Like our Thailavar Tun Dr Mahathir, I too am back (in a much more modest way of course!) I AM BACK IN JAPAN after about 20 years .. On my first trip in 1998, I saw our Rajinikanth beaming down at me from a cinema hoarding .. and thus was the seed sown that has flowered into the Koboi Balik Kampung roadshow that I am now taking round the world! I used to be a regular visiter to Japan in the late 1990’s under the auspices of the Japan Foundation and the Fukuoka Art Museum and I am really happy to be back here for Cowboys and Indians: Tokyo Edition. Please come … all are welcome!
Courtyard HIROO : 7pm 11th May 2018
4-21-2 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0031 JAPAN
Tel. +81-3-6427-1185 firstname.lastname@example.org
On December 31st 2017 SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth confirmed his entry into Tamil Nadu Politics by announcing that he would launch a new political party before the next assembly election in the state. Growing up as a Tamil in Malaysia in the 1970’s, although I was not a film fan, I was aware of Rajnikanth’s significance as an identity pioneer. Up till his arrival on the scene, the dark skinned audiences of Tamil cinema had perversely preferred their leading men pale-faced and all powdered up. Rajnikanth had changed all that and gone on to become the biggest box office draw in Indian cinema. Later in my life, as my children were growing up in Kuching, Sarawak far from my parents and any significant Tamil influences, I went looking for Tamil media to fill the lack. I found a copy of Rajnikanth’s 1995 release, Muthu at the local night-market and to my delight, my girls loved it. What’s more, I found that I loved Muthu too.
On a visit to Tokyo at around this time, I was greeted by a billboard image of Rajinikanth. ‘Muthu’ or ‘Dancing Maharaja’ as the film was titled for its Japanese release, had become a box-office sensation in Japan. This was a rare example of an idiomatic local cultural product becoming a cross-over success without any mitigation of its sharp flavors. To the contrary, Japanese fans now learn Tamil to follow their SUPERSTAR in his own idiom. Against the grain of an era of global marketing and dochakuka in which the global products are varied, adapted and ‘localized’ for specific markets, Rajinikanth appears to have successfully projected an untempered idiomatic expression into a culturally distinct market and milieu. I recognized in this phenomena a signifier for the antithesis of the homogenization that was taking hold in the all global arenas, including that of contemporary art.