© Provided by India Today After a decade-long interval, Tamil cinema’s biggest stars Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth came face-to-face on Wednesday (September 17), when they offered a sneak peek of their upcoming ventures.
Yesterday evening, when the trailer of Kamal Haasan’s Thoongavanam and the first look posters of the Rajinikanth-starrer Kabali were released, and when their makers decided to do so without much gap in between, the Twitterati had a tough time deciding, working towards and checking out which one of the two movies trended on social media.
Initially, Thoongavanam began trending on Twitter only to give way to Rajnikanth’s Kabali, after the poster of the latter was unveiled late in the evening. Like most occasions, Rajinikanth and his fans won this battle of numbers.
According to trends24.in, Kabali held the top spot on Twitter trends for seven hours, while Kamal Haasan’s flick managed to trend for three hours, less than half that of Rajinikanth. The actors’ fans, with a mission on their fingers, were busy tweeting.
This rivalry isn’t a recent phenomenon, though. Fans of both the stars had fought a familiar battle, but on an unfamiliar ground earlier. Back then, when it was not only about ‘trending on Twitter’, things were a lot more complicated for movie buffs. Unlike now, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth fans would have never had ‘felt-accomplished’ or ‘faded-away-disappointed’ feelings (or vice versa) within minutes of the release of a film, trailer or first look posters.
The first looks of a film during those days were the stars’ first appearance on screen. It would take a minimum of 180 minutes to decide which one of them was trending. And the messages, which were mostly word-of-mouth, had to travel across the fan fraternity, before the fans arrived at a conclusion.
The intensity with which the fans cherished and advocated for the two men still remains unmatched.
Thalapathi vs Guna
The fervour of the two movies peaked on Diwali 1991. The movie halls were overflowing, quite literally. First darshans were only for the privileged – the fan club members.
Rajinikanth’s portrayal as a loyal friend in the Thalapathi made no damage to his personal image. It was the first time Mani Ratnam and the superstar had come together and the end product was a tightly-made commercial entertainer. The superstar’s fans were overboard in approval of the film. The investors were happy. After all, it was Rajni, and this one was special as it had the Ratnam’s touch.
On the other hand, Kamal played a lunatic in Guna, which was a romantic thriller. Directed by his friend Santhana Bharathi, the film had a never-seen-before storyline, where the protagonist falls for a goddess. The film was received well critically, but failed to bring profits to the makers. Nevertheless, the movie is regarded as one of Kamal Haasan’s best outings.
Devar Magan vs Pandiyan
Skip a year, and it was Diwali in 1992 when the two superstars clashed at the box office again. Kamal’s Devar Magan and Rajini’s Pandiyan hit the screens simultaneously.
Kamal Haasan and his fans won the battle that year as Devar Magan started creating instant impressions. Pairing up with veteran actor Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal played the role of the son of a village head who sticks to his roots and tries knocking sense into his people’s minds after communal riots affect his personal aspirations. The film went on to win a National Award and was India’s official entry to the Oscars.
On the other hand, Rajinikanth, after a series of winners in the previous year (Thalapathi, Mannan, Annamalai, Yejaman) failed to ignite the box office with Pandiyan. The SP Muthuraman directorial was an underwhelming flick with a few surprises for the fans in the end.
And when comparisons cropped up, Kamal Haasan emerged as the clear winner.
Chandramukhi vs Mumbai Express
Chandramukhi and Mumbai Express were the last two films of the veterans to release simultaneously. Rajinikanth’s film went on to create several box office records as his fans were treated to some typical Rajinikanth-stuff with a mix of neatly presented horror.
Chandramukhi was the comeback vehicle for Rajini after a series of box office duds, Baba being the prominent among them. The film fraternity was happy when Rajinikanth did what he was good at with near perfection. But, Kamal’s Mumbai Express didn’t live up to the hype. Even with seasoned actors among the cast, the comedy failed to garner attention and was overshadowed by Chandramukhi.
The Tamil audience hasn’t witnessed any such duels since April 2005, when Chandramukhi and Mumbai Express hit the screens together. And there will be no such battles in the future too, as the filmmakers and the stars themselves realised the undesirable effects of such same-day releases.
In an interview to IANS, Kamal Haasan had said, “Rajini and I used to release our films almost every Friday in the 1980s, but not anymore. Today, we have slowed down, not because of our age, but because of budget constraints. We can’t afford to have the release of our big budget films on the same day.”
Nonetheless, a one-minute-and-thirty-six second trailer and two first look posters were enough for fans to take a trip down memory lane.
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Take a look at what went down at the trailer launch of ‘Thoongaavanam’ in the gallery below: