Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shivaji Rao Gaekwad/SUPERSTAR Rajni's Top 12 films (according to me)

So with the release of Endhiran this Friday causing so much buzz, I thought it was time to do a little primer on Rajnikanth (similar to my post on Vikram) ...

Most people can't help but be charmed by the story of Rajnikanth, a man from a poor background who had worked as a coolie and a bus conductor, who eventually became the 2nd highest paid actor in Asia (the first being Jackie Chan, naturally). He's an institution in Tamil Nadu, a star that the masses won't let fade, because they love him too much. What can be said about Rajnikanth? He's almost universally loved. Even though he's done a limited number of Hindi movies, he's always recognized for his style. He's been called the Baadshah of the Box Office - it doesn't matter what the subject is, who the director is, or who his co-star is ... Rajni's presence will drive fans to the theatres in droves. He is so beloved that the audiences of Tamil Nadu will reject any movie in which he dies!

Slate.com did this nice Rajni 101 article that I appreciated ... it wonderfully describes Rajnikanth this way:
This is Rajinikanth, and he is no mere actor—he is a force of nature. If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth.

That's pretty epic. As is the man it's written about. Here's another article about Why Rajni Rocks!

Yet another great article published in the PR flurry of his latest release Endhiran (co-starring Aishwariya Rai Bachchan) lists some of the most popular Rajnikanth jokes (in the vein of the Chuck Norris jokes). CLICK HERE to check out the entire article, but here's some of my favorites:
  • Rajnikanth doesn't move at the speed of light. Light moves at the speed of Rajnikanth.
  • Rajnikanth never wet the bed as a child. The bed wet itself in fear.
  • There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rajnikanth lives in India.
  • Google won't find Rajnikanth because you can't find Rajnikanth. Rajnikanth finds you.
  • Rajnikanth doesn't need a visa to travel abroad, he just jumps from the tallest building in Chennai and holds himself in the air while the earth rotates.
You can check out some more Rajni jokes here. So obviously Rajnikanth is an institution and a legend in Tamil Nadu (and also in Japan!) ...

There's even an app for Rajnikanth:

An Australian fan created an iPhone app for Rajni fans!
If you've never seen a Rajni movie, you definitely need to. Just don't start with Padaiyappa, you may not come back to us. However once you are sucked in, Padaiyappa can be fun! Especially the lines Abbas delivers in praise of Rajni - "What a man!" and "Illai, ungalakku vayasu ahallai!" (No, you haven't gotten old!)

He zoomed to popularity in films from the late 70s such as Moondru Mudichu and 16 Vayathinile, playing the baddie with such panache that you were drawn in despite the negative character. Even in Hindi films he was popular for his antics with sunglasses and cigarettes (flipping and flicking them with fabulous sound effects!), as well as his kick-a$$ mojo.

He's everyman, yet he's Superman!
He also became famous for his one-liners ... dialogues that he uses several times in his films until they become cult-classics ... much like the way Salman Khan used the line "Hum tumri jaan mein itna ched karenge itna ched karenge ki confuse ho jaoge ki..Saas kaha se ley aur pade kaha se" in the movie Dabangg (2010). However Rajni's lines were a regional craze! The image below from Forbes India showcases some of his best ones:



So EVERYONE who's ANYONE will probably be checking out what Rajni (at age 60) has got in Endhiran, which releases tomorrow, October 1, 2010. But here's a list of some of my Top 12 favorite Rajnikanth movies:
1. Billa (1980) - an almost scene-for-scene remake of Amitabh Bachchan's Don, but it's an incredible ride because it's RAJNI man!

2. Thillu Mullu (1981) - another remake, this one is of Amol Palekar's popular comedy Gol Maal (1979).

3. Geraftaar - Hindi (1985) - the combo of three of my favorite actors, Amitabh, Kamal Hassan and Rajnikanth, is too killer! And gratuitous cigarette flipping by Rajni also features prominently.

4. Guru Sishyan (1988) - great blockbuster comedy with Rajni and Prabhu. This hit was remade by Director Shakti Chidambaram in 2010 with Sathyaraj of all people, which I think is a travesty.

5. Chaalbaaz (1989) - obviously I love Sridevi, who is the ultimate star in this movie, but Rajni's taxiwallah character was really memorable and hilarious, especially his little sing-song "Aaj Sunday hai, to kya? Aaj hamare daaru peene ka day hai!"

6. Hum (1991) - Again this wasn't Rajni's movie - Amitabh was the star through and through, but it also had a powerhouse combo of Amitabh-Rajni-Govinda which made the movie AMAZING.

7. Thalapathi (1991) - again an amazing star cast, but the only one I really remembered was Rajni. And of course the awesome song "Raakamma Kai Thattu" featuring the beautiful Shobhana. How could they take such a great song and turn it into "Tu Tu Tu Tu Tu Tara"???

8. Annamalai (1992) - I think this is my ultimate favorite Rajni movie. It is HILARIOUS, and features Rajni with Khushboo (who had such a huge fan base in Tamil Nadu I heard they built a temple for her). We still use running jokes from this all the time ... such as "Prince?" "YES!" ... you just have to see it. I also LOVE the scene where there's a snake in Khushboo's bathroom and Rajni is terrified but has to save her. Just couldn't stop laughing!

9. Veera (1994) - I'm not sure why I loved this one so much, it could be because I totally love the actress Meena or the song "Madathile" ... the story takes a weird turn at some point and I absolutely CANNOT reconcile the end AT ALL, but I still enjoyed this movie in general. It was remade in Hindi by David Dhawan as Saajan Chale Sasural but Gharwali Baharwali also had that awkward, WRONG ending that Veera had. Veera also had a line-play on one of his earlier films ... a one-liner that my husband and I always say ... "How iiiis iiiiit? Suuuuuuuuper!"


10. Muthu (1995) - Another mega blockbuster that featured Rajni with Meena (who is just such an amazingly gorgeous lady, but god, do they ever stuff her into the most ridiculous outfits). Directed by one of my favorite comedy directors K.S. Ravikumar and featuring music by A.R. Rehman (the first time he did music for a Rajni blockbuster!), this movie was most memorable for the lavish song picturizations, especially "Thillana Thillana"  (yes, I know they sampled that bit from Deep Forest). This movie was apparently dubbed for Japanese audiences and made Rajni a sensation in Japan!

11. Arunachalam (1997) - a kind of version of Brewster's Millions, but Rajni-fied! I tend to get the storylines of Annamalai, Muthu and Arunachalam mixed up, but honestly who cares? They're all awesome! Once you start watching you will get sucked in and love every sunglass-twirling, towel-flourishing second. Rajni was paired with Rambha and Soundarya in this one.

12. Chandramukhi (2005) - most everyone knows this one as the remake of the Malayalam hit 'Manichitrathazhu' or the inspiration for the Hindi 'Bhool Bhulaiya' ... this was a really over-the-top and yet perfectly intriguing film. Is it a ghost story? Is it a psychological drama? It seems even most reviewers aren't sure. One thing it has in common with Rajni blockbusters is a point where a character does an entire soliloquy about how amazing Rajni's character is. All Hail Rajni! Jyothika was also given a very prominent role, though she is opposite Prabhu instead of Rajni. Rajni is paired with then newcomer Nayantara (who hasn't looked the same - or worn as much clothing - since. I suppose it worked in her favor since she's now Prabhudeva's ladylove). Interesting how Jyothika had such a great run in Tamil Cinema before marrying Surya Sivakumar but never paired with Rajni! Then again, nor did Simran who was one of the top Tamil actresses in the mid to late 90s and early 2000s. Anyway, I don't know who would EVER consider Akshay Kumar to take on a role played by Rajni ... he simply couldn't carry it off.

Also very memorable was that when I went to see this film at the theatre, there was an aunty there wearing a nightie. Awesome.

So there are definitely some honorable mentions that didn't make my personal top 12, such as Andhaa Kanoon, Gair Kanooni, Padaiyappa, Baasha, Ejjamaan, Kuselan and many of his earlier films that have merits. These are just my favorites, the ones that I can watch over and over!

I am definitely excited for the release of Endhiran, even if I do think a Rajni-Ash pairing is absolutely ridiculous ... I have high hopes that this film will erase the disappointment of Sivaji and Baba. I will probably be shelling out for that $20 ticket, because when push comes to shove, I love me some Rajni.



I'm going to try and quickly throw together a post of the best Rajni-Entry-Songs from his films. It's a genre of it's own.

I hope you check out some of Rajni's films ... if you don't know where to begin, I'd recommend Annamalai and Muthu!

Also coming up in October - it's Rekhalicious October, spearheaded by @sujoysingha over at oneknightstands.net. Definitely check out his blog for some great stuff, and I'll be doing some special Rekha posts as well!

2 comments:

  1. What can I say?... SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUPPPERRRR!! hahaha.. love the post! Esp the top 12 selection but I will admit I'm laggin on the Hindi film front when it comes to Rajni. But other flicks I loved were Tharmathin Thalaivan- I demanded to watch this as my bedtime movie when I was a kid, not asked, DEMANDED- and Netrikkan.. Love that logic or not, Rajni makes you enjoy his movies.. barring BABA which I dont have any words for ...?!?!

    Thanks for the post!

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  2. I've been wanting to know more about Rajnikanth. Thanks for making this list!

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