Rajinikanth’s Jailer set for Aug 10 release: Why it's such a big film for Tamil superstar
Rajinikanth is undeniably the longest surviving superstar in the country. No other film by an actor in their 70s continues to generate some much hype before its release and goes on to do remarkable business (netting more than ₹150 crore).
He still plays the main lead in his films, not having graduated really to sporting a white beard and playing roles that his age may demand. And, he dominates the silver screen despite many young stars in the market. However, in the recent years, the situation has not been great for Rajinikanth. His last bonafide hit in Tamil was ‘Petta’ (2019) after which, he delivered back-to-back box-office duds – ‘Darbar’ and ‘Annaatthe’.
Those who closely follow Rajinikanth’s career clearly know that he is not just an actor but also a man well-versed in the film business. From the 1990s to 2010, Rajini made sure to package his films in such a way he remained the numero uno star in the South film industry. However, over the past decade, the tide has turned and his choice of films is not working in his favour. Some of his calculations have gone terribly wrong.
Meanwhile, Rajinikanth’s professional rival and close friend Kamal Haasan made a stunning comeback with ‘Vikram’, putting him back in the numbers game. ‘Vikram’ made more than ₹430 crore at the box-office and was declared a massive blockbuster in all regions as the distributors and exhibitors ostensibly made phenomenal profits. While, according to industry sources, Rajinikanth’s 2018 mega grosser (also Tamil cinema’s highest grosser that year) ‘2.0’ reportedly failed to fetch profits for the producers.
Besides Kamal Haasan’s fiery comeback at the box-office, the next-generation big Tamil star Vijay seems to be ruling the box-office with his market continuing to grow (‘Leo’s pre-release business is the highest ever for a Tamil film) in the tier 1 category. Apart from Vijay and Kamal, Ajith is also scoring above Rajinikanth in the Tamil Nadu market, so the superstar desperately needs to deliver with his upcoming film ‘Jailer’ directed by Nelson Dilpkumar.
The lure of multi-starrers
Industry sources say that when work on ‘Jailer’ began it was a solo hero film. However, after understanding the box-office potential of multi-starrers with Kamal’s ‘Vikram’, Rajinikanth and Nelson worked on the idea of roping in Malayalam superstar Mohanlal and Kannada cinema’s leading star Shiva Rajkumar to play special appearances in their film.
The sources also add that while Rajinikanth himself is a big star in Kannada and Malayalam cinema, Mohanlal and Shiva Rajkumar’s presence in ‘Jailer’ have increased the business value of the film in these two markets.
The film’s Karnataka distributor Venkatesh of AV Media says, “I believe that ‘Jailer’ will be one of the biggest multi-starrers like ‘Vikram’. The film has an ensemble of actors like superstar Rajinikanth, Tamannaah Bhatia, Ramya Krishnan, Mohanlal, Shiva Rajkumar, Jackie Shroff, Sunil, Yogi Babu, Vasanth Ravi and Redin Kingsley, and so, everyone in the trade is excited. Also, there is no big competition to ‘Jailer’ when it releases in the South except for Chiranjeevi’s ‘Bholaa Shankar’.”
A lot riding on ‘Jailer’
Though Venkatesh is tight-lipped about the Karnataka rights, sources tell The Federal that the film was sold for a double-digit (in crores) figure. In Kerala, ‘Jailer’ will be released by market leader Sree Gokulam Movies, while Asian Cinemas is leading the race to procure the Telugu rights of the biggie.
Other than Rajinikanth, ‘Jailer’ is also a make-or-break film for director Nelson because although his previous ‘Beast‘ was a commercially safe venture for Sun Pictures, it was panned by critics.
To avoid any leakage of information, the entire post-production of ‘Jailer’ is happening in Mumbai, says an industry source.
Rajnikanth takes care with upcoming projects
Rajinikanth wants to prove that he still has it in him to shake up the box-office and is being extra cautious about his upcoming projects. While he is only playing an extended cameo in ‘Lal Salaam’, which is being directed by his daughter Aishwarya, he has also agreed to act in ‘Jai Bhim’ director TJ Gnanavel’s next.
Industry sources reveal that after 32 years, good friend ‘Big B’ Amitabh Bachan will share screen space with Rajinikanth in Gnanavel’s film, which will be bankrolled by Lyca Productions. Earlier, Chiyaan Vikram was supposed to play Amitabh’s role but for some reason, he couldn’t accept the film.
Rajinikanth believes that today audiences expect more than one star in a film and has asked filmmakers to sketch interesting characters, which gives scope for a number of big stars to share screen space with him in his films.
As a matter of fact, Rajinikanth himself expressed interest to work with leading filmmaker Lokesh Kanagaj, whose successes include multi-starrers after ‘Master’ and ‘Vikram’. Sun Pictures is likely to bankroll Rajinikanth’s film with Lokesh and a leading south actor will also play an important role in the biggie, say sources.
Sources add that after Lokesh’s film, Rajinikanth is likely to bid adieu to films. It will be one of the costliest films in his career, involving some of the biggest names in the industry,
While ‘Jailer’ is scheduled to release on August 11, Gnanavel’s film is likely to release in 2024. Lokesh’s film will begin in the middle of next year.