Kaala is Rajini’s first film since he made his political debut. Sathyam Cinemas, however, says the movie is housefull in their multiplex till the weekend.
The trend still continues and Rajni sir is a person whose movies people wait to watch. The buzz still continues for this movie as well. I don’t know about other multiplexes, but when it comes to ours, the weekend tickets are already booked. The week day bookings are already moving,” Swaroop Reddy, Director of Satyam Cinemas, told CNN-News 18.
But film critic Sreedhar Pillai admits that there has been a drop in the ticket sales for Kaala. “There has been a drop in the ticket sales and it is nowhere close to Kabali or the previous Rajni movies. His political statements have impacted the release of Kaala. I can’t say if it has affected the release entirely though. The statements he made during his visit to Tuticorin to meet the protesters who were injured has hurt certain sections of the people and he was trolled on social media for the same. He is not just the superstar we knew once and he is going to start a political party which he is still yet to name. So, his political entry has affected his movie release to a certain extent,” Pillai said.
Political analysts say his stardom and political debut are interlinked.
“This is the first Rajini movie which has not been sold out on a weekend in over 20 years. As far as my memory goes, this includes his movie Kuselan in which Rajini does not do fight scenes. This seems to indicate that there is some revulsion in the minds of people. The only reason for this feeling is Rajini’s comments in Tuticorin. Lot of common people have reacted to Rajini’s statement on anti-social elements taking over agitation. This has got wide publicity across the state,” RK Radhakrishnan, Associate Editor of Frontline, said.
“Obviously, if anybody is coming into politics, everything around him will be studied closely by the people. Movie obviously is part of Rajini’s politics. He can’t claim otherwise. The only reason he has entered politics is because of his stardom. When there is dichotomy in his views, people start thinking if this is a case of split personality. For instance, in the movie he says ‘agitate’ but in real life, he asks people not to protest and turn Tamil Nadu into a graveyard,” Radhakrishnan added.
Fans and well-wishers of Rajinikanth, however, believe ‘Rajinimania’ hasn’t faded just yet.
PC Bala, author of Rajini’s Punchatantra and Grand Brand Rajini said: “His political statements have been welcome by many people and they have not voiced it so much in social media as how others have done. The movie promo has been low-key and that may be a reason if at all there is a reduction in bookings. If the movie is good, the momentum will pick up. Rajini mania and more importantly the expectation from Rajini movie has not faded. Also, you cannot compare Kaala with Kabali as the latter was a real return of Thalaiva on full scale.”
Two theatres in Chennai known to be one of the favourites for a Rajini movie will not screen his film this time. There have been reports that team Kaala asked them to increase the ticket price.
Wunderbar Films, the production company owned by Rajini’s son-in-law Dhanush and daughter Aishwarya, said the reports are false and baseless. In a tweet, Wunderbar Films said: “Kamala & Udhayam theaters have not expressed their consent to the similar terms that’s been agreed by other cinemas. News going around saying huge demands put forth is absolutely false & baseless.”