A scholarly pursuit of the fan club phenomenon led Lawrence Liang to the street


Folio In Fans: of Bangalore, in 2005, where a mighty army of fans of the film-star Rajinikant
was preparing to celebrate the release of his latest film Chandramukhi. As cine
ma conquered reality, Liang found it increasingly difficult to retain his autonom
The Curious Case
and maintain a professional distance. On on impulse, he decided to abandon th
notebook and embrace the new role that had been suddenly thrust upon hi
of the Man from Japan
move hovering on the brink of perilous discovery, as he was to soon find out.

Lawrence Liang
All photographs courtesy the author

Rajinikanth fans assembled at the Rai determine the political history of fan Bahadur Arcot Narrainsawmy clubs by examining how the star was Around the same time I was also Mudaliar School (RBANMS) ground the focal point for the mobilisation of interested in the histories of diffe in Ulsoor. So. ornate chair most historical and contemporary identities. the fan that after the release of his next filnl pervasive publicness of cinema. . with a single various subaltern groups. and that burden of mobilising migrant seated on a large. presence of Tamil films in the city. His auto rickshaw drivers. bur which had also witnessed up to the release of Chandramukl I Srinivas' seminal book on fan clubs of a rise in an aggressive form of was joined by my colleagues Nal1U the film-star Chiranjeevi in Andhra linguistic sub-nationalism.lrmc was also curious to see how it would with my questions.Lawrenc s o there 1 was on a mandap. Most members of the (the kind used by newly-wed debates on film spectatorship in India Rajinikanth fan clubs were youn couples on stage) between the local constantly condemn the unruly and working in precarious labour corporator and a religious pontiff. as well as over the expectations from Chandramukhl stn questions and follow the activities of perceived threat posed by the strong the previous Rajinikanth-starrer B. It (2002)-which many had speculat:~J Srinivas' book on fan clubs begins seemed to me that unlike the would launch his political carcer-l1.000 work on Chiranjeevi fans sought to waiters and so on.In weeks after I had finished reading S. a came' 1 :md Rajinikanth's film Chandramukhi hold up in the context of Bangalore. mechamcs.l with a fundamental question: What is Chiranjeevi fan clubs within Andhra been a surprise flop at the box office the nature of the public sphere Pradesh. Tensions and Shailesh on the day of the Pradesh.dl:ln distributors of Baba who had sufferd accounts of the public sphere ignore Tamil Nadu carried the addJ":io:l. a notebook I started tracking rileS (2005) was slated for release just a few city with a history of linguistic spaces and talking to fans in the r .v. The date that had been sclccrc . Enthused by the direction between the Tamil and Kannadiga premiere. clubs of stars such as Rajinik:lnrh and he would compensate all the Srinivas finds it curious that classical Kamal Haasan in states orh~'r. the cinema-watchl1lg public. a excessive behaviour of fans and conditions in the informal sector ~ massive garland of flowers around my relegate it to a non-public space. FollOWing Fans . Bangalore. and wI how am I ever going to get out of itt their claims over the public sphere. which primarily addressed Rajinikallth had gone on record t constituted by cinema~ Given the the question of local politics.ll losses. I decided that it might be while over the sharing of the river Rajinikanth film there were great fun to come up with a few of my own Cauvery's waters.:l~ the Rajinikanth fan clubs in Bangalore. waving at over 5. Besides the buzz that that his work was taking film studies populations erupted every once in a usually accompanies the releas in India to. neck. diversity. and how cinematic spaces in the city. how thought running through my head: cinema constituted an important different kinds of public congregan "How did I get myself into this and mode through which people asserted around a Rajinikanth film. the differences were between a 5n Balaji theatre in Neelsandra ~md Flashback to March 2005 I found his argument compelling but Naga theatre in Ulsoor.

which smuggler Veerappan kidnapped the a new kind of patriarchal figure was less than 250 metres from Naga matinee idol Rajkumar-one of the emerges. various pro-Kannada groups in which the star on the screen is no stars may have had some fans in protested. The statue was veiled and a just a figure of glamour but also common.111 Instrlltl1CnL\ . he had made was that the statue be this formulation there ca'1 be 11 Karunanidhi. which are distinguishable fro of the Tamil Sangam and various fan to the Tamil character of this the Cantonment area. It is a distinct fum often have . Volume 7. Lake. in an important theatre is a statue that testifies to the referred to current events. A number of the street around every birth anniversary of relatiolls emerge specifically in south personnel shared space with members names and prominent buildings testify Thiruvalluvar. The star in south Indian In Ulsoor. Its history is linked news of the kidnapping and the Tamil Prasad offers us a new term ell politics in south India. especially in Ulsoor and India. Madhava Prasad. venue to protect it from vandalism. Riots had erupted after the division between text and oot symbol of the marriage of film and dominated locality. nor about th suggests that scholars who attempt to groups and Tamils. Then read > infusion of star charisma into cinema and politics in south India. the author understanding of cinema-as a carri significant also because it was the very of the n.000 security Bangalore. after a High Court use of cinenu to disseminate explain tilL l. A number of to that of the Tamil migrant labourers community had borne the brunt of politics-which allows us to vicw -:-1 leaders of the Karnataka Rakshana whom the British brought to the mob violence. the identities and aspirations of a especially when it's a question of The measure of this little statue's particular linguistic community-in which star occupies more public space. On the road skirting the lake Statue of Saint God Thiruvalluvar" Prasad: and less than 100 metres from Ajanta but sometimes they amusingly M. a little finally unveiled. and over 4. contestation between pro. Number 1 Following Fans . sphere-one of the ransom demands tation of a linguistic community. Vedike (Karnataka Protection Forum) Bangalore in the early nineteenth separate bur as necessarily conjoined had been taken under preventive century when they demarcated the The covered statue also inspired concepts that allow us to better detention before the unveiling Cantonment region from Old anonymous graffiti that would appear understand why certain star-fan ceremony. clubs during the unveiling ceremony neighbourhood. and while the two erected. This statue. . Most of these generic fan-devotional activity din. and upon whom rests a theatre.1tic basis of politics under three feet high. The statue was electoral politics. realm of politics and cinema not a.ArtConnect: The IFA Maga<:. is of the order in 2009.ine. who was himself a Ulsoor has traditionally been a Tamil­ unveiled.Kannada The Da Vinci Code". Kamal Haasan's film was to rhat when the (Tamil) sandalwood cinema is thus a vehicle through be released in Ajanta theatre. The Tamil Sangam were straightforward political appeals towards a pan-national star such as which was thinly attended since many has its office opposite the Ulsoor such as "CM [Chief Minister] Unveil Amitabh Bachchan. as in "First Cine-politics is not about the rethinking of the relationship between history of the linguistic and ethnic read the Holy Thirukkural. the venue of Rajinikanth's leading figures of the Kannada public burden of political and mOl'a1 re film.int'l11.: who is often of political messages to the masses day on which Kamal Haasan's self­ regarded as a symbol of Tamil identit\ This model ignores the specificity of produced film Mumbai Express (2005) In 1991.irukkl/rll1.-. fan clubs are usually police van permanently posted at the invested with the ability to represenr competitive and antagonistic.Lawrence L for the release of Chandramuk/lj was poet-saint Thiruvalluvar. by the then Chief party slogans. According to feared it would spark off violence. Minister of Tamil Nadu M. after the statue had been cinema as a representational mew UJ was being released. symbolism can be gauged by the fact making.

.

What does it of entertainment that was then mean for a fan to come out to learning to speak.lt ~orms 0 enthusiasm to an offer of are vitalised by a passion r leadership emanating from the investment in the success of a fiI screen and.. Of equal importance for Ine gaps in the symbolic chain.' A Corporeal Cinephilia Extending Prasad's argument. through the fan which one owns by virtue or one' associations that emerged later. A set would be how fan activity allows for of contingent factors led to a an expressivity of the body and situation where cinema.-al engagement that Srinivas' and Prasad's works attempt! emerged If! s()me of the to understand fan activity in rdatlll linguistically defined states of toa larger understanding of polit1(" southern India at a certain may also be useful to see such act' historical juncture where Indian in ways that are not subsumed by rh nationalism's ideological suturing question of politics or claims of could not take care of certain identity. Following Fans . While theatre leading up to the RBANM ~ . one could almost sense a fans and stars in terms of affective palpable passion hovering in the aJ I. came to be celebrate the release of his star's fll chosen as the site of a strong What forms of connectivity to political investment. where different planes of life does a audiences responded with celebration allow~ WI1. affective investment in the star~ \Vh established a concrete set of does an enthusiastic dance acdvatc fo everyday practices that re­ other bodies~ affirmed the position of the star as leader. from Naga natural and so.LawrenC<" L of pU!iti. one Walking through Neelasandra and could describe the relation between Ulsoor. which attempts to aspect of public space. a form temporal experience. reserved for a visual experience-bu enthusiasm and commitment.{ the phrase with a nod to Goethe's idea all the senses and transformed eve I ) of elective affinities.. I use corporeal cinephilia which impJjcat. !a1 [! !:trion!>. affinities in which the transaction if one were witnessing not just a ki 11 between the star and the fan is of cinephilia-a word primaril}' measured via the currency of passion.f attraetillllS in inch of St Johns Road. Almost cveIJ characterise form" .

banners. assigns liability to persons even if they an account of the value of these theatre had been obscured by a are not necessarily the agents of an objects <11' "fleeting LOnstcllations massive collage of Rajinikanth posters I decided to focus instead on speaking action. although the show that of a black and ·white photocopied dances.1111 ren. fortunate enough to have a ticket of a young man posing stylishly for in pamphlets otherwise reserved t.l} of information was inaccurate.11 posters.·nL. Fan activity. As if that wasn't impressive enough..'!. appeared to allow for til'" .000 for the logic of the spectacle. . But what did the appcu of the going rates of black-market sunglasses. and the qualit. claiming their share of would begin only at 12. another person clarified in a There was something strangely KajriJain's work on calendar art somewhat indignant tone that the effective and touching about Raja's provides us with a useful W. while many others showed me of a c~rtain vicarious sovcr. IJ' his fans as well. limited resources embodied in bazaar images of god S.. and the attention of the public through the Tracing the different circuits of \ that by now it was Rs 5.! . had been covered with was. inhabited. Rumours Basha. other bodies or that provided us with a virtual tour to people and documenting the variet to be vicariously liable for the actions objects. If most of the posters invited thinking about ontology as dural was the rate the previous evening.. front stall and Rs 10. By focusing on bearing images of Rajinikanth and of denting my less-than-impressive vicarious liability is a concept that their circulation one is able to pro. Fallnll"ng FaIlS . Rs 3. rhythm :tn through his career. In legal theory. tattoo of Rajinikanth's name on his star. held a mobile phone in one and disappearance of this pres tickets circulated slightly faster than hand and had the other hand in his mean? The pamphlet would dj~ share prices in a stock exchange.[.'. Those A4-size sheer of paper with the image publicity. the collage seemed of signage on the road. one dictate the rhythms of work and . He collage on the theatre's fa~ade b bazaar of devotion. as would the gJ there were no bears to be found in this Rajinikanth surrounded his own.30 p. pamphlets and flags information without significantly and fan activiry. with its intensity of time at a given moment to be as much of an attraction as the rickshaw driver showed me a fresh forging of affective affinities wilIJ the It seemed here that 111 contrast to th film itself.J huge crowds waiting expectantly image thar struck me tile most was occupy public space suddenly cn outside the hall.Y of hands of the c111ck move ceaseless!) Right through the l11~)rnillg there were watches with his images. thus an employer may be held between the image. The fa~ade of Naga wallet. but pocket. they ground. There vicarious success. 'missing persons' announcements sympathised with those trying Raja (a fan of the Rajinikanth film literally bodying forth an ephemc desperately to buy a ticket. and anonymous faces aF. When I asked had innovatively stuck his little the duration of their existence I"h people how much a ticket would cost pamphlet above the more glamorous had been transformed. and they J 'in black' I was first told that I could posters and it rode on the wave of not also transformed the space they secure a front stall ticket for around just the star but of other fans as well. no way of verifying this of the relation between vicariousness simultaneously gain great ethical

. Morphed images of in a few days.'. as the sheet informed us) wore presence.000 for the had necessitated an aesthetic she suggests that while these image" balcony. This led me to think occupy the space of low art. of course. he even offered to help me innovation that nonetheless enjoyed which are cheap reproductions get a ticket if I were interested.000. looked pleasantly smug but they what seemed like a srudio picture. that that strategy. But the.\:
rcise idea of a given rime in which the hand.m. as religious objects. An auto of his employees.

It was clear that vicarious there was no turning back. "Ashwathamma the elephant not the said "Tokyo"-I was from Okinawa. At any Japanese. The music was infectious After a series of handshakes and hugs my favourite Rajinikanth film? I made. Going With the Flow din of the music was "the researcher not the Japanese fan': I subsequently By then I had figured that it W:lS It started innocuously enough with When the procession came to a stop found out that there had already been pointless continuing this adventure many of the fans asking me about at an intersection. The idea that I was led by a motley crew of acrobats.ine. what fan activity surrounded by R:ljinikanth and that I had no clue.. gave a few autograph ideal one for an aspirational fly-on­ sovereignty had come back to claim its Yudhishtira's whispered white lie and even corrected them when the) the-wall ethnographer to adopt. kept admonished for placing Basha (1995) Rajinikanth Fans Welfare Associa been a foreigner partaking in the introdUcing me to various people as above Padiyappa.• ground I Iud my own little band of . Or vans carrying cutouts of Rajinikanth Japanese" in the background. I kept aside my what I was doing and why I was enthusiastic young fans started asking resulted in my initially hesitant and notebook and decided to just enjo) interested in Rajinikanth. and like various groups. and I tax from the researcher. and was swaying to it as we walked along rejoin the procession but I was answer to the last question was the next thing I knew I was being with the procession. But by this time I started to enjoy the banter with festivities for Rajinikanth is not the Japanese.i body at work. Phone calls were being greatest hits. and talked abollt growing up India. Volume 7. that my English was d . I should have intuited the interest in Rajinikanth. since I was worried that the Will Rajinikanth ever act in a Japanese Japanese fan from Tokyo seemed f drummers dressed in leopard skins. we love Rajinikanth very flown down from Tokyo to catch th way of determining one's 'time pass: then steered towards my ethnicity and much:' Perhaps I just went with the premiere of Chandramukhi in ChCM I had a slightly more difficult time flow. I tried me whether people in Japan loved subsequently enjoyable role of the rest of the celebration. I questions: Which is Rajinikanth's that I spoke Hindi and even making their way slowly through the mumbled something about not being most popular film in Japan? Do only understood a smattering of Tamil streets of Ulsoor.Lawrence I. I didn't have the heart to say newspapers in Bangalore h. the handful of people around me had questions than to explain my me. The persona of a followed by a small and persistent Padiyappa (1999) after I was gently introduced to the President of the visible outsider who could even have group that. Soon I was posing for photograph~' ground where a major rally was to and how it had little to do with my or just a pragmatic surrender to the with various fan clubs and a culminate.. hall when a song plays? Which was of veracity. procession was getting far ahead of us film? Do Japanese fans dance in the more important than the trivial rna and a brass band playing the star's and we would miss the programme. or maybe it was my natural As I walked towards the RBANMS explaining my Indian-Chinese origin inclination towards being a prankster. Number 1 FolloUling Fans . "Yes. to my dismay. One of the l('chlll1g the procession reached the RBAN l\.1l. a group of larger conspiracies churning which a research project. informing others that a Japan and very soon everyone including me I managed to shake them off and discovered that the only correct fan was present at the celebration.. The conversation answer. The fact that I didn't sound The procession itself was a spectacular grown into a larger group and I could participation in the celebration. By this time idea that it was easier to answer these Rajinikanth flag was draped aroul adventure that was in store for me. I was very soon the object of curiosity man" all I could feebly mutter in the told them. for a number of people. :lI\d I don't know apparently carried a story that da} allowed for was a celebratory time in Kamal Haasan posters in the what it was that prompted me to claiming that many Japanese fans 11 which vicarious sovereignty served as a Shivajinagar area. The procession was Japanese and attempted to slip away boys like Rajinikanth or girls too? didn't matter.ArtConnect: The IFA Magaz. carnival with over a hundred Tempo hear people whispering"Japanese rate my answer only led to further inflected with a Bangalore accent. By the t1 In( explaining my general research interest Rajinikanth as much as they did in Doppelganger.

now quite enthused with my newly who was perhaps wondering if all association started his speech and adopted persona and even hoped that Japanese looked alike. Number 1 Following Fans . started waving them about. The president of the fans dais.Luwren protectors who claimed partial introduced to the corporator and the which the procession would finally head me and urging me to join them for ownership over me for having pontiff who were already seated on the towards Naga for the premiere. a group of fans following and justice and cinema in Indin. and at one point in the say and even wondered whether I free cinema ticket. all feeling the shy. more confidently in some small talk please come up and show respect for the with my fellow chief guests.:hcs the pt'csidcm said that garlanded by the president anc there would be an early lunch after . today moment I came face to face with 5. I we know that the largest crowd that we nearest auto rickshaw. or was I imagining things? to sound a little more authentic. resist for the second time he was visibly Feeling slightly more at ease I went back displeased and requested me in a tone to my chair and proceeded to engage that sounded more like a command. and a$ speech he seemed to mention the word should put on a slight Japanese accent the driver to just take me anvwhl "Japanese'. "Why sir. aren't you the lawyer figuring out the dynamics of with us and show his affection for our Rajinikanth was in Japan and how we with that human rights organisation?" Rajinikanth fan clubs in Bangalore beloved superstar. but all As I descended from the stage. We would request wished that we could have someone like I recognised him as someone I had as an encounter in which c1llematiL him to come on the stage and say a few Rajini-sir in Japan. there is only one moon. ineffectually protested about not being hundred in a seminar room. "Sir. to which the earlier in the morning I had been president laughed and said. Before I infusing it with the magic of surt'eal perhaps was a real Japanese fan who and then managed to end on a more could answer I could hear the fans encounters. My big garland He is currently finishing a book 0 was rapidly led towards the stage. kept saying before I could take it out. the fans close there is only one mother and there is "Okinawa" and walked straight ahead Lawrence Liang is a lawyer and film to me broke into cheers. don't worry superstar I could think of now was what it might Rajini is with you': When I tried to feel like to be a vicarious rock star. one couldn't hJ\ Bangalore. I hopped IOro introductions of the chief guests amidst I quickly tried to think of what I would the welfare association would give me a moving auto. disappointment of the fans. and with a puzzled polic discovered me. "Sir. and I am not we have with us a Japanese fan who has odd enthusiastic fans. my camera to click the Japanese fan. I was by lunch.ArtConnect: The IFA Magazine. I dug into my bag to retrieve saying among Rajinikanth fans. I looked at asked for more cinema. One of them smiled at closer now than I was in 2005 to come all the way from Japan to celebrate nervous words about how popular me and said. "There this revelation could mean. but is only one sun. After a few star:' I walked up to the stage and was more spec. Sensing the slight met a few days ago in a police station I effects spill over from the s( reen ant. the cop blank-faced. thinking about vicarious sovereignty. I muttered a few programme. and grabbing only one star-Superstar:' As academics towards the exit. I will ever address will at best be a few around me. words:' I temporarily forgot the situation disappointment of the crowd I raised had gone to in connection with the eventually take over the real world I was in and excitedly thought that there my hand to show the famous Baba sign arrest of a Tibetan activist. I He translated his own speech into my plans were laid to waste the encountered a group of policemen As a research trip I guess it was 1 English and announced. much to the much cheering. shared happiness and may have travelled from Chennai to buoyant note with the well-known clapping and waving and realised what momentary dangers.000­ deployed to provide protection for the unqualified disaster. looking for the scholar at the Alternative LIW For'" my hands. and if able to give speeches. Volume 7. "Friends.

y.'More than Meets the Eye: The Telugu Cinema after NT Rama Rao (New Circulation of Images and the Embodiment Delhi: Oxford University Press.org/filmjournalljmi _OIl article_03. Contributions to Indian Socio{ogy-36 (February 2002). is considered a masterpiece of Tamil literature.ArtConnect: The IFA Mogo<Jne. Srinivas. 67.php. Ibid. KajriJain.]otlrnal of the Moving Image. Available at http:// wwwJmionline. 2. The TIJirukkural.. . M. S.'Cine-Politics: On the Political Significance of Cinema in South India. p. 2009). Volume 7. written in around 30 Be. Madhava Prasad. Megastar: Chiranjeevi and 5. Number 1 NOTES 4. of Value.1 (1999). 1. 3. love. in the form of couplets that deal with virtue. believed to have been pp. No.33-70. Ibid. It is written 6. and other aspects of ethical living.

org I'or more information. soeioll)gists and art historinns.Il.indiaifa. Visit W\vw.:Oll1l11unity and beyond. Sint:c we bl.: art:a~ of the arts.org asking to join our mailing list. 1FA was sct up in 199 ~ 10 focus lin urgcnt (lllt unatlcnd. championing the cause of arts philanthropy and advocating the importance of the arts in public life. We abo <.'t <1:-. help In the prCSl'rYdtlon Lind transmission of valuable <:lIltural knll\'lcdge. support initiati\cs to bring the arts into the c1assrnom. In the last decade and a half we have substantially enriched India's cultural landscape and infilsed passion and professionalism into the business ofarts philanthropy. Our support ha~ gone out tn inJepemknt rcsean:h and. To receive regular information about our activities. fund research in the ~lrlS. roday we fund CUlling edge artistic practice. About lEA India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) is one of the country s leading independent arts funders. To sUpp011 our activities and in tum receive ArtConneet and other IFA material for free.:\ dopmcnt and in frastructurc creal iOll. .htccn cmr~ rupees larpro:xilllntely thrcc-anJ-a-quartcr million US J.ollars) to rro.:oml11illed cig. architects and cOI1"cnalionists. Leaching instiLlltilll1S.iects located in almost every corner of lhe cOlJntry.wn wt' havl: l. and creak public platfonns for the dissemin. scholars and artists. cral"tspLrs("lns and rolk per/ormers have been among the bendicinrics or (lur support. become a Friend of IFA. 100 culLural and JevelopmcnL llrganisations. Ll :-'llllrce of il1fonnalioll and ~:xrl'rtisc 10 those in the arts l. writer" and visual arlisK filmmakers and lillll scholars.-'d Ilt'cds in ~p~t:i lit. send an email to contactus@indiaifa. a~sist in institution dl.ltion and advocLlt:y uflhe arts.· Mlblciansand horeographcrs.:!.

. Morphed images of in a few days.'. as the sheet informed us) wore presence.000 for the had necessitated an aesthetic she suggests that while these image" balcony. This led me to think occupy the space of low art. of course. he even offered to help me innovation that nonetheless enjoyed which are cheap reproductions get a ticket if I were interested.000. looked pleasantly smug but they what seemed like a srudio picture. that that strategy. But 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rcise idea of a given rime in which the hand.m. as religious objects. An auto of his employees.

It was clear that vicarious there was no turning back. "Ashwathamma the elephant not the said "Tokyo"-I was from Okinawa. At any Japanese. The music was infectious After a series of handshakes and hugs my favourite Rajinikanth film? I made. Going With the Flow din of the music was "the researcher not the Japanese fan': I subsequently By then I had figured that it W:lS It started innocuously enough with When the procession came to a stop found out that there had already been pointless continuing this adventure many of the fans asking me about at an intersection. The idea that I was led by a motley crew of acrobats.ine. what fan activity surrounded by R:ljinikanth and that I had no clue.. gave a few autograph ideal one for an aspirational fly-on­ sovereignty had come back to claim its Yudhishtira's whispered white lie and even corrected them when the) the-wall ethnographer to adopt. kept admonished for placing Basha (1995) Rajinikanth Fans Welfare Associa been a foreigner partaking in the introdUcing me to various people as above Padiyappa.• ground I Iud my own little band of . Or vans carrying cutouts of Rajinikanth Japanese" in the background. I kept aside my what I was doing and why I was enthusiastic young fans started asking resulted in my initially hesitant and notebook and decided to just enjo) interested in Rajinikanth. and like various groups. and I tax from the researcher. and was swaying to it as we walked along rejoin the procession but I was answer to the last question was the next thing I knew I was being with the procession. But by this time I started to enjoy the banter with festivities for Rajinikanth is not the Japanese.i body at work. Phone calls were being greatest hits. and talked abollt growing up India. Volume 7. that my English was d . I should have intuited the interest in Rajinikanth. since I was worried that the Will Rajinikanth ever act in a Japanese Japanese fan from Tokyo seemed f drummers dressed in leopard skins. we love Rajinikanth very flown down from Tokyo to catch th way of determining one's 'time pass: then steered towards my ethnicity and much:' Perhaps I just went with the premiere of Chandramukhi in ChCM I had a slightly more difficult time flow. I tried me whether people in Japan loved subsequently enjoyable role of the rest of the celebration. I questions: Which is Rajinikanth's that I spoke Hindi and even making their way slowly through the mumbled something about not being most popular film in Japan? Do only understood a smattering of Tamil streets of Ulsoor.Lawrence I. I didn't have the heart to say newspapers in Bangalore h. the handful of people around me had questions than to explain my me. The persona of a followed by a small and persistent Padiyappa (1999) after I was gently introduced to the President of the visible outsider who could even have group that. Soon I was posing for photograph~' ground where a major rally was to and how it had little to do with my or just a pragmatic surrender to the with various fan clubs and a culminate.. hall when a song plays? Which was of veracity. procession was getting far ahead of us film? Do Japanese fans dance in the more important than the trivial rna and a brass band playing the star's and we would miss the programme. or maybe it was my natural As I walked towards the RBANMS explaining my Indian-Chinese origin inclination towards being a prankster. Number 1 FolloUling Fans . "Yes. to my dismay. One of the l('chlll1g the procession reached the RBAN l\.1l. a group of larger conspiracies churning which a research project. informing others that a Japan and very soon everyone including me I managed to shake them off and discovered that the only correct fan was present at the celebration.. The conversation answer. The fact that I didn't sound The procession itself was a spectacular grown into a larger group and I could participation in the celebration. By this time idea that it was easier to answer these Rajinikanth flag was draped aroul adventure that was in store for me. I was very soon the object of curiosity man" all I could feebly mutter in the told them. for a number of people. :lI\d I don't know apparently carried a story that da} allowed for was a celebratory time in Kamal Haasan posters in the what it was that prompted me to claiming that many Japanese fans 11 which vicarious sovereignty served as a Shivajinagar area. The procession was Japanese and attempted to slip away boys like Rajinikanth or girls too? didn't matter.ArtConnect: The IFA Magaz. carnival with over a hundred Tempo hear people whispering"Japanese rate my answer only led to further inflected with a Bangalore accent. By the t1 In( explaining my general research interest Rajinikanth as much as they did in Doppelganger.

now quite enthused with my newly who was perhaps wondering if all association started his speech and adopted persona and even hoped that Japanese looked alike. Number 1 Following Fans . started waving them about. The president of the fans dais.Luwren protectors who claimed partial introduced to the corporator and the which the procession would finally head me and urging me to join them for ownership over me for having pontiff who were already seated on the towards Naga for the premiere. a group of fans following and justice and cinema in Indin. and at one point in the say and even wondered whether I free cinema ticket. all feeling the shy. more confidently in some small talk please come up and show respect for the with my fellow chief guests.:hcs the pt'csidcm said that garlanded by the president anc there would be an early lunch after . today moment I came face to face with 5. I we know that the largest crowd that we nearest auto rickshaw. or was I imagining things? to sound a little more authentic. resist for the second time he was visibly Feeling slightly more at ease I went back displeased and requested me in a tone to my chair and proceeded to engage that sounded more like a command. and a$ speech he seemed to mention the word should put on a slight Japanese accent the driver to just take me anvwhl "Japanese'. "Why sir. aren't you the lawyer figuring out the dynamics of with us and show his affection for our Rajinikanth was in Japan and how we with that human rights organisation?" Rajinikanth fan clubs in Bangalore beloved superstar. but all As I descended from the stage. We would request wished that we could have someone like I recognised him as someone I had as an encounter in which c1llematiL him to come on the stage and say a few Rajini-sir in Japan. there is only one moon. ineffectually protested about not being hundred in a seminar room. "Sir. to which the earlier in the morning I had been president laughed and said. Before I infusing it with the magic of surt'eal perhaps was a real Japanese fan who and then managed to end on a more could answer I could hear the fans encounters. My big garland He is currently finishing a book 0 was rapidly led towards the stage. kept saying before I could take it out. the fans close there is only one mother and there is "Okinawa" and walked straight ahead Lawrence Liang is a lawyer and film to me broke into cheers. don't worry superstar I could think of now was what it might Rajini is with you': When I tried to feel like to be a vicarious rock star. one couldn't hJ\ Bangalore. I hopped IOro introductions of the chief guests amidst I quickly tried to think of what I would the welfare association would give me a moving auto. disappointment of the fans. and with a puzzled polic discovered me. "Sir. and I am not we have with us a Japanese fan who has odd enthusiastic fans. my camera to click the Japanese fan. I was by lunch.ArtConnect: The IFA Magazine. I dug into my bag to retrieve saying among Rajinikanth fans. I looked at asked for more cinema. One of them smiled at closer now than I was in 2005 to come all the way from Japan to celebrate nervous words about how popular me and said. "There this revelation could mean. but is only one sun. After a few star:' I walked up to the stage and was more spec. Sensing the slight met a few days ago in a police station I effects spill over from the s( reen ant. the cop blank-faced. thinking about vicarious sovereignty. I muttered a few programme. and grabbing only one star-Superstar:' As academics towards the exit. I will ever address will at best be a few around me. words:' I temporarily forgot the situation disappointment of the crowd I raised had gone to in connection with the eventually take over the real world I was in and excitedly thought that there my hand to show the famous Baba sign arrest of a Tibetan activist. I He translated his own speech into my plans were laid to waste the encountered a group of policemen As a research trip I guess it was 1 English and announced. much to the much cheering. shared happiness and may have travelled from Chennai to buoyant note with the well-known clapping and waving and realised what momentary dangers.000­ deployed to provide protection for the unqualified disaster. looking for the scholar at the Alternative LIW For'" my hands. and if able to give speeches. Volume 7. "Friends.

y.'More than Meets the Eye: The Telugu Cinema after NT Rama Rao (New Circulation of Images and the Embodiment Delhi: Oxford University Press.org/filmjournalljmi _OIl article_03. Contributions to Indian Socio{ogy-36 (February 2002). is considered a masterpiece of Tamil literature.ArtConnect: The IFA Mogo<Jne. Srinivas. 67.php. Ibid. KajriJain.]otlrnal of the Moving Image. Available at http:// wwwJmionline. 2. The TIJirukkural.. . M. S.'Cine-Politics: On the Political Significance of Cinema in South India. p. 2009). Volume 7. written in around 30 Be. Madhava Prasad. Megastar: Chiranjeevi and 5. Number 1 NOTES 4. of Value.1 (1999). 1. 3. love. in the form of couplets that deal with virtue. believed to have been pp. No.33-70. Ibid. It is written 6. and other aspects of ethical living.

org I'or more information. soeioll)gists and art historinns.Il.indiaifa. Visit W\vw.:Oll1l11unity and beyond. Sint:c we bl.: art:a~ of the arts.org asking to join our mailing list. 1FA was sct up in 199 ~ 10 focus lin urgcnt (lllt unatlcnd. championing the cause of arts philanthropy and advocating the importance of the arts in public life. We abo <.'t <1:-. help In the prCSl'rYdtlon Lind transmission of valuable <:lIltural knll\'lcdge. support initiati\cs to bring the arts into the c1assrnom. In the last decade and a half we have substantially enriched India's cultural landscape and infilsed passion and professionalism into the business ofarts philanthropy. Our support ha~ gone out tn inJepemknt rcsean:h and. To receive regular information about our activities. fund research in the ~lrlS. roday we fund CUlling edge artistic practice. About lEA India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) is one of the country s leading independent arts funders. To sUpp011 our activities and in tum receive ArtConneet and other IFA material for free.:\ dopmcnt and in frastructurc creal iOll. .htccn cmr~ rupees larpro:xilllntely thrcc-anJ-a-quartcr million US J.ollars) to rro.:oml11illed cig. architects and cOI1"cnalionists. Leaching instiLlltilll1S.iects located in almost every corner of lhe cOlJntry.wn wt' havl: l. and creak public platfonns for the dissemin. scholars and artists. cral"tspLrs("lns and rolk per/ormers have been among the bendicinrics or (lur support. become a Friend of IFA. 100 culLural and JevelopmcnL llrganisations. Ll :-'llllrce of il1fonnalioll and ~:xrl'rtisc 10 those in the arts l. writer" and visual arlisK filmmakers and lillll scholars.-'d Ilt'cds in ~p~t:i lit. send an email to contactus@indiaifa. a~sist in institution dl.ltion and advocLlt:y uflhe arts.· Mlblciansand horeographcrs.:!.

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