22 April 2005
CHENNAI: A monk, a Buddhist one at that, is all spiritual? Completely detached from worldly affairs? Certainly turning his back on the silver screen?
Perish the thought. For here comes Hase Kawa from Osaka, a die-hard fan of superstar Rajnikanth and who has come all the way from Japan to watch Chandramukhi.
The medium-built but broad-shouldered Kawa, clad in a T-shirt and jeans, says airily: ‘‘He’s a fantastic hero. He sweeps us all off our feet. What if I’m a monk, I enjoy his films, and I am willing to go to the other end of the world to watch them...And so are my friends here with me...’’
Ever since ‘Muthu’ hit the Japanese theatres a decade ago, Kawa had actually travelled to Chennai at least eight times to watch as many Rajni films as possible and hopefully meet him too. He has not succeeded so far. But that would not deter him from coming here.
A rendezvous with their idol, even if they have to content themselves with seeing him on the screen, is still a cherished moment for them.
The five flew in on the eve of the release of ‘Chandramukhi’. Well, on the opening day, they didn’t exactly succeed in their efforts to get tickets.
They moved from one theatre to another, but to no effect. Only ‘Houseful’ boards greeted them everywhere. Even the ever-trustworthy black market let them down badly. There was no ticket on the offer anywhere.
When this reporter caught up with them in the afternoon, they were a bit downcast.
‘‘We didn’t want to wait till the film is released there. Hence we flew in, but no luck....Oh what efforts we had taken...What excuses we had offered to get away...Hmm,’’ the five sighed longingly. But as they sat sipping their tea in a restaurant, a local contact of their came running to them, all excitement. Of course he was waving a bunch of tickets, and they all broke out in unison, ‘‘Hurrah.’’ Yeah, they would now see their favourite hero’s film the next city. The rendezvous had only been postponed.
Miyura, a software engineer, had told his office back in Osaka in Japan that he had a family errand to attend to in India. Swinging to Rajini’s evergreen hit ‘Autokkaaran’ from ‘Basha’, played in the hotel, he said, ‘‘You see, I have come with a lot of expectation just to watch our hero’s film. I am sure he will not disappoint me.’’ Sima, a film critic in the group, explained: ‘‘People over there like his frillless, simple, straight acting. They indeed find him better than even Hollywood heroes, refreshingly different from the flock they are used to. Ever since ‘Muthu’ was released as an experimental measure in the nineties, believe me he has become a rage, among different sections…there are eight fan clubs for him in our country...’’
Oonishi, a fashion designer, displaying a childlike glee with her saree ‘pallu,’ carrying Rajnikanth’s image and the ‘Chandramukhi’ title, said in broken Tamil: ‘‘ I do not know any language other than Japanese. But I have been learning Tamil for the last few months just to watch Rajni movies.’’
She went on to sing a few snatches of ‘Devuda Devuda’ from ‘Chandramukhi’. ‘‘I cannot wait to watch the movie, I bet it will be a hit.’’
Pressed further on what she found in the actor so fascinating, Oonishi gushed: ‘‘Oh, what else but style. So much élan and such agility in his movements. He simply throbs with life..,’’ she said, adding with a blush ‘‘He is sooo sexy.’’
One look at them would suffice to make you understand that they had gone gaga with the Tamil superstar. Be it their bracelet, chain, T-shirt, everything about them seemed to bear the legend ‘Chandramukhi’ or Rajni’s face. ‘‘We will keep shopping for more and more memorabilia,’’ they declared while flaunting their ‘Chandramukhi’ badges too. Construction contractor, Kuwa Bara said: ‘‘I have a collection of his film DVDs and now I have come here to watch the movie in a theatre for that unique experience.’’
They had met each other through Subramaniam, a Tamil, running a restaurant in Osaka. He explains: ‘‘I had posted details about ‘Chandramukhi’ on the Internet and these people came rushing to me pressing me for an opportunity to watch it here in Tamil Nadu, fresh from the oven, as it were...and so I’ve brought them here.’’
Incidentally, Subramaniam, who also teaches Tamil in Japan, disclosed that many people over there were actually learning the language just to be able to follow better Rajni’s films and enjoy them more. And the last word should go to the monk of course. Asked whether he would pray for the new film’s success, Hase Kawa retorted, almost impatiently: ‘‘I don’t have to. You see, he has some special spiritual powers and that will ensure the film’s success.’’ Amen.