Superstar Rajinikanth who always appeared in negative roles, right from his debut in K. Balachander’s Tamil drama ‘Apoorva Raagangal’, had a change from villain to the hero before 38 years, from when he got the name ’Superstar’. ‘Bairavi’ released in 1978 was the first Tamil film to cast Rajinikanth as the main hero. This film was directed by M.Bhaskar. It was in the same year and through the same film that Kalaipuli S. Thanu entered the field of distribution. He was the distributor of ’Bairavi’ in Chennai.
All were completely perplexed before the release of the film in which a villain was becoming a hero for the first time. They had to find some way to attract people to theatres. S. Thanu checked the photos which were given to him for the promotional purposes. He was impressed by the photos. He has never seen any heroes with such looks in Tamil Cinema. So he decided to do something special with this.
The first thing he did was change the regular size of the film posters. 4 sheet 60×80 format was being used for posters at that time. He changed it into a bigger 6 sheet 60×120 format. These posters appeared all around Chennai. He did one more thing to attract people’s attraction. He transformed the villain Rajanikanth to ’Superstar Rajinikanth’. It was in front of Chennai Plaza theatre he placed 38 feet cut out of Rajanikanth with ’Superstar Rajani in Bairavi’ written below it.
- Thanu didn’t do all this just to make Rajanikanth a Superstar. Along with it he had something else as his aim ; make a place for himself in the field of distribution.
‘Great posters and greater publicity’ said Rajanikanth when he met Thanu during the preview of the film but after two days M. Bhaskar approached Thanu with a doubt from Rajanikanth. Even though old, MGR and Sivaji Ganeshan was still Tamil Nadu’s superstars at that time. How can a 28-year-old guy like him become a ’Superstar’ by appearing as a heroe in just one film? This was Rajani’s doubt.
Thanu agreed with him and promised to remove the cutouts but new posters came out like this ‘The greatest Superstar Rajinikanth in Bairavi’. Things didn’t end with this. The film was a hit. Posters were sent to Banglore in a large scale. The aim was to let everyone there know that a guy who was a bus conductor in Banglore Transport service has become a Superstar.
‘I have never seen a guy as stylish a Rajinikanth in my life’ says Thanu. This made him predict the future of Rajani as a superstar. His predictions didn’t go in vain. Rajinikanth became the Superstar of Tamil. Thanu rose to the state of a well-known distributor. He changed his track in 1985 from a distributor to a Producer through ‘Yaar?’ . His latest project is with his ‘Thalaivar’ the much-awaited movie of this year ‘Kabali’.