Kabali, a new film by Asia’s highest paid Indian actor has earned more than $US13 million US in the three days since its release.
The gangster action drama has been released in five languages on thousands of screens around the world, including in the United States, Britain, China, Malaysia and Japan.
In India hundreds of thousands of fans are flocking to cinemas. Jasvinder Sehgal reports on the madness.
At Balaji theatre in the southern city of Bangalore, fans of Indian actor Rajanikanth are rejoicing and celebrating the first day of the release of his film, Kabali.
Among them is 42-year-old Rajendran Mahadevan.
As a Hindu ritual he pours milk on the poster of his favorite hero and covers it in flowers as a way of wishing the film huge success.
“It is just like celebrating a festival. For us today it is just like celebrating the festival of Navratra, Divali and Ganapati. In fact we are happier today than when we are at festivals,” Mahadevan tells me.
Set in Malaysia, in the film Rajanikanth plays Kabaleeswaran, a former Indian trade union leader turned gangster who took up the cause of south Indian workers being oppressed in a foreign land.
Mahadevan says he loves the charisma and style of his favorite actor, and can easily roll of a few of his favorite lines.
“We love his films. Although he is 66 years old now, his unique style continues. I love his dialogue,” Mahadevan gushes.
At the theatre many others have shaved their heads and distributed sweets as a gesture of good luck to mark the release of the film.
In the history of Indian cinema it was for the first time that the first show of the film commenced at 3 AM, early in the morning.
As the film starts the audience jumps from their seats and dances in the aisles at the sight of their beloved hero.
Many have traveled from outside the city, people like young aspiring actor Lokayan Sahni, who has come more than 600 miles from Mumbai.
All that even though he doesn’t understand Tamil, the original language of the film.
“I don’t understand too much the south Indian languages. But it’s worth watching to see Rajasnikanth sir acting,” believes Sahni.
“He is not only an actor but a superstar and like a God for millions. The way he walks, talks and acts. Aspiring actors like me can learn a lot from him.”
Sahni says the excitement and frenzy that surrounds the film isn’t confined to the cinemas.
“Rajani is just like a God to many. I have seen people wearing t-shirts printed with his photo. And many have developed a grey beard like him. Even tuk-tuks and cars are painted with his posters.”
Many private companies have given their employees the day off to enable them to catch the film on its first day, while some parents have their kept children out of school to enjoy the festive mood.
India’s post and telegraph department has released a special postal cover to mark the release.
But there are a few who say that the craze of the movie will be short lived.
Mrs. Rekha Shrama is a film critic from Mumbai.
“The hype of the film is strategically planned and is a marketing technique. As a few films with the actor failed at the box office so this might be a reason for building the craze, says Shrama.
“In India it’s a natural phenomenon of idolizing movie actors. Definitely, Rajanikanth’s popularity is immense especially in southern India and the film’s opening collection is also breaking records but this will not continue in the future,” Shrama continued.
India's movie industry is the biggest in the world, producing more than 1,600 new films a year in more than 20 local languages.
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