Rajinikanth's power lies not just in the jokes that are made about him. You have to be in Chennai to taste it first-hand. We had the pleasure of witnessing it at the music launch of his next film, Kochadaiiyaan, directed by his daughter, Soundarya Rajinikanth Ashwin.
The auditorium Satyam Cinema, where the event was held, was bursting with people wanting a glimpse of the event that was slated to start at 10:30 am. Rajini's affable wife, Lata, and their daughters, Soundarya and Aishwarya, were already at the venue at 10 in the morning. Son-in-law actor Dhanush came soon after dressed in a traditional white shirt and mundu. Rajini came in exactly at 10:25 am and the fans went berserk. He was followed by A R Rahman, who has composed the music for the film. Whoever doubted the punctuality of South film stars had their questions answered.
Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and Jackie Shroff came in after ten odd minutes. We hear both of them took a chartered flight from Mumbai at around seven in the morning to reach the venue on time. When the legend arrives on time, the otherwise not-so-punctual Bollywood stars toe the line.
We are told that heads of 500 of his fan clubs (he has over 70,000 registered fan clubs) were invited to the event as a goodwill gesture. Seated in the balcony, these fan club representatives screamed and cheered loudly every time 'Rajini Sir' as much as craned his neck, proving their loyalty. Most speeches on the dais were made in Tamil but one speech stood out -- it even left Rajinikanth misty eyed. This was when director K Balachander, the man who gave him the first break, recollected how he knew that history was being made when he saw Rajinikanth give his first shot.
SRK, in his speech, reminisced about the time when he was a struggling actor and he had managed to enter one of Rajnikanth's film sets in Mukesh Mills in Mumbai. He recalled how he had watched Rajinikanth practice his cigarette act in front of the mirror, and how he was inspired upon seeing this man work so hard for his audiences.
All in all, it was a memorable afternoon.