No more milk offerings! Rajinikanth’s birthday bash takes a digital turn, tweets pour in

No more milk offerings! Rajinikanth's birthday bash takes a digital turn, tweets pour in

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.”

The average Rajini fan seems to be choosing less-dramatic ways to express his reverence for the veteran actor while maintaining that no love is lost. “The crazy generation of Rajini fans are growing older and millennials are a more non-confirming lot. Some participate in the social media frenzy genuinely but some also take part in it due to the fear-of-missing-out,” said Karthik Govindarajan, a younger Rajini fan and digital marketer based out of Chennai. “In any case there is no denyingthat fans like me continue to support Thalaivar (leader) by faithfully watching his movies whenever they release.” ‘#Rajinikanth’ was one of the most popular Indian twitter trends on Tuesday and tribute articles, fan made videos and posts were trending and widely shared on Facebook.

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.”

N Sathiya Moorthy, director of the Chennai chapter of think tank Observer Research Foundation reasons that the average film-goer now cares more about the actual political intent of celebrities over their larger than life personas. This has resulted in fewer ostentatious displays by their fandoms, according to him. “Stars like Sivaji Ganesan could easily pull a crowd of five to ten lakh people in multiple locations on his birthdays in the 1970s. But now it is impossible. The average citizen worships his heroes in more realistic ways, such as by keeping a tab on his/her public life and social welfare activities.” While both Rajini and Kamal may still be able to attract crowds, they may not find much success in electoral politics. “Their falling celebrity is an indicator of their current electoral saleability. They are aware of it and hence we see the caution in their political steps.
source : indiatimes.com

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