have released – Kaala, 2.0 and Petta. This is a rare occurrence as over the last couple of decades the Superstar had limited himself to doing one film a year. The gap between each of his films also went up to more than two years at the turn of the century.
It was not always the case. At the beginning of his career, Rajinikanth used to have a slew of releases every year. For instance, 1978, the year he became a hero with Bairavi, about 21 of his films in multiple languages were released and that’s a record in itself.
Rajinikanth’s recent back-to-back releases have revived the mood at the Tamil Nadu box office, which was hit by GST rollout, repeated strikes, the menace of online piracy, the power struggle within the industry and other financial crisis.
Industry experts only wish that Rajinikanth continues his zeal for signing multiple films every year.
Producer and distributor G Dhananjayan told Indianexpress.com that Rajinikanth films brought celebrations back to the theaters across the state. “Three Rajinikanth films coming out in 7 months has brought in huge revenues and in fact helped Tamil cinema achieve the highest ever box office revenues in a financial year. Whether all the films succeeded commercially is not important, but the fact is these three films brought in cheer to the box office is something we should all be happy about,” he said.
The last mile
It’s interesting that Rajinikanth has rediscovered his enthusiasm to do more films in quick succession at the last mile of his glorious career spanning over 40 years. The Superstar has announced his intentions to fight the next assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, which is due in 2021.
His contemporary Kamal Haasan has already floated a political outfit Makkal Needhi Maiam. The Ulaganayagan has announced that he will retire from acting for good after completing his upcoming film Indian 2, so he can devote his time to active politics.
Rajinikanth, however, is keeping cards very close to his chest. Is it confusing for people of Tamil Nadu to see him going on a film signing spree after announcing his long-awaited political debut? Apparently not.
“Audiences are not bothered about his entry into politics. They just want to be entertained (by him),” popular film distributor Tirupur Subramaniam told Indianexpress.com over the phone.
Dhananjayan opined that the younger stars of the industry should follow the Thalaivar. “Rajini had, in fact, set an example to other top stars like Vijay, Ajith and Suriya to bring out more films a year than just one film a year or two.”
“Doing three films is no big deal for a big hero like Rajinikanth. Even Ajith’s Viswasam released for Pongal, now his next film will release on May 1. This is healthy. Each artiste should do at least three films a year. Only then, the audience will come to theaters and the film industry will benefit. In the last 15 years, big heroes have done one film a year, which is causing the industry to suffer,” Subramaniam said.
Rajini, a box-office behemoth
Speaking of hard numbers, Rajinikanth’s last three films have collected a combined total of more than Rs 1000 crore from their worldwide ticket sales.
“Kaala was not a hit but it broke even at the box office. 2.0 and Petta were hits,” Subramaniam said.
Trade analysts said that Kaala’s global business was pegged at Rs 150 crore and 2.0 grossed about Rs 700 crore worldwide. “Petta collected Rs 100 crore within 15 days of its release in Tamil Nadu alone,” noted Subramaniam, who is the distributor of the Karthik Subbaraj directorial.
By end of February, Petta is predicted to complete its theatrical run in Tamil Nadu with a total of Rs 120 crore in its kitty. Last week, Sun Pictures, the producers of Petta, tweeted a video message giving a collection update of the film in international markets. “All distributors are happy, as till today (January 17), Petta has collected Rs 65 crore worldwide barring India,” said Malik of Malik Streams, the distributor of Petta in international markets.
“These films (Kaala, 2.0, Petta) together have collected more than Rs 1000 crore. No other hero can bring such a huge collection in this short span. He (Rajinikanth) is Number 1,” added Subramaniam. “He draws 50 per cent more remuneration than Vijay or Ajith and that should attest to this fact.”