Reacting to Rajini's 'Kick'!

Over reacting seems to be the order of the day. One test loss in Lanka was enough to put the careers of four illustrious sportspersons under the scanner for the umpteenth time only to be withdrawn in a hurry a few week later when the series had been equaled. Knee jerk reactions like these have become common place and it makes one wonder whether it is becoming a tradition to first say something and then think about it. The incident that began with Rajnikanth’s ‘controversial’ comments on the Hogennakkal issue is a classic example of too much being made out of too simple an issue, all due to the tendency to over react. This is not meant to be an explanation of what might have been meant and what had been interpreted, neither is it an attempt to land the blame on any single person for this sequence of unfortunate events. This is just to remind ourselves that the entire fiasco never had to happen, it was something totally avoidable and at the time of writing this the issue has not yet seen its end. There have been a few dissenting sounds in the industry following the apology or expression of regret

that was tendered by the Superstar which if not handled with maturity, could cause an unwarranted extension of an issue that has been around for too long.

It all started with the film fraternity joining hands to express their strong support to the Hogenakkal project and to condemn the opposition of Karnataka. Rajinikanth is generally loved for his ‘punch’ dialogues, but the ‘kick’ dialogue that he delivered that day did not go down too well with a few people in Karnataka. Anyone who knows Rajnikanth will certainly understand that he certainly did not mean what he said and literally, giving a kick to the whole of Karnataka is not possible. But it has to be admitted that even though Superstar never had the kick in mind, the choice of words could have been better. To put it in better words, the sentiments should have been diplomatically put forth. But what followed the ‘off the cuff’ remark was a series of unsavory events that were definitely uncalled for. Some miscreants and disturbers of public peace, took it into their hands to restore the ‘pride’ of Karnataka, the only question being if the ‘pride’ had been lost at all. If these loyal and violently miscreants believed that the whole of Karnataka could be insulted by one hypothetical kick, then they have to think again. Asking for a ban on Rajnikanth films in the state, tearing and burning of posters and banners and other such protests make it look more like a political gimmick. Banning Rajnikanth’s films, to which the livelihood of many people is linked, for a matter that involved only Rajnikanth was scandalous, albeit a regular practice in our country (remember, Aamir Khan films don’t release in Gujarat). Their sense of pride and love for their state and mother tongue can be understood, but this was hardly an occasion that merited such spirited expression. To put it simply, the emotions were right, but the occasion and the method of expression were way off the mark. Demanding an explanation from the Superstar for his comments was the only reasonable demand, and would have looked much more credible if it had come without all the other destructive add-ons.

Well, then explanations were given, most of which veered away from the actual matter. Telling that he had been in Bangalore for a long time and could never wish ill for Karnataka and that even Kannadigas enjoyed his movies were statements that did not directly address the issue on hand. The urgency for an amicable resolution to the issue was increasing as August 1st neared. Initially, there was a deal struck with the Film Chamber for a limited release, but prevailing tensions are not exactly a conducive atmosphere to release a movie and Rajinikanth decided to step in and settle the issue for good. When matters reach such heights of contention someone has to relent that the issue be resolved and one must really appreciate Rajinikanth for not being too egotistical in giving the public an explanation for his words. We knew even without him saying that he never meant ill for anyone, let alone the Kannadigas and did not wish to hurt anyone’s sentiments. But for things to return to normal he had to explain things which he did - and hopefully the matter has ended here.

But what are the dissenting voices in the Tamil film industry? What are they upset about? That Rajinikanth offered an explanation (seen by many as an apology) for (even if unwillingly) sparking off the protests. What else should he have done? Waited for the issue to go from bad to worse, for the producer of Kuselan to incur a few crores of losses in Karnataka, for a few more posters to burn? If they were so much in favor of what Rajini had said, why did they wait for him to tender an apology before speaking out on the issue? The support for Rajini and Kuselan’s release in Karnataka should have been out in the open much earlier. One person has felt that Rajini should not have apologized, but personally refunded the losses of distributors in Karnataka- fanciful and impossible. Yes, it has happened once before, with Baba, but it was an unfortunate debacle, not a precedent for the future. Rajinikanth acted quickly and responsibly in the best interest of many people who are linked to Kuselan. Not only K.B, but also the distributors, exhibitors and fans who come to watch his films. If some people feel that the whole of Tamil Nadu will lose its self respect just because one man (even if it is Superstar) tendered an apology to Karnataka, then they are way off the mark. Standing up and accepting mistakes is one of the toughest and bravest things to do, especially when you are the idol of millions.

The whole thing might look a bit confusing. There is no one person on whom the blame can be hung. Rajini triggered the issue with a speech where emotions dictated the words that were spelt out. Reactions, counter-reactions and many more exchanges brought the issue to a point where an unconditional statement of regret was required. It came to this because of what looks like an inherent tendency to overreact, to feel hurt and victimized and retaliate. What could have passed off as a few inappropriate words became a matter of pride for two states. Has anything more trivial become this big an issue before?

By Arun Gopinath.

Respond to

Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.

Dasavatharam – why it didn’t work for me
Artistically hooked
Unlikely Kollywood Villains
Which is the best avatharam?
The message of Kalifulla Khan
Time to review freedom of expression!
Can Ajith & Vijay revive the TRPs?
The Chennai bred six-pack!
‘Unblocking the creativity block’
Fourth Dimension
The Dasavatharam answer to all the critical clamor