Bengaluru: His last Kannada movie in a lead role was Garjane, released in 1981, and since then there have only been rumours of him returning to Sandalwood. But Tamil superstar, Rajinikanth is as much a household name in Karnataka as he is in Tamil Nadu.
The rush for his latest film, Kabali, was huge in theatres in the city, but it appears to have evoked mixed feelings in his old friend of 45 years, Raghunandan, an associate director himself, who has known the star since his days in the Chennai Film Institute.
“I feel it could have been much better with some humour and more entertainment. Otherwise, it is a complete movie for the masses,” he said, revealing he last spoke to the mega star before he left for the USA.
“He talked about the teaser and expected the movie to do well. It is tremendous to see him on screen displaying such command over acting and his onscreen mannerisms,” Mr Raghunandan gushed.
Of the 154 films that Rajinikanth has acted in not more than 11 have been in Sandalwood, despite his strong links with Bengaluru, where he worked as a bus conductor for a few years before leaving for Chennai in search of stardom.
Spotted by the late director, Balachander, Rajinikanth made his debut in the Tamil film, Apoorva Raagangal, but returned to Karnataka, wanting to further his film career here. But no meaty roles came his way and eventually his popularity grew immensely in the Tamil film industry.
Going by Mr Raghunandan, a special screening of Kabali in Bengaluru on Thursday saw the likes of former minister, Ambareesh, and other celebrities in the audience, bearing testimony to his huge popularity in the state.