The Boss is Back 16

After 12 days, Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe has grossed 2,250,000,000 Rupees (30,204,000.00 USD) 5 at the box-office. This despite the film receiving almost universally dreadful reviews. I myself, despite being an eager Superstar fan, found the film dreadfully loud, sentimental, violent and unconvincing. In spite of excellent parts, not least of which is Thalaivar’s reunion with Kushbu and Meena, it just does not pull together as a whole. The Times of India review gives the film 2/5 stars and is titled, “Even Rajinikanth cannot save badly written Annaaatthe.” Well it looks like they were completely wrong. The Superstar, it seems, has saved the film single-handedly!

What is it about Rajinikanth that enables him to draw the faithful even as a 70 year-old playing his signature super cool and superhumanly heroic character? Does the answer lie in his indubitably unique persona and ability to connect with the masses? Or does it lie in the Tamilian culture of adulation, veneration and deification of exemplars, and the ease with which Tamils nominate living culture heroes !

See also

Rajinikanth’s Political Entry
Thani Vazhi (தனி வழி)
Who is Kaala dada?
Who is Rajinikanth Dada?
Abhimanyu Sir
Thalaivaa!!
Yar Nee Ayah?
Kaala Karikaalan
A Post-Traditional Polity?
Rajinikanth Glows Saffron
Gaikwad cries Jai Bhim

Image: https://www.rfi.fr/en/business-and-tech/20211105-covid-hit-india-cinemas-bet-on-delayed-blockbusters-to-revive-crowds

https://www.msn.com/en-in/entertainment/southcinema/annaatthe-box-office-collection-day-12-rajinikanth-starrer-earns-rs-225-crore/ar-AAQKKXo

The Boss is Back 14

The screening of a new Rajinikanth film (there have been 168 to date) always brings to mind the Tamilian (Hindu) notion of divinity – that God is everywhere and in everything. This immanent deity has two significant implications. In deep metaphysical terms it means that knowing or experiencing the attendant reality requires a transcendence of the egoistic self and recognizing the unity of all consciousnesses in one consciousness. This unification or oneness of the divinity is, counterintuitive as it might seem, analogous to the Islamic notion of Tawhid. On more mundane egocentric level, however, this immanence means that Tamilians might choose to designate any one of the innumerable parts. of the ubiquitous divinity, as the bearer of the presence of the whole. While some might deem this to be idolatrous or, in Islamic terms, Shirik. for Tamils separate parts of the divinity, ranging from rocks and trees to consecrated icons, can each stand for the whole. It is this synecdochic ontology that allow Tamilians to turn, the adulation of public figures into a form of worship. While this deification of living people, ranging from gurus to politicians, is widespread it is the ritualistic offerings made to movie SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth at the opening of his films that epitomizes of this phenomena in contemporary Tamil culture.

Image: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/variety/superstar-rajinikanth-starrer-annaatthe-releases/article37334723.ece

The Boss is Back 11

The tutelary deity featured in Rajinikanth’s upcoming film Annaatthe is the Grama Deivam (village guardian) Madurai Veeran. Throughout the trailer the Superstar wields the aruval, a south Indian billhook (a cross between a sickle and a machete), which is a weapon in the iconography of Madurai Veeran. According to Preethi Zachariah the aruval is used to clear fields, collect firewood, to crack coconuts, and also in the worship of other Kaval Deivam (tutelary deities) like Karuppu Swamy and Ayyanar.

As happyhindu notes, Madurai Veeran is worshipped in an agricultural context “to ward off disasters affecting crops, cattle, and illnesses.” He is the protector of agricultural people and their lands as, it seems, is Kalaiayyan, Rajinikanth’s avatar in Annaatthe, who rides “a Royal Enfield bike, wearing a helmet and earphones, an aruval dangling from the bike.”

See also

The Boss is Back 9
Rajinikanth’s Political Entry
Thani Vazhi (தனி வழி)
Who is Kaala dada?
Who is Rajinikanth Dada?
Abhimanyu Sir
Thalaivaa!!
Yar Nee Ayah?
Kaala Karikaalan
A Post-Traditional Polity?
Rajinikanth Glows Saffron
Gaikwad cries Jai Bhim

Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyVX8g71TGo&ab_channel=SunTV
https://lifestyle.livemint.com/news/big-story/is-the-thiruppachethi-aruval-a-tool-or-a-weapon-111633679832798.html
https://www.tamilbrahmins.com/members/happyhindu.3407/

The Boss is Back 9

The Annaatthe official trailer is out and it is clear that the avenging aspect of Rajinikanth’s persona is modeled on the fierce Grama Deivam or village deity of non-Brahmanical rural Dravidian theism. In the trailer, as the Superstar threateningly vows to sacrifice his foe to his deity, he is shown in prayer before an icon of Madurai Veera Saamy. Madurai Veeran or Hero of Madurai is said to have been a warrior of low caste who was appointed to high military office in the Pandian empire and then and executed by dismemberment on the order the King in an honour killing for transgressing caste boundaries in his lovemaking. Following this, both Madurai Veeran’s faithful wife and his high caste lover committed suicide. To pacify the spirits of Madurai Veeran and his consorts, the King deified him in a shrine built on the grounds of the great Meenakshi Amman temple.

See also


Rajinikanth’s Political Entry
Thani Vazhi (தனி வழி)
Who is Kaala dada?
Who is Rajinikanth Dada?
Abhimanyu Sir
Thalaivaa!!
Yar Nee Ayah?
Kaala Karikaalan
A Post-Traditional Polity?
Rajinikanth Glows Saffron
Gaikwad cries Jai Bhim

https://www.tamilnadutourism.com/madurai/temples/madurai-veeran.php

https://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/2010/jul/18/the-story-of-madurai-veeran-170895.html

The Boss is Back 8

A Vaa Samy Icon for Rajinkanth devotees!

See also

The Boss is Back 2
Rajinikanth’s Political Entry
Thani Vazhi (தனி வழி)
Who is Kaala dada?
Who is Rajinikanth Dada?
Abhimanyu Sir
Thalaivaa!!
Yar Nee Ayah?
Kaala Karikaalan
A Post-Traditional Polity?
Rajinikanth Glows Saffron
Gaikwad cries Jai Bhim

New Superstar

Mammooty + Rajinikanth | CM Kerela + CM Tamil Nadu

In the sixteenth State legislative assembly elections of Tamil Nadu held on the 6th April 2021, the DMK won the majority of seats and its president M K Stalin, son of previous Chief Minister and DMK patriarch M. Karunanithi, will reportedly be sworn-in as the Chief Minister on May 7.

When Superstar Rajinikanth dropped out of of Tamil Nadu politics in December 2020 on the basis of ill health, he was in effect, acknowledging the impossibility of religious politics in Tamil Nadu. It seems that neither his spiritual politics nor the BJP’s Hindutva, for which he was allegedly a proxy, had a chance of victory in the political milieu of the South.

In the meme pictured above, Rajinikanth’s visage in a still form the Mani Ratnam film Thalapathy has been replaced by that of MK Stalin. This meme also presents Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in the place of Mammooty, who plays Rajinikanth’s friend in the 1991 film.

Both the Dravidian MK Stalin and the Communist Pinarayi Vijayan are avowed atheists.

https://twitter.com/umasudhir/status/1388873470662955013

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/rajinikanth-opts-out-of-political-entry-citing-health-covid/article33443627.ece

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/tamil-nadu/article/dmk-chief-mk-stalin-stakes-claim-to-form-govt-in-tamil-nadu-after-stupendous-victory-in-2021-assembly-polls/753051

https://www.thequint.com/news/politics/rajinikanth-politics-periyar-bjp-rss-gurumurthy-tamil-nadu-elections-2021

.

Rajinikanth Out, BJP Out!

After decades of anticipation in the Tamil Nadu polity, SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth announced his entry into politics on December 31st 2017. Despite much toing and froing since then, he never did launch his party and then, on December 29th 2020, he announced with finality not to enter politics. For those of us who admire his charisma and spirituality but disdain the Hindutva politics he seemed set to bring into Tamil Nadu by virtue of his patent alignment with the BJP, this is a happy outcome! Thailava Valha! (Salutations to the Leader!)

Related Posts –

Makkal Sevai Katchi!
Rajinikanth’s Political Entry
Thani Vazhi (தனி வழி)
Who is Kaala dada?
Who is Rajinikanth Dada?
Abhimanyu Sir
Thalaivaa!!
Yar Nee Ayah?
Kaala Karikaalan
A Post-Traditional Polity?
Rajinikanth Glows Saffron
Gaikwad cries Jai Bhim

The above image from the series was shot at the Singapore Art Museum. It was shot during a performance at the site of my photographic installation which was part of the Singapore Biennale 2016. It is one of 12 images that make up the upcoming Kiasu Cowboys Series of the Koboi Project.

https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/rajinikanth-from-a-definite-announcement-to-the-withdrawal-932965.html

https://www.deccanherald.com/national/south/rajinikanths-decision-to-not-enter-politics-pushes-bjp-back-to-square-one-in-tamil-nadu-932961.html

Rajinikanth’s Political Entry

According to Nikkei Asia staff writer Kiran Sharma Rajinikanth said on the 3rd of December that he will formally announce the launching of his party to compete in the Tamil Nadu state elections on Dec. 31, 2021. This leaves a very short lead time to the start of voting which begins in April 2021. The SUPERSTAR is reported to have said “It’s now or never.” Indeed, time is of the essence! As D Govadran observes in the Times of India, his fans and followers have been waiting for over 24 years.

Related Posts –
Who is Kaala dada?
Who is Rajinikanth Dada?
Rajinikanth Glows Saffron
Gaikwad cries Jai Bhim
Abhimanyu Sir
A Post-Traditional Polity?
Yar Nee Ayah?

In the above image from the Momotaro San series, Takedawala meets Koboi Balik Kampung  in Shinjuku!  I was privileged to be collaborating with Takedawala (Hiroyoshi Takeda) who is an artist, a South Indian chef, and a renown Rajinikanth fan. With his support the performance included an Auto-rickshaw as well as Mango Pachadi Dango, a Japanese dumpling with a South Indian filling, that  was especially conceived and developed for this performance.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Indian-superstar-Rajinikanth-steps-up-to-political-stage

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/rajini-finally-in-politics-promises-miracles/articleshow/79557182.cms

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/meet-japans-dancing-maharaja/article19484100.ece

5 Rajinikanth

Keling Maya: Post-traditional Media, Malaysian Cyberspace and Me, presented at the Aliran Semasa Symposium, 2013, at the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.

Please Note: In this video the Japanese term ‘Dochakuka’ is mispronounced ‘Dochakaku.’

0 Performance
1 Keling Maya
2 Cyberspace
3 Model
4 Heterotopia
6 Heroes
7 Telinga Keling
8 Keling Babi
9 Duchamp
10 MGG Pillai
11 Pantun
12 Praxis
13 Dochakuka
14 Post-tradition
15 Philosophia Perennis

1 SUPERSTAR

1 SUPERSTAR, Kedualan Si Koboi, 2015

The second series of the Koboi Project includes an image of Koboi standing before his alter ego, SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth. This image was shot in Penang in 2013. This series which is titled Kedualan Si Koboi, was published in 2015.

My essay contextualizing this project, titled The Koboi Project: diasporic Artist… diasporic Art, is included in Interlaced Journey: Diaspora and the Contemporary in Southeast Asian Art edited by Patrick D. Flores & Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani.