Yours Forever, A Rajiniac

Yours Forever, A Rajiniac

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I don’t remember the year. 1998, perhaps. Or 1999. Around four in the afternoon. I was watching Muthu on TV and it was the scene where you’re beaten out of your home, to the strains of Vidukathaiya in the background. That’s when I snapped.


I cried. Smothered sniffs at first. And then full-blown tears. My family watched me, amused. They knew, of course, but they asked “Why?” And I–the eight- or nine-year-old suddenly ashamed of myself—replied that I wanted an apple. They struggled to keep their laughter within. And I struggled to keep myself from becoming more of a moron. Game exposed and over but common sense be damned - how in hell could someone lay on a finger on you? And worse, how could you not hit back?


However, my parents still sent someone to buy me an apple.


It’s the first memory I have of you. The memory is so vivid because I think that was the day I became a Rajiniac – a Rajini maniac. Nobody in my family worshipped you or anything; they watched your movies like they’d watch anyone else’s.


Just goes to show that environment doesn’t necessarily influence preferences.


I walked like Baasha, whipped my belt out like Padayappa, and cringed at Baba. I also went backwards and gazed in wonder at Thillu Mullu, Ranga, Thaai Meedhu Sathiyam, Pokkiri Raja, Nallavanukku Nallavan, Dharmathin Thalaivan, Naan Sigappu Manithan, Guru Sishyan, Raja Chinna Roja, Rajathi Raja, Yejamaan, Mannan, Annamalai and Uzhaippali. Films like 16 Vayathinile, Thalapathy, Thambikku Endha Ooru, Aarulirundhu Arubadhu Varai, and Engaeyo Kaetta Kural put you on a different level in my eyes. More than once I could be found in front of the mirror, twirling sunglasses, styling my hair your way, and turning my head sharply at no one in particular.


Anyone who knows me reasonably well is forced to know that I enjoy bouts of hysteria when someone utters your name. A friend recently exclaimed, “Huh! You like him because he’s a Kannadiga like yourself, settled in Madras.”


I told him 8-year-olds don’t know what Kannadiga means.


And I believe that’s exactly why kids from my generation, and successive generations, can’t help feeling drawn towards the man with the unkempt hair and the magnetic smile. They don’t know why they love you. That’s why they love you.


Whether it’s an intense “Ullae po!”, or a smiling “Konjam veliya iru ma”. Whether it’s cigarettes or gum. Close-ups of you spouting punchlines or wide-angles of you walking. Family sentiment or friendship. Comedy or action.


Every scene is an event. Every scene is electricity.


I’ve had at least 50 dreams of meeting you. But ironically enough, I’ve told myself in my sleep that I’m only dreaming. Unconsciously conscious of reality. And the heavy pang of sorrow after waking up, every one of those 50 times: that’s hell, I suppose.


I’ll meet you once - that I’m sure. I don’t know when, or how. But it’s one of those things. In the words of your dear friend, it’s “the Raghavan Instinct”.


For those who scoff at hero-worship and say “Why can’t you see actors for what they are?” - I don’t have the patience to explain what it feels like to be a Superstar fanatic.


Try feeling it firsthand, sitting in the theatre FDFS. Or invite a fanatic friend home and watch a movie with him/her. And keep glancing at the fanatic’s face, follow his/her reactions.


It’ll tell you all you ever need to know.


But if all this hero-worship still feels silly, no worries. Just step aside, and stay out of sight. 

Pawan Kumar

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