Is the Superstar aware that a group of people climbed up 1,500 steps on their knees to pray for his film’s success? Or that while he was recovering in Singapore after a respiratory problem, a group back in Tamil Nadu decided to make a sacrifice by eating food directly from the tarmac, to appease gods? Or the fact that despite being financially poor, his fans sold their homes to raise money to promote his film?
Documentary filmmaker Rinku Kalsy’s upcoming documentary For the Love of a Man splices sequences from different pockets of the slum in the State, besides Mumbai and Japan, to reflect the quantum of love that his fan clubs (almost 55,000 in number) have for Rajini. “I want Rajini sir to see it first,” says Rinku, whose four-year-old project is now in the post production stage.
Rinku says that Rajini is aware that a movie about his fans is being made. “One of my friends spoke to his secretary last year when Lingaa was about to release. But I guess he was very busy then. I also know that Rajini sir does not give interviews. But I am still trying,” she says. However, Rinku is not banking on the one on one. She is satisfied having seen him a couple of times in public events. “The film is about the people, how they look at him and their devotion to him!” says Rinku, who has her own film studio in the Netherlands.
For someone sitting miles away, and never having visited Chennai before, what sparked the curiosity? “One of my friends, who was teaching in the rural schools of South India back in 2009, told me about how most children he met expressed their wish to be like Rajini’s character in Sivaji, that of a software engineer, when they grow up. We wondered why Bollywood stars never got the same adulation,” she says.
Rinku reached Chennai during the release of Enthiran, and started her journey talking to a small time politician, N Ravi from Vellore. “He said that he made it big in his life only because of Rajini. His life was exactly like that of the character Annamalai. Like Annamalai, who was a milkman, and then went on to become rich, even Ravi used to sell homemade sweets earlier and then became the owner of several restaurants,” she says.
She realised that being part of the Rajini fan club was like establishing an identity for the slum people. “When they are part of a structured group, they have a standing. And there is a guarantee that they will get tickets for the first day first show. I even know of someone whose wife married him because he was part of the fan club,” she says.
There are others who go to the extremes with their adulation. Rinku came across a person who mortgaged his wife’s jewellery before the release of Rajini’s movie for the promotional banners, and is now unable to pay the interest, while another man sold his house for `one lakh. “It was shocking for me. I asked them what does Rajini have to say for all this? They said that the minute Rajini sir knew, he had the right to disband the club. They said that he always advised them to take care of their parents, finances, and only do service as part of the clubs when they have the time,” she says.
The film is now accepting funds for the final stage of its production on the crowdfunding site Wishberry.Com