Days before its release, superstar Rajinikanth's latest movie Kabali has become the talk of the town. From companies declaring holiday on June 22 to fans flying down from abroad to watch the First Day First Show (FDFS), fans have made the release a celebration. Fans and industry pundits alike seem to be sure that the gangster-drama film, written and directed by Pa. Ranjith, will be a hit. While the fans believe that their 'Thalaivar' can make no mistake, not every Rajni movie has met with success at the box office. The superstar had his own share of duds, too.
Lingaa, released in 2014, had the superstar playing the role of a petty thief who undergoes a change of heart after learning about his do-gooder grandfather who built a dam. The film had everything that would please hardcore Rajini fans, including catchy one-liners, stunning cinematography and music by A.R. Rahman, but suffered from a predictable story. The length of the film (about three hours) too didn't work in its favour. Despite having the 'largest opening day for a South Indian film as it earned Rs 2 crore', the film managed to be only an average grosser and failed to recover its distribution cost. The distributors claimed that after 25 days of its release, the film was able to fetch only 30 per cent of the down payment, forcing the actor to refund one-third of the Rs 33 crore loss that the distributors reportedly suffered.
Remake of Malayalam superhit Kadha Parayumbol, Kuselan disappointed Rajini fans. Although the film was touted as a Rajinikanth starrer, the actor had only an extended cameo in the film which had Pasupathy in the lead. To the disappointment of fans, 'Thalaivar' had no punch dialogues or fights in the film. Irrespective of an impressive storyline, the film did not do well in the box office. Kuselan was also mired in controversy after the superstar took on Karnataka politicians over the state's stand on Hogenakkal Falls water dispute during the time. After he was threatened that Kuselan will be boycotted by people in the state, he was forced to offer an apology.
Baba was a film that proved a bit too costly for the superstar. Written and produced by the actor himself, the movie chronicles the transformation of a care-free atheist, played by Rajinikanth, to a believer who uses the blessings that has been granted to him by a sage to change the lives of those around him. Although the film was released amid huge fanfare, Baba's uneven pace and length worked against it, making it arguably one of the biggest flops of his career. The actor was forced to refund the money spent by the distributors as the film failed to collect the revenue it was expected to gain.
Another film that was written and produced by Thalaivar himself but failed to set the cash registrars ringing was Valli. The story of a young woman who avenges the man who cheated her, Valli had the superstar in an extended cameo. The film, released in 1993, bombed at the box office and the actor suffered huge losses.
Nattukku Oru Nallavan
This film was a disaster in all the three languages—Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. Nattukku Oru Nallavan had an honest cop, played by the superstar, taking on the organ transplant mafia. To the relief of Rajinikanth, his next flick was Thalapathi which was a critical and commercial success.