Kaala finds tame opening: Has Rajinikanth lost his reign over the box office?
In what is being perceived as a shocking setback to the Superstar's legend, his latest release Kaala is reported to have opened to a rather underwhelming response.
Has the Rajinikanth dream lost its sheen? In what is being perceived as a shocking setback to the Superstar's legend, his latest release Kaala is reported to have opened to a rather underwhelming response. Media sources say that Kaala, which released in over 1,800 screens worldwide on Thursday, has had one of the lowest-recorded openings in recent times for a Rajinikanth-starrer.
The tepid response has led to growing doubts about Rajinikanth’s prospects in Tamil Nadu politics, given that Kaala is his first film after he jumped into the political arena. The expected hype about a Rajini movie was said to be lukewarm even in Chennai, the hotbed of Rajini fan clubs, and also in other centres where he is traditionally known to have a strong following.
Sources at Chennai theatres say the film has found pre-bookings only for two days, which is extremely unusual for a Rajinikanth film. Reports from Hyderabad say that there was just not enough “Rajini money” visible for Kaala - in the form of publicity and merchandise. Media analysts say that the response to the film could be a result of people taking a stand against the Superstar's views on issues such as the Cauvery dispute with Karnataka.
In Delhi, earlier, the Supreme Court refused to stall the release of the film. “Everybody is waiting for Rajinikanth’s Kaala,” Supreme Court judges said. However, actor-activist Vishal Krishna who heads the Tamil Nadu Films Producers' Council (TFPC) offered a quote saying it's too early to make any predictions."The opening of Kaala may be on the lower side, because his last film with the same director (Pa. Ranjith) had not been appreciated that much," he said. Vishal adds that "Kaala" may well surprise naysayers.
A trade analyst has been quoted in reports admitting that Rajini's last few films haven't done too well. "The promos of Kaala haven't established a connect with Hindi audiences. It looks like a 1990's film. But we hope they have a great story to be shared, which may be liked - and the film does well," he is quoted as saying. Notably, 'Kaala' has to compete with 'Jurassic World' of the Steven Spielberg franchise at the same time.
Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty, who has worked repeatedly with Rajini on "Ra.One", "Robot" etc, has also been quoted saying that Rajini's politics could be a negative force in his career. "I would imagine, (given) the socio-political stand Rajini Sir has taken in the past one year, people might have started looking at him differently from the demi-god that he used to be," said Pookutty.
Meanwhile, theatres in Karnataka are avoiding screening 'Kaala', amid protests.
Single screen theatres and multiplexes across Karnataka on Thursday avoided screening the multi-lingual "Kaala" amid vociferous protests by pro-Kannada activists against his remarks on the Cauvery river water issue."We are unable to screen Kaala for the time being despite the security provided due to strong protests against its release by the Kannada Rakshana Vedike (KRV) activists outside," a multiplex official said.
Though police were deployed at some 120 theatres and multiplexes where the film was to be screened on the Karnataka High Court's direction on Tuesday, morning and afternoon shows were cancelled to avoid untoward incidents."We have not issued tickets for the morning and afternoon shows though many fans turned up to watch the movie on the first day first show as we do not want to antagonise the protesters and also want to ensure that the tense situation outside does not go out of hand," said the official on the condition of anonymity.
Hundreds of activists of pro-Kannada organisations, including the KRV, gathered outside theatres and multiplexes in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubballi, Mangaluru, Ballari and Belagavi to protest against the film's release."Cauvery water is more important than a Rajinikanth film for us. Our honour and Kannada pride are at stake. He (Rajinikanth) has hurt us by supporting the cause of Tamil Nadu in the sharing of the river water," KRV president Praveen Shetty told reporters here.
Many fans who bought the tickets online for the show on Wednesday were disappointed as they could not watch their favourite superstar's film. Besides the original Tamil version, the film has been released across the country and beyond with sub-titles in Hindi, Telugu and English.