Friday, June 15, 2012

Rajinikanth in Japan!

You may have heard that Enthrian (aka Robot) has been going gangbusters in Japan! Well, I took it upon myself to translate an article about two super-Rajini fans from Japan.


(You can find the original article here. The translation is mine. Please don't use it without permission.)

In the Indian film Robot, Rajinikanth gives an enthusiastic performance in a double role as both doctor and robot. He’s called Superstar in India and even in Japan is known for his role in Muthu, which was released here. [Title in Japanese is “Muthu the dancing Maharaja.” Heh. - FG] I met with two people who have encountered Rajini to discuss the man himself and the appeal of Indian movies.

Let’s meet the first. “At last, we can see a Rajini movie in Japan” excited words from Tetsunosuke, the owner of Rajinikanth fan site ラジニ★jp, which has been bringing the latest information on Rajinikanth for about 10 years. Until now, Rajinikanth starrers opened overseas and to go and see them one had to be an ardent fan. Unfortunately he did not see Robot in India. “When Robot released, you could see it in Singapore and Malaysia. Even though I tried very hard, I couldn’t get to India.” So, he had to settle for a different country.

On Robot: “It’s not clasic Rajini style. Indian film writing has changed. The desire to build a world market has come to maturity. (*grin*) First of all, there are no inside references - like political or movie star references. The most popular hometown references aren’t there. Then again, in foreign countries, we would ask ‘What is that about?’ at those references. But it’s bold to take them out. That is to say, they made this with the world market in mind.” Tetsunosuke explains. Even though the writing has changed, domestic Indian fans don’t seem to think it’s bad. “I think when the signature lines [punch lines he means - FG] aren’t there, it’s a negative point. To make the movies for the world, you have to have self confidence. (*grin*)”

For Tetsunosuke, with ten years of experience as an Indian movie fan, Rajini love has taken up nine of them. First there wasn’t Rajini. “Returning from work, I spotted an Indian movie.” And then, he met Rajini. For a person who had only had seen a filtered India, a trip to fully experience the country was a must. At the airport, when getting off the plane, it was like a baptism. “At that time, I was wearing a Rajini T-shirt and at the airport, while getting off the plane, I was mobbed. ‘You! You’re Japanese? Why are you wearing a Rajini shirt? Come to my house! We’ll eat dinner!’ This is the real thing, I thought. (*grin*)” After that, “I would ask for help while looking for Rajini related things and people would leave and come. An ill grandmother was saved by a Rajini-run hospital. On her arm, ‘Rajini” was inked. On the arms of children it was printed! It was almost religious... and a little overwhelming. (*grin*)” It certainly seems fun to look back on the trip.

And when he stepped foot in an Indian movie theater, he understood the power of Superstar Rajinikanth. “There’s a huge enthusiasm level from the crowd. It’s like attending a concert. You can call it the masala feel. Confetti is thrown and everybody dances when Rajini comes on screen. There’s a real feeling of love from the crowd.”

After that trip, he returned to India ten times and met Rajini himself three times. “Outside of work, my time is filled with publicity, enlightenment, and education. (*grins*)” And the reason he loves Indian movies? “They set one’s emotions free. They say there are nine emotions in Indian movies. We really have a small understanding of human emotions but watching Indian movies, you experience the full range. And Superstar does them best. Rajini says that until he’s 80, he’ll do his best in the film industry. He doesn’t have a losing spirit, does he?” Tetsunosuke says, smiling.

And now the other person. “Rajini is my heart’s teacher,” says Mr. Nakayama. Ever since Mr. Nakayama saw the record breaking, mega-hit Muthu, he’s been a massive Rajini fan and has overseen the Rajini fan club. At the time of Muthu’s release... “The comparisons were interesting! They said the hero is like India’s Kimutaku and the heroine is like Takako Matsu. The director is India’s Akira Kurosawa and the music is by India’s Tetsuya Komuro. (*grins*) At first I thought, “This is India’s Kimutaku?” But soon I thought he had a cool appearance. That was the puzzle. (*grin*)” Mr. Nakayama says, looking back. “When the subtitles read ‘Superstar,’ there was an enthusiastic uncle building up an infectious feeling! (*grin*) Why was that man captivating? Why did they call him the Superstar? I couldn’t solve that mystery!”

The first time the lucky Mr. Nakayama was onsite with the man who stole his heart it was a chance meeting. “His chest was so big, it would absorb a person. He was like Buddha. ‘My brother,’ he said. (*grins*)” It seems touching the gentle Rajnikanth is a powerful feeling. After this trip, he returned to India seven times for Rajini’s new releases and met Rajini three times. Now, Robot, the film he’s been impatiently waiting for is releasing in Japan. “It’s similar to Muttu. After watching Robot, everybody will be speechless. This is Rajini’s mystique. You love him after a taste,” says Mr. Nakayama, contentedly. It was his prayer that Rajini return to Japan.

Now Mr. Nakayama can’t easily travel to India but the warm feelings he developed for Rajini from that first film haven’t changed. And what about the mystery? “Little by little, I get the feeling it can be solved,” Mr. Nakayama laughs. “Rajini was even a ticket taker on a bus. He’s a real man of the world. In my life, when there are setbacks, I get courage from his movies. He deserves respect as the heart’s true teacher. This time in Robot, it may be a sci-fi film but my feelings on facing the true nature of Rajini’s body of work haven’t changed. The passion won’t die.”


OG said...

Thank you so much for this translation FG!

It is really interesting to read their views on our beloved superstar :)

Filmi Girl said...

@OG Thanks for reading! I know it's kind of a crappy translation but it's my first time trying it. :) Hopefully I'll get better and better.

Apparently Ra.One is releasing in Japan this weekend... there should be some interesting tidbits to translate.

Moimeme said...

Thank you very, very much for this translation, FG! I hope you had fun exercising your newly acquired Japanese skills. (On an aside, this is why it's so great to learn multiple languages. Not only does it expand one's own world, but it helps to broaden the experience of others who aren't similarly blessed.)

It sounds like the Rajni following in Japan is akin to the SRK or general Bollywood following in the U.S. or Europe, though I do wonder how both of these fans managed to meet up with Rajni multiple times! I'm sure their unique position as Japanese fans must have helped them.

What this really shows is that there is indeed a market for true "Indian" films (I mean complete with songs and standard Indian storytelling) in many countries of the world, even many "advanced" countries, if only the films do the basic job of making themselves accessible to others via subtitles or dubbing. If South Indian films started subtitling their releases abroad, they'd sure give a run for the money to Bollywood films. I hope they'll learn this soon.

And, though it's making more work for you, I would really appreciate it if you could also translate any articles you find on the reaction to Ra.One. I am very curious to see this, because I have some hypotheses on the different kinds of science fictional stories that are liked in different countries, and how it reflects on their science fiction films. So, I have a certain expectation in mind. I'm curious to see how close my prediction comes to the actual reaction.

Thanks again for this treat!

Filmi Girl said...

@moimeme Thank you so much!! I will certainly be on the lookout for anything Ra.One related. I'm just as curious as you! LOL!

What struck me about these fans was that their feelings were so close to mine on the changing scripts of Bollywood even though they (presumably) aren't plugged into the global English-language discussion.

When Enthiran was released, they chopped off about an hour of it (including Kilimanjaro, which I love) but people complained and last weekend, they released the full film!! Crazy, no?

And I agree that there is absolutely a market for Indian films globally! Especially in East Asia where the popular culture already embraces a large degree of artifice and razzle-dazzle (OTT costumes, lip syncing, etc. are standard on the pop charts for example) and the "hero" concept would be much more easily translated to someplace like Japan than to the mass American audience, I think.

Filmi Girl said...

@moimeme PS I've been chatting with a Japanese Bollywood fan and his thoughts on Ra.One echo ours! That it's a film for kids and much more Hollywood-like than Bollywood-like. It's a small, small world... wow!

Meera Namia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meera Namia said...

Thanks for the translation! Wow I never knew it was a big hit over there. I am new to your blog did you just learn Japanese?

Amish Kumar said...

Dear all,
I'm Amish great fan of Super star from my childwood, here dedicating an music album

Thalaivar's D12 – A Star was Born: Third Album devoted to Demi-God of Tamil Nadu – SuperStar Rajnikanth on the occasion of 63rd B’day which falls on 12-12-12

Song 1: Koottam seru, kosham podu, starru kattu, kondattam podu

Song 2: Kalainganae... Eelainzanae...

Song 3: Kalainganae... Eelainzanae... instrumental

surely people of japan will love all these song, if possible share all your rajini fans. here the FB page link

Amish kumar

Sreekumar BA said...


Could you please provide your contact email so that I can talk about Rajani movies in Tokyo

Filmi Girl said...

You can reach me so many ways and they are all already published on this blog: twitter, FB, and my e-mail.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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