Aurora takes a break to deck up for Rajnikanth one last time

What would you call a theatre owner who shuts shop for “renovation” when Bollywood’s biggest blockbuster Dabangg hits the single-screens? Naïve?

What would you call a theatre owner who shuts shop for “renovation” when Bollywood’s biggest blockbuster Dabangg hits the single-screens? Naïve?

“A Rajnikanth fan,” replies Nambi Rajan,owner of Matunga’s Aurora cinema hall,as he supervises its makeover with his single-screen gearing up for the latest Rajnikanth movie,Endhiran in Tamil and Telugu,Robot in Hindi.

The walls are being given a fresh coat of paint,the 1942 wooden interior artwork’s been polished,the torn seats stitched,water dents in the roof plastered ,the sound acoustics replugged.

Rajnikanth is nothing less than a festival,” says Rajan whose distribution network Ganesh Films has now bought the rights for the Tamil and Telugu titles for “northern India”,meaning all states apart from the four in the South.

All this is “one last extravaganza” before the southern cinema landmark gets demolished at the end of the year,making way for a multiplex if negotiations work. “I have spent over Rs 5 lakh already. Some work will be pending,but overall the auditorium is going to thunder when Rajnikanth appears,” he says.

“He is next to God,” he describes his idol,but says that is only because Rajnikanth is “down to earth”. In 2007,when Sivaji released,a family that had seen it in a multiplex turned up for a second viewing at Aurora and told him: “Ange andha feel kadaykaley (we did not get that feel there)”. An IT company from Pune booked for the entire office,the manager yelling on the phone,“We want to see Rajnikanth inside Aurora.”

Among the fans Rajan has seen over the years,some have slept outside the theatre days in advance,with no money for food but just enough for a ticket. “Once a boy,disabled from the waist down,took ages to cross Matunga bus stop and reach the theatre. He would not go home because of the time it would take him to return the next day. We gave him a free ticket,put him in a taxi,and gave him enough money to return the next day. Fans make movies. We have given free tickets to many fans. It pinches,but I know how it is to be a Rajnikanth fan,” says Rajan,who advises women not to come the first day.

In the 1980s,when he got the rights for Thalapathi,the tickets at all the city’s theatres “were gone in 10 minutes”. “No other hero can make grown men behave that way. For one last time,I want to give Rajnikanth fans that perfect ambience where they can worship him. Let’s just say that any Tamilian who speaks Tamil is a Rajni fan and he is their Talaiwar (leader),” he says.

“For the rest,his style is enough. You never hear his dialogue anyway,as fans are jumping,screaming and sometimes tearing chairs.”

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