Raging Bull

Posted on October 30, 2010


Excitement never seems to cease whenever I watch a Rajni movie.

I sat down to watch Rajni’s 1980 blockbuster “Murattu Kaalai” today, eagerly waiting for the opening “Jallikattu” scene to end, as one of Rajni’s best opening tracks followed. As Kaalaiyan (Rajni) tames the bull, the chorus strikes with the folk beats – “Jai, Annanuku Jai, Kaalaiyanukku Jai”, he is carried onto the shoulders by his village crowd, with the nadaswaram melodically playing the opening verses of song, the thiruvilla scenes are displayed. It is the harvest festival – Pongal, being celebrated.

The lyrics of the first verse :-

“Podhuvaga en manasu thangam, oru potti nu vandhuvitta na singam.

Unmaiye sollven, nalladhai seiven; vetrimel vetri varum.

Aduvom, paduvam konaduvom; anandham kanuvom ennalume”

Which translates to – Normally I am gold hearted, but I am a lion when it comes to a competition. I will speak the truth, will do good, victory will come upon victory. We will dance, sing and celebrate and be happy as days go by.

Malaysia Vasudevan’s magic with maestro Illayaraja made this song a cult, which is a favorite among my generation as well and will stay the same for the next gen.

Not getting much into the movie which is about Kaalaiyan and his five brothers dealing with Panaiyar (Jai Shankar). The pre-climax which is a fight aboard a goods train is brilliant.

The sequence, filmed on the erstwhile meter-gauge section of Shengottai aboard a freighter has been shot in either a low angle or top angle showing more to the viewer  – the scenic backdrop, viaducts and the route of the train.

Capturing the bull with ease like he has captured Kollywood.

The only thing I regret is that I was not there to witness this movie when it released or even see it in a theatre (have not noticed a re-release in a long while).

This movie marked AVM’s return into film production after a hiatus of ten years and the strengthened the Rajni – S.P.Muthuraman collaboration.

In a recent episode of, ‘Chennai Speaks Out’ on NDTV-HINDU, the topic debated was whether the Rajni phenomenon was star power or marketing muscle. Senior journalist Gnani said that Rajni was an actor until “Murattu Kaalai” after which he became the mass figure, doing larger than life roles.

I do not understand why doing larger than life roles is not considered as a good form of acting. Rajni has proved his talent in “Moondru Mudichi” , “16 Vayathinile”, “Illamai Onjaladugirathu”, “Gayathri” and even in “Thillu Mullu” which released in 1981, which somehow puts a question mark on Gnani’s remark.

Predictably, Gnani was a MGR and MKT Bhagvathar enthusiast. He could be, no problem. But he shouldn’t have belittled Rajni. He spoke of MKT having women swoon over him and eat all meals in a silver plate.

With all due respect MKT had the early bird advantage, he started the trend and eventually MGR took over the status of the reigning star (again what Gnani quoted, and something I agree with).

But why can not he digest the fact that Rajni took over that status later on in time?

His whole debate focused on putting down Rajni and mentioning why he can not be matched with the likes of MKT and MGR.

He did have a loose comment, rather a baseless comment when he said “Muthu” was a hit in Japan only because of Meena, maybe or maybe not. But when Chinamyee stated that “Chandramukhi” was dubbed in Germany and was a success, he didn’t agree, his reaction showed the indifference towards the younger opponent who was opposing his views.

But she got back in jiffy by saying that she was a student in Germany when all this happened.     Gnani – stumped.

In no way am I competing with his views or opinions.

The presence of the Anti-Rajni folk which brings discord in conversations, forums and social media is disturbing.

One may not be fond of an artist, but vile views and attempted de-characterisation is not the way. This, after a string of comments, aimed against the actor before the release of Enthiran.

Arguments would predominantly lead into who being better – Rajni or Kamal. I am not interested in who is better; I am a fan, a crazy one at that. But I do not indulge in bringing down another actor.

One of my professors wrote a piece for a leading magazine where he quoted, “ By now, the Rajani-raanuvam (army) is jumping in the aisles in the most vivid display of premature ejaculation in public,” describing the reaction for Enthiran after the “Superstar Rajni” title is displayed.

I do not know how he came to such a decision, nor am I interested in finding out.

But as far as I am concerned or any Rajni fan for that matter, we had fun seeing our screen idol return and mesmerize us with his never fading charm.