As the nation prepares for Rajinikanth to return to the screen with Darbar this week, here are facts about the media-shy star that are not widely known.
Rajinikanth has always considered Kamal Haasan his biggest rival. In fact, they may swear to be friends but the fact is that there has always been an undisclosed veneer of antagonism between them ever since Rajni played villain to Kamal’s hero in his debut film Apoorva Raagangal (made in Hindi as Ek Nayi Paheli). Though Rajini soon became a leading man and an iconic superstar, he never goes over the fact that he was a villain in a Kamal starrer when he started out.
Rajinikanth’s career in Hindi films floundered from the start. Though he was the lead in his first Hindi film Andha Kanoon, it was Amitabh Bachchan who walked away with all the credit in an extended guest appearance. Again in Hum Rajini played second lead to Bachchan. Subsequently, his Hindi films like Aasli Naqli and Mera Kanoon were terrible flops and Rajini soon gave up Bollywood.
A superstar in the South, Rajini’s films have never done that well in their dubbed Hindi avatar. This is why his latest film Darbar has been shot in Mumbai. When director A R Murugadoss wrote the cop’s role in Darbar for Rajinikanth he made sure it had a pan-India appeal. The cop that Rajini plays in Darbar is as angry as the Big B in Zanjeer but also as funny as Salman Khan in Dabangg.
Darbar is Rajinikanth’s 167th film. His last few films have underperformed at the box-office. In spite of his frail health Rajinikanth insisted on performing the stunts himself. While director Murugadoss was willing to use a body double Rajini put his foot down. ‘What purpose does an action film serve for me if someone else is doing the action?’ he reasoned with his director. And that was that.
Rajinikanth always shows his films to his wife Latha first. Her opinion matters to Rajini and he watches her face carefully as she watches his films. Latha apart, Rajini doesn’t care about anyone’s opinion. He has never read a single review of any of his films. As far as Darbar is concerned its super-success is crucial to Rajinikanth’s career. Will it see the return of Rajinimania?