RAJNIKANT – THE TAMIL TITAN
Who is Rajnikant?
Unveiling the Anti-Heroic Mask
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Ó K. Hariharan 2009
Rajnikant is an incredible phenomenon who has stunned the Tamil screen so hard that you almost tend to believe that there has never been anybody like him in the history of Indian Cinema so far! Yet, if you pick and choose any film randomly among his 150 odd movies like ‘Manithan’, ‘Maveeran’ or ‘Mannan’ chances are that it will be badly shot, poorly crafted, containing kitschy sets and absurdly choreographed stunt sequences. Yet, what transformed so many of them into silver jubilee hits?
What motivated the hundreds of his fans associations to be so devotedly busy? How is it that producers managed to make at least 6 films each year with him from 1980 to 1995? The answer is simple - the amazing presence of this one man army, Rajnikant. At the same time, I am more or less sure that he had very sketchy ideas about the kind of scripts that were being written for him. He was just destined to be the lucky god, happy to be amidst the right devotees in the right place at the right time!
K. Hariharan A student of Film Direction from the Film & TV Institute of India, Pune (batch of 1976) after completing a graduation in Commerce and Business Management from Bombay University in 1973. Later settled down in Chennai to make 7 feature films, which include ‘Ghashiram Kotwal’ (1978), a film in Marathi which was screened at the Berlin, Edinburgh and Valladolid film festivals. “Ezhavathu Manithan’ (The 7th Man), the next film in Tamil got the national award for the best Tamil film in 1982 and the Afro-Asian Solidarity Award at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1983. In 1992 the Hindi film entitled ‘Current’ starring Om Puri and Deepti Naval got the best critics award that year. Between these films, directed 3 films for the Children’s Film Society of India; ‘Wanted Thangaraj’ in 1979, ‘Crocodile Boy’ in 1986, and ‘Dubhashi’ (The Translator) in 1999. Has also been concentrating on a lot of documentary and educational films as an independent filmmaker. This includes ‘Take a Break with Hugh & Colleen Gantzer’- a 26 part Travel series; a 26 part educational series called ‘Understanding Cinema’, and a long dramatic series on the Bhakti poets of south India called ‘Maale Manivanna’. Teaching on film production & cinema studies has been an equally important passion.
Regularly visiting faculty at the University of Pennsylvania since 1995 in the South Asia Regional Studies department teaching two courses titled ‘Indian Cinema & Society’ and the ‘Cinema of Satyajit Ray’. Guest faculty at the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and at the Film & TV Institute in Pune, India, the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. The new LV Prasad Film & TV Academy is an ambitious and pioneering project of the Prasad Group, Asia’s largest post production house. As the Director of the Academy, he is responsible for training students through a 2 year program to become competent Filmmakers and Television producers and technicians. In active collaboration with Arcadia University, USA, the larger objective is to create filmmakers with a holistic vision of Cinema & as an extension of the study of Liberal Arts. And of course happily married to Rama, a Homeopathic doctor and father of Anjali, also a Homeopathic doctor and Vivek an engineering post-graduate student