I just had two separate commentators point out that I haven’t mentioned anything about Kabali yet. And, unrelated to that, I just discovered I will have to drive an extra half an hour next time I want to see Sultan, because all SIX screens at my local Indian multiplex are playing Kabali and nothing else for the next week. So, I guess it’s time for a post!
You know what I hate? I hate when people who barely know anything try to be analytical and smart about something. Like all those stupid Western academics (many of whom may have been my teachers in grad school) who dismiss Indian cinema as just about singing and dancing and escapism. And that’s why I usually don’t cover regional film industry news, because I am worried that anything I say will be ignorant, or possibly insulting. I’ll discuss box office, because that’s just numbers, and I’ll post a review with lots of “in this one film, so far as I can tell, maybe” modifiers, but I don’t want to talk about anything beyond that. Only, Kabali is just so HUGE! It has beaten it’s way through my resistance!
I might actually see this one in theaters, but probably not for at least a week (I’ve been told opening week ticket prices for Rajnikanth films around me go upwards of $20). In the meantime, I am just going to report some of the interesting bits of news that have been hitting the usual Indian sources I check over the past few days. And those who know more or have more details they want to share, feel free to put them in the comments!
Here’s an interesting story I read yesterday. All the courtesy pre-screenings of the film, where the star or producer will show it to friends or mentors or something, have been canceled. Because Kamal Haasan is sick (I want to say he broke his knee? Something like that), so he can’t make it to a screening. And Rajnikanth isn’t showing it to anyone else until Kamal sir sees it. I can understand the sentiment, and it is certainly very respectful to Kamal, but if I were one of the random other friends and business partners who had been invited to a screening the day after Kamal, I would be awfully disappointed to have to wait and see it in theaters like everyone else!
Here’s another little story. The Tamil Nadu Milk Dealers association is requesting that fans stop buying milk just to bath Rajnikanth billboards in honor of the release. More importantly, they are requesting that fans stop STEALING milk in order to bath posters. Apparently, it is a consistent problem for them with Rajnikanth release dates. Instead, they suggest purchasing milk and giving it to the slums, or even distributing it in the theaters. Anything besides just throwing it away!
You know, that never occurred to me! The waste of milk inherent in this practice, I mean. The milk tradition comes from bathing statues in temples, right? Would that milk (in the temples) be collected and distributed as a blessing, or would it just drain away too? Either way, my understanding is that it would be a one shot thing, one priest would bath the statue, so the milk-waste would be minimal. But now you’ve got all these teenage boys showing off by climbing up to the top of posters and pouring milk down, and they each have to do it, and now that’s just gallons and gallons and gallons wasted!
Although, apparently, Rajni sir and his official fan club are aware of this issue and are trying to encourage the fans to do something besides milk (a blood drive, a donation drive) or, if they have to use milk, at least pay for it!
All these stories popping up, taken together, puzzle me. Not the specifics, but just that this film is SUCH a big deal, these stories are showing up in my usual Indian film news sources. Why the promotion and distribution for this one in particular has been SOOOOOOOOO huge. I mean, I have 4 different Indian websites I check multiple times a day, and I don’t remember ever before running into so many stories about a Telugu release. Even that Rajnikanth film from a few years back, with all the CGI, I don’t remember this kind of huge groundswell of support.
It looks like his last film was 2 years ago, is that part of it? That people have been waiting so long? And I think I read somewhere that his last 2 films (so, Lingaa and that CGI historical one) weren’t the huge hits they could have been. Is that what’s going on here? Are the fan clubs hitting the street and PR people trying to build up buzz because there is a need to “prove” his power? Or is it just a reflection of how the film industry has grown in the past 2 years, with more and more prints being made and sent everywhere in India and all over the world, and the global media better able to spread the news and excitement to everyone? Or is there some other factor I don’t know about? As I said, I really really don’t know anything!