Performer, entertainer — fans celebrate Rajini

After receiving Dadasaheb Phalke Award, actor says he is nothing without fans

In his speech on Monday after receiving the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, actor Rajinkanth thanked his fans and said he would have been a “nobody” without them.

For decades, the actor has been heralded by his fans as a performer par excellence, an entertainer like no other, and most importantly, a role model and inspiration for many, given his humble beginnings and meteoric rise in the film industry.

“His speech today at the ceremony was defining of who he has been over the years — he acknowledged those who have shaped him over the years. For many of us, Mr. Rajinikanth has a refreshing take on what makes one a superstar, given how simple and modest he has remained through the years,” said Girish Kalyanaraman, co-founder of Retro Ticket, an online platform dedicated to rediscovering Tamil films.

Mr. Girish said watching the actor’s films on the day of its release on the big screen had been an emotional experience for many. “Through his career, he has taken on so many versatile roles. I cannot think of any other actor who would have taken on a film like Thillu mullu,” he said, recalling his performances in films such as Thappu thalangal and Aval appadidhaan.

For many, the experience of watching a Rajinikanth film ‘first day first show’ is a much-awaited ritual. Excitement for the same is now slowly building up, with the actor’s upcoming film, Annaatthe, all set to release for Deepavali.

“He is a great storyteller. As a writer, I have noticed how even in the smallest of shots, his actions tell us a story, and it is fascinating to see how he played an antagonist in his earlier films,” said Shalini Vijaykumar, a writer and actor, who also worked as an assistant director on the 2015 documentary For the love of a man that chronicled the actor’s fan following in Tamil Nadu.

Speaking about his timeless appeal, Ms. Shalini said Mr. Rajinkanth had always been a performer, who has been able to engage with and hold the audience’s attention with his presence.

Social media platforms on Monday were filled with fans and movie buffs cheering the actor for his achievement.

Several fans took to sharing their favourite onscreen moments of the superstar on Twitter. J.V. Raghav recalled his performance in Aarilirindhu arubadhu varai, the 1979 film directed by S.P. Muthuraman. For several fans, his performance in Baasha, where the actor played an auto driver with a past as a gangster, remains iconic. Lalith Kumar, a fan, tweeted about the transformation scene in particular, mentioning the actor’s intense look and the film’s theme music.

“It is always the inspirational ‘bounce-back scenes’ from Annamalai, Arunachalam and Padayappa,” tweeted Vijay, a fan, speaking about the iconic scenes in his films, as he rises up from adversity. His iconic punch lines too, including “En vazhi thani vazhi”, were remembered.

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