Plastered with colourful posters of Superstar Rajinikanth, the walls of most roads and lanes in Chennai wore the festive look that has been commonplace on December 12, every year, on the now 67-year-old actor’s birthday. However, what has been missing in the last few years is the frenzied revelry that has defined his celebrity. Practices like milk offerings to massive Rajini cut-outs, bursting of firecrackers and the swelling crowds outside the star’s residence have subdued.The revelry might have taken a digital turn instead.
The common fan is increasingly taking to social media to mark his or her participation in the celebration even as fan organisations continue to organise blood donation camps and distribute clothes and other essentials to the poor. V M Sudhakar, the Administrator of the All India Rajinikanth Fans Association insisted that in the last three years there have been valid reasons to tone down the revelry, “In 2015the floods played spoilt sport and December 2016 was a sombre time in the state because of the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death. In both years sir (Rajini) had insisted that no celebrations be carried out. This year again cyclone Ockhi has taken so many lives, so on his orders I have asked all associations not to organise any big events.”
Even though veteran actors have requested fans to keep their birthday celebrations low key in the last few years, professor of film studies and author K Hariharan feels that the fan mania surrounding both stars, Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan has been fading “They’re on screen a lot less and fans usually need icons on screen at regular intervals to revere. Though we continue to revere them their larger-than-life statuses may be dimming and fading from our collective memory.” He reasons that the ever-increasing production values of movies may have a lot to do with stars’ less frequent appearances on screen, “Most producers are unable to afford the large production and release expenses, so both stars have come to feature in fewer movies unlike an Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan who run their own production houses.”