T is for Thalaiva #BlogchatterA2Z

If there is a human being on earth who is worshipped after God, it is probably the one and only Thalaiva.

Who? What?

Thalaiva means Boss or Leader.

Thalaiva is Rajnikanth and Rajnikanth needs no introduction.

If you still need an introduction though, Rajnikanth is the most popular star of the South Indian Movie Industry, if not the world.

Pic Courtesy: Google

When a Rajnikanth film releases in Chennai, it is nothing short of a festival.

Albert Theatre on Mount Road is considered Rajnikanth’s ‘Official Theatre’. The first day, first show screening of each and every of his films are viewed by his family there.

Every major theatre screening his film is decorated with lights, flowers, banners and his cut-outs. A Paal Abhishekam (bathing with milk) is performed on his Cut-outs. It is rumoured that 50,000 litres of Milk is used for this exercise.

Pic Courtesy: Google

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I would like to attend a 4 o clock theatre screening of his last movie, and needless to say I agreed immediately. When I asked where would we be having dinner, post the film, withering looks came my way.  Deep sighs and eye rolls preceded the information that the screening was scheduled for 4 AM, and not PM. Yes, that is a special timing chosen , most probably due to extreme impatience, to watch their beloved Thalaiva on screen.

What never fails to impress me is that Rajni has managed to attain this cult status despite being  an ‘outsider’. His original name is Shivaji Rao Gaekwad. What is even more impressive is that he used to be Bus Conductor with the Bangalore Transport Service, before he joined the Madras Film Institute to pursue a Diploma in Acting. From a Conductor to a Super Star!

His gestures and mannerisms are legendary. From flicking his sunglasses dramatically in the air and have them miraculously land on his face,  to beating up a dozen goons single- handedly without moving a muscle, it’s all believable when ‘Rajni Saar’ does it. 

The roar and whistles that go up in the theatre when Thalaiva makes his first appearance on screen could make you go deaf. Better wear ear plugs when he delivers his famous one liners, a popular one being  ‘Pera kettaale chumma adhirudhulla!’ (Doesn’t everything quake at the mere mention of my name?’)

Pic Courtesy: Google

For someone revered thus, the man is the most unassuming and humble human being in person. With his trademark white beard, he is almost unrecognisable as himself. The perfect example of when a tree is laden with fruit it bows down more.

Written for the theme

My A to Z of Chennai: The City Viewed Through An Outsiders Eye


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  1. after watching song at end of chennai express I actually searched for the meaning of Thalaiva and then i came across its the all time boss Rajnikant. Even his robot, kaala, 2.0 at this age are superhit what more to ask for.

  2. Oh yes…i have heard a lot about Thalaiva’s simple living. On Sunday watched 2.0. It is amazing to see him in action.

  3. Thalaiva is a living legend and if someone doesn’t know who Rajni Sir or Saar is, they deserve a smack on the head. But I am always amazed at how humble and sweet he always is. I have been wondering why R was not for Rajnikant. Now I know.

  4. You know the only other actor who has garnered the cult status that Rajini has is Dr MG Ramachandran who later became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Your post reminds me of those days. I am not a fan of Rajini’s acting. But yes there is nothing to beat his stage presence which makes people go crazy about him.

  5. I am a diehard rajni fan, I sit and watch his movies without family support. I was expecting him to feature at R.
    All the Rajani fans…….

  6. Mind it!! I just cannot stand him …sorry but then who am I? The world is at his feet literally

  7. Mayuri Nidigallu Noor Anand Chawla

    Loved reading about Thalaiva! The man is truly a legend, no matter which part of the country or world you’re from.

  8. I know about his immense popularity but wasnt aware of Paal Abhishekam and flowers and lights!! Amazing!! His on-screen persona is so different from his real life personality! Would like to be in Chennai during his film release and see the Rajni Festival 😀

  9. Thalaiva I have great respect for.His work and his legend is story for folklore .Now he is getting set for another career!

  10. The last line said it all, M. He is the epitome of humility and is such a simple person. I’ve heard about the ritual of putting flowers and banners and all that jazz during his movies but haven’t seen it yet. Wonder how the man manages to handle so much reverence. Thalaiva just knows it, I guess.
    By the way, did you go for the 4am movie?

  11. Rajni Sir is the only boss in India. I remember my colleague showing me his house with so much excitement and sharing these instances outside the theatre.

  12. I agree to that when you said, being an outsider Rajni, has maintained such a warmth and charm from the locals.
    Chennai is always considered traditional and very emotional to it’s heroes. But yes, Thalaiva is a class apart.

  13. Ha, how did I miss the one and only Superstar, The Thaliava? He is a Thalaiva on screen or off the screen for a reason. Now your Chennai theme is complete, Mayuri 🙂

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