RAJNIKANTH – how the brand has been shaped online?

“Super starrru yaaarunu keta chinna kozhadhaiyum sollum”

Translation: If you ask for the Superstar, even a little child will be able to point.


True to that dialogue, in this country, especially in the south, it would be hard to find a soul that doesn’t know him.


The brand called Rajni…

Known for his never-aging style and charm, Rajni doesn’t fail to amaze us with every movie he’s made. As we await the release of Peta, this is a nostalgic reminiscence of the how the superstar came to be – the story of how the Brand called Rajni came to be.



<We can have a collage of around 15 – 20 pictures…from his movies…showing / jogging our memories to remember to his journey.

(Billa, Murattu kalai, Pokkiri Raja, Paayum Puli, Nallavannuku nallavan, padikathavan, velaikaran, Manithan, Guru Shisyan, raja chinna roja, mapillai, Mannan, Annamalai, Baasha, Muthu, Arunachalam, Padayappa, Chandramugi, Sivaji, Endhiran, Kabali, 2.0)


Though he belongs to Tamil Cinema, his stardom has birthed fans around the world.


Unlike the Khans and Big B who are neck deep in the ad industry, Rajinikanth endorses no brand. Yet he is an iconic brand himself, probably one of the most valued of his times.

From Rags to Riches…

What can make a brand/person so deeply desirable than a inspirational backdrop, right? The life story of Rajini itself makes him so dear to many. For a common man, trying to make ends meet in life, Rajini the superstar is an inspiration to dream bigger, a hope, or simply a break from their everyday reality. They love him not just because of what he has achieved on screen but off the screens as well.

He was born to Ramojirao Geakwad and Jijibai on December 12, 1950. Little did they know that their son would grow up to be a demigod. He was named after Chatrapati Shivaji. (Rajinikanth’s real name- Shivaji Rao Gaekwad). Fans affectionately call him “Thalaiva”.


He started off his career as a carpenter and then a coolie before ending up with a bus conductor job. (Relate to seeing some of those in his movies?).He also tried his hand at stage plays. It was during this season in his life that he came across an Advert for acting classes in Madras film institute. He followed his passion and his family resisted his decision, while his friend supported.


During one of his onstage performances, Veteran Director K. Balachander lasered on Rajinikanth and advised him to learn tamil. Which was followed by his debut in Tamil cinema with the Movie Apoorva Raagangal(1975) as a supporting actor.


This was the humble beginning of Rajini’s phenomenal acting career.



Superstar – the story behind the title

The Tamil movie industry has witnessed many actors. Many come and go. There are a few that stay and carve a niche for themselves. Then there are others like Rajni who have forever found a place in the heart of fans and cinema itself that it becomes hard to tell the actor from his cinema.


Tamil industry has an ocean of titles – but there will always be one that stands out, that any one would identify, that which when thrown on a theatre screen will cause your adrenaline to rush – ‘SUPERSTAR RAJINIKANTH’


For his fans, he will always be an emotion which they can’t completely handle – an overwhelming feeling of goodness.

When Thanu gave Rajni the title…

Master Producer and Distributor S.Thanu noticed the superstar in Rajni. He threw it on the promotional posters of the movie “Bhairavi”. However, it’s said that Rajinikanth tried to warn Thanu, saying the big shots MGR and Shivaji were still in the race. Well, but Thanu only went one step further and called him“The Greatest Superstar” in his posters. The rest is history.


The title “Superstar” appeared on the theatre screen for the first time in the movie “Naan Potta Savaal”(1980). Rajathi Raja, the full-throttle entertainer from Rajnikanth, then introduced the song “Super staru yaarunu ketta chinna koladhayum sollum.”


The 90s where the golden years for the Superstar, that laid the foundation for him raise up to the prominence he has now.


Whether it was flipping those cigarettes, or sporting those dark cooling glasses, Rajni made hearts throb with a unique demeanor. He was matchless. Some of the dialogues and songs written for him contributed to significantly building his journey into a brand.


His famous dialogues like ‘Naan oru dhadava sonna, nooru dhadava sonna maaadhi’  or ‘En vazhi, thani vazhi’ were unconsciously emphasizing the giant brand that he was becoming.


Many of the songs in his movies were written to resonate with common man. The songs made him relatable, and the heroic roles set him apart in our hearts. Here is a piece from his epic song “Vetri Nichaiyam” from the movie Annamalai:-

“Medu pallam illaamal, Vaazhvil yenna sandhosham

Paaraigal neenginaal, Odaikillai sangeedham”


Superstar celebrated his birthday recently. The day was also marked by the release of the teaser to his next flick “Petta” and wishes poured in from all around the world. Including, Bollywood stars to Cricket stars to Brands have wished him “Happy Birthday Superstar”:-



When his movies hit the screens, his fans bang into theatres and corporate companies buy out shows. They do it just to see him. And that’s why Rajni being in the movie, sells it. He is the promotion for his movies. Even his bad movies have made 100 crores at the box office.


Remember this scene from Mannan where Rajini and Goundamani go through the ruckus to get a front row seat? May be Rajni was sending a message or was it inspired from his fans’ behaviour?

Rajinikanth is 68 years old and has done 164 movies. Petta is Thalaivar 165.


Remember when Kabali hit the screens? Air Asia painted one of it’s plane with the movie poster and invited his fans to ride with them to watch the premiere of the movie. They ran contests, giving winners a chance to fly to Bangkok and Malaysia (The locations where the movie was shot).


Muthoot Fincorp joined the ride by announcing Kabali silver coins and the catch was big as expected- within a few weeks they sold 102 kgs of silver coins collecting around 75 lakhs. Totally milking the opportunity, we must say.


Kabali, earned more than 200 crores, even before the movie was released. That’s Rajini for you.


The buzz around his latest movie 2.0 was so high that the entire nation was expectant to see the Superstar on 3D mode. Honda is a brand partner of the movie and it got to promote its cars and brand in the majestic climax scene of the movie.



Rajinikanth’s Chandramukhi ran for 890 days in Shanthi theatre, breaking the 50 year record of the movie Haridas.


What’s Cooking in YouTube and Twitter:-

The movie industry has used YouTube and Twitter as their primary weapons to reach people, followed by Facebook and Instagram. From releasing first look posters to teasers or trailers, the movie industry uses the power of curiosity to capture a seat in the minds of people. The days when the producers strained hard to promote a movie have gone into the history books, now a movie is promoted in social media through an army:-

  • Lead Actors
  • Director
  • Music Director
  • Supporting Actors
  • Technicians
  • Movie Reviewers
  • Influencers
  • Influential friends of those part of the movie

Without adding the fans of the stars to the equation, an army is already at work to promote a movie. Digital marketing has become a part and parcel of the movie industry but I believe there is so much available in the digital marketing world that is left untapped by the movie industry.

Will 2019 see a rush into a new level in movie digital marketing? Let’s sit back and watch.


What does Petta hold?

Petta, might be the reemergence of the Don of Kollywood, who was kidnapped by Shankar and Ranjith into their world. It might bring back the shades of Baasha you miss. It’s a gangster flick, directed by the Pizza-fame director Karthik Subbaraj. The teaser has Rajini pretty much walking around in different places. But even that raises your heart beat.


Rajinikanth has 5.14M followers on Twitter. Thalaivar’s twitter account can be bland but he is the talk of the town in Twitter with Sun Pictures hitting sixers for Petta, after a good score with Vijay’s Sarkar.


Sun pictures have come up with different ideas for this movie to keep people glued to the movie even before the movie hits the screen. Apart from the normal posters, teaser and trailer, the production giant is releasing character posters and reveal posters.

Here is the character poster of Director+Actor Sasi Kumar:-


Here is a reveal poster, which gets unlocked with 1k retweets(Smart move):-


When the teaser for Petta was released, it was one more reason to celebrate for Thalaivar’s fans. Like always, the announcement was made in advance and the clocks of his fans were left ticking till that boooom moment. It’s no surprise, to see even his teasers create records. Petta’s motion poster and first look posters made people say “Well done” and the recently released teaser left people “undone”. The Old Rajini is back is what my gut says and I believe Karthick Subburaj will not disappoint.




As of Dec 19- 2018, the teaser has more than 11M views on YouTube.


What does the future hold?

Yes it’s true that Ranji never really endorsed anything. But things might change with his political announcements. Will his movie fame be enough for the political world? Will his brand matter in that climate?


The thing about giant brands is that, with a few mistakes they can tumble and fall because everyone is watching.


We will get to see more of Rajni. But as a politician or an actor? Only time will tell.


Like they say Rajinikanth is an emotion, he is a feeling that none of his fans will want to miss. And that’s exactly what makes Him a brand, one of a kind, there is and will ever be. No matter what the future holds, Rajni has left us with a decade of memories to cherish him by. He has made us feel so many different things, from simple earnest friendships to lives of dons. He has done what a real brand should do, connected with his audience at multiple levels and earned their ardent loyalty.

He is a legacy.


P.C Balasubramanian and Ram.N.Ramakrishnan have a penned a book on brand management using Rajinikanth as the model. It is an interesting take on how to build and sustain a brand, drawing from the life of Superstar Rajinikanth.