The bus conductor on Route 10A that plied between Srinagar and Majestic in Bangalore, during the bell bottom days, is now 63 something. He’s the age-defying god of gods with over 170 films under his belt. Just the other day, he announced his umpteenth project titled ‘Lingaa’ looking not a day older than forty with a macho moustache attesting to his to virility. Apparently a nod to his grandson (Dhanush has two boys: Linga and Yatra), the title got me thinking about the Shaivite streak in Rajinikanth movies.
Kochadaiiyaan, the motion capture animation flick directed by his daughter Soundarya, is but a synonym of the matted god aka Lord Shiva. If one looks back, Annamalai and Arunachalam have a direct Thiruvannamalai connection that seems quite obvious. Beyond that I couldn’t find any direct evidence to back my hypothesis. Sivaji, the Shankar film, apparently flows from his birth name Shivaji Rao Gaikwad.
But if one probes deeper, the superstar’s spiritual side shows enough manifestations from the late eighties. In Mappillai, he played the role of a character named ‘Aarumugam’ (the man with six faces – a reference to Lord Muruga). Then came Padayappa (the General of six armies) which was again an allusion to the son of Shiva. Coincidentally, in Chandramukhi, Rajini went by the moniker ‘Dr. Saravanan’.
To give due credit to the man, he made his religious leanings well known by hand picking the tales Sri Raghavendra and Baba. Curiously, the name most often sported by Rajinikanth on silver screen is ‘Kali’. First portrayed in Mullum Malarum, Kali made a reappearance in various forms in Murattu Kaalai, Kai Kodukkum Kai, Kaali and Adhisiya Piravi.
Lest you wrongly accuse him of being a militant saffronite, let me clarify that some of the best known Christian character names in Tamil Cinema were played by Rajini - right from ‘Johnny’, ‘Alex Pandian’ to ‘Michael – a true Christian’. Even the best known Muslim character in Kollywood - Baasha - was thalaivar’s.
Having made his debut as the rapist ‘Kondaji’, and after essaying baddies such as ‘Parattai’ and ‘Abaswaram’, Rajinikanth must have had the last laugh when he effortlessly slipped into the role of Inspector Arjun Ramojirao Shivajirao Gaikwad Jagdish Mulk Tange in Farishtay. In true Rajini style, he must have quipped, ‘Idhu, eppidi irukku’!