Fans and fallacies
Rajinikant, the megastar of South Indian films, after getting discharged from a hospital in Singapore recently, wrote a letter to his fans. He profusely thanked them for their wishes and prayers, which, he said, cured him, including kidney ailments. He affirmed his loyalty to the fans and promised to be their entertainer as always.
A month before, when he first fell ill and was admitted in a Chennai hospital, some of the worried fans went on a fast and a few tonsured their heads. Some ate food that was served on bare ground as a form of penance and many carried fire pots praying for his recovery.
There was even a report of an attempted suicide by the head of Rajini’s fans association in Coimbatore in a bid to donate his kidney to the ailing actor. Fans were repeatedly requested to remain calm and await the good news of their star’s recovery.
This, in a sense, is a repeat of what M.G. Ramachandran’s (MGR) fans did in 1984. After hearing about MGR’s failing health, more than 100 people attempted self immolation and thousands expressed their grief in many intense ways.
Earlier, in 1967, when MGR was shot at by his colleague, in no time thousands thronged the hospital and about 20 rickshaw pullers drove their rickshaws from Bangalore to Chennai — a distance of 200 miles — to meet him. When MGR died in 1987, 31 committed suicide and more than a million participated in his funeral.