Thalaiva…just 8 letters, but this name packs a punch for fans all around the world. July 22nd 2016 will surely be etched in history, as the day South of India and some cities abroad too, came to a standstill with the release of Thalaiva’s movie, Kabali. Companies declared holiday to avoid the burden of excuses their employees would pull out to skip work to watch Thaliava’s movie; tickets are being booked by Minister’s PAs by sending special request letters to movie hall owners; and life size posters are being given milk bath despite Thaliva’s earnest request to refrain.
Thalaiva…that’s Rajnikant for you, a demigod of sorts, one of the most revered actors of all time in India. His USP could be anything, from his larger than life persona in reel life, to his charity work in real life, or just that his movies have that magic that makes the audience go ummm!
So, how did the Rajni phenomena evolve?
Born in 1950, fourth child of his parents, Rajnikanth lost his mother at a very young age. He did many odd jobs to survive, like that of a coolie and a carpenter. His last before he joined the regional film industry was that of a bus conductor in Karnataka state transport corporation. Performing stage plays simultaneously helped him nurture his acting skills. It’s been 25 years and Rajni hasn’t looked back. He even dabbled in a few Hindi moves, tasted both success and failure there, and realised that south Indian film industry is where he belongs. His movies are now dubbed in multiple languages and released in screens pan India across many countries simultaneously, to cater to the appetite of his ever growing legion of fans. His successful movies include Enthiran and Chandramukhi, the former a sci-fi, the latter a horror. His movies collect a cool Rs.1 billion in very short durations.
Business of Kabali
With Kabali, Rajnikanth has allegedly pocketed multi - crores even before the release date. Air Asia has plastered its one airline with Kabali poster. This is a promotional coup d’etat for the airline that has been apparently featured in the movie as well. Air Asia went further and announced special Kabali airfares. Kabali has since then tied up with many brands. FMCG major Emami is Kabali’s brand partner to capture the cultural relevance of southern India market with its product Fair and Handsome. The movie makers have cashed in on Rajnikanth’s superstar status with multiple tie ups with brands like Muthoot Finance, VS Hospitals, Airtel, and Cadbury. Amazon and PVR cinemas have the exclusive rights to sell Kabali merchandise including Rajni dolls. All of this monetarily adds up to more than 40 crores in just brand value. The movie will itself cross Rs. 500 crores, leaving all investors and brand partners laughing their way to the bank.
Interestingly, Shivaji Rao Gaekwad aka Rajnikanth, our Thalaiva, does not endorse any brand!
- Ms. Monica Mor
Sr. Faculty, INLEAD