For many people down South, Rajinikanth isn't just an actor. He is a source of inspiration, a reason to live, pretty much like his films. His craze across south is unlike any the world has ever seen and the frenzy around his film tells the story better than any words can-- as if people already know they are going to witness something that would go down in history.
From Kollywood to Bollywood to even Hollywood, the man has done it all. The beloved star had a humble beginning as a bus conductor in Karnataka. He stepped into the world of cinema in 1975 with K Balachander's Apoorva Ragangal. Initially, he mainly portrayed antagonistic characters. Till 1990, he had starred in multiple roles for Tamil, Kannada and Hindi cinema. The year 1978 saw him take on the title of 'Superstar'.
The idea of a massive fan following is quite common to Indian cinema but when it comes to Rajini, there's only one word to describe how fans treat him - God. From setting up 'larger than life' banners, with fans pouring milk over his posters, Rajini's mojo is unbeatable.
— Rajini in the Sky
In 2016, Air Asia re-branded their flight and came up with the 'Thalaivar aircraft', featuring the superstar in all his might and glory. Bearing an image from his film Kabali, the airline dedicated this move to the star and his fans. It didn't just end there. The airline announced their 'Fly Like a Superstar' promotion and dished out the 'Kabali Biryanis' to its passengers. They also flew passengers from Bengaluru to Chennai for a special premiere.
— Kabali Fever
The Kabali craze grew to such proportions that people actually sent leave applications saying they want to watch the movie. A company named Fyndus even declared a holiday on July 22 for fans to enjoy their star on-screen. They also provided free movie tickets to its employees.
— Give Your Vehicle a Thailavar Makeover
Lamborghinis are a rarity on any roads. Even rarer, is one with Thalaivar decals.
— A Mobile Hairstylist on a 'Rajini' Mission
'Rajini' Devaraj is a hairdresser in Coimbatore who has embarked on a mission to tend to clients who can't afford a haircut. Vagabonds, beggars, slum dwellers, and all others who are ignored by the society, form his major clientele. What's special about him is his mobile salon – A bike that bears the image of his inspiration, Rajini. He's not just a fan of the actor but has decided to turn it into a part of his life with every haircut.