The BOSS pattern

Popular blogger makes a post on a sensitive current issue.

We’ve seen that.

487 (when I saw it) fellow bloggers respond.

We’ve seen that too.

485 of them misunderstand the post.

Oh yes. Sounds familiar.

Out of that lot, 400 assume the author’s intentions and respond violently to statements that the author never made in his post.

Ahan. Oh yes. Seen that.

So in the interest of brevity and pointless generalization, I am going to call this the BOSS pattern, a very Indian behavorial trait where readers mostly miss the point and aggressively search for potential insults to one’s language/religion/films/culture. The pattern also ultimately results in the author’s question not beind addressed at all. By the 400th comment, the discussion has mostly veered in the general direction of the canines.

So, what did our sample author really want to know?

Explain the Rajini phenomenon. How does a single man’s mannerisms, stunts and gimmickry sustain a movie? Why is a man with such limited acting talent more popular than somebody like Kamal Hassan.

And this, is my response.

I have no clue. But, since I am in the business of showing jilpa, it is my solemn duty to try anyway.

Rajini is not an actor. He is the Tamil collective conscious. He is the symbol of most of our fantasies and he makes them come true on the silver screen. What’s more, he is an ordinary looking, shy, tongue-tied human being who metamorphoses into this stylish icon who, for the 150 minutes in the theatre, trasforms us all into heroes. He is what all of us believe we can be. His patent ordinariness only enhances our hopes. He is not even of Tamil origin, and that adds to his pan-dimensional appeal, because when we see Rajini, we don’t bother with narrow district level, language and caste level identities. His non-Tamilness gives us a sense of universality. Of course, he is not of Amithabh or Kamal’s calibre when it comes to acting. But we are not talking about acting here. One will not understand Rajini unless one moves past the definition of cinema as merely being an art form. Rajini’s cinema is the collective Tamil dream. Of course, it’s often times corny and childish. Dreams often are. But it’s not accurate descriptions of reality that we (rajini fans) as an audience seek out. Kamal and Amitabh are artistes. Rajini is an icon. Rajini plays out my fantasies. And he is just like me – an ordinary, not so good looking and not so intellectual layman. And the reason a lot of us react so immaturely when somebody criticizes him is that we take it to be a insult on ourselves. Kamal is so beyond us in looks and talent. But when Rajini makes his appearance on screen, every viewer sees himself manifested in him. That, is what all the hysteria is about.

I could, of course, be totally blathering, but blather is what this blog is about.

Oh. Might as well pimp technorati when the going’s good.

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15 Comments

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  1. I agree.

    Rajinikanth is all about reaching the masses. He addresses a lot of social issues(astrology, corruption, black-white issues etc.) in his movies(except maybe baba) in a way which even a guy on the street will understand. Do you think a Kamal Hassan type “Anbe Sivan” would appeal to somebody like that ?

  2. Ashok,

    Thanks. I do understand what you are trying to say–I think 20 years back Amitabh similarly reflected the fantasies of the ”common man”. Maybe the change is because now Bollywood mainly makes movies for the NRI’s or the yuppie generation–its quite an interesting post-globalization change.

    I appreciate your understanding of the purpose behind the post.

    And Kamal Hassan rocks!

  3. Confused,

    Agree. I think the key difference is the accessibility of Rajini as a common human being. Amitabh, on the other hand, was a superstar in real life as well and even dabbled in politics. Rajini keeps a very low-key, down to earth approach outside his film life.

    There is also another dimension here. NRI Tamilians are sociologically different from say, Punjabi or Gujrati NRIs. This is probably an incorrect generalization, but NRI Tamilians are not easily Americanized or Europeanized. They tend to stick very tightly to their notion of what they consider “roots”. This is not to say that other Indians dont, but there is simply a different level of synthesis and fusion in those cultures than in south indian NRIs.

  4. Very good post. Back here in Mangalore most of the people like to watch Tamil movies. Rajini’s movies – whenever they make an appearance on silver screen – they just rock. People are mesmerised by his screen presence.
    Definitely, when it comes to acting I prefer Kamal or Big B, but for entertainment it is Rajini – undoubtedly.

  5. Thank goodness these commentors on that post don’t visit my blog! 🙂

    I used to share a similar curiosity when I was much younger. But I learned quite early in life that excellence in any art form and popularity have generally got nothing to do with each other!

  6. my 1 paise of thought
    pl dont say rajni is not of kamal calibre. i personally feel he is far more better than him. wanna proof, watch god father then nayagan then thalapathi or aaurilarundhu arupathu varai. my humble opinion is he is one good actor who was forced to commercialization.

  7. One very interesting observation…
    Everyone has seen the matrix.. Stunts/Action sequences et al.. The stuff they show is as impossible as the stuff shown in Rajini movies…One punch and the thug goes flying ten feet..Now, why is it the matrix is considered so cool whereas Rajini is scoffed at? We love to make fun of Rajini dont we??Make somebody a scapegoat and let him have it…Interesting insight into human psychology…

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