We are merely days away from the launch of Rajinikanth’s next blockbuster, “Kabali.” With music by Santhosh Narayan, the trailer has already been a huge hit racking over 20 million views in the matter of weeks. The songs have also become a rage with its innovative and local sounds concocted by Santhosh. While we wait with bated breath for the movie, here is a trip down the memory lane of Rajinikanth’s introduction songs over the years.
A big part of the allure of many a Rajini movie has been the title track, also known as the “Rajini intro song” This song which appears at the beginning of the movie is what introduces the Superstar to its audience. It typically boasts a strong message and is set to peppy beats. This is after all the song that will resonate from cities to towns to villages for months to come. Many other stars have tried the intro song to limited success. No one does style like Rajini and a song that is designed to showcase all of that is just a perfect start to the movie. This song is the life-sized portrait of the star in that movie, captured in a Pallavi and a couple of charanams. From the dozens of Raja compositions to the few Deva and ARR pieces, this intro song stands as the historical reference to the movie for years to come.
In the first of a two part series, I am going to attempt to chronicle some of the most enjoyable Rajini intro songs from the eighties. This is a daunting task. As I added one, yet another popped up as equally worthy. In the end, this is not a “best ever” list. Instead, it is what has lasted all these years, fresh in my memory. So here we go.
While there will never be the one greatest intro song, there has never been a dispute on the one that started it all. Rajini’s first major blockbuster, the one that catapulted him to superstardom also bore testimony to his first ever intro song. “Podhuvaga en manasu” from “Murattukalai” has its place in the books. And it shall never be forgotten. Only played over and over again.
As a side note, there is the awesome intro song, “Engeyum Eppodhum” for a Rajini movie in “Ninaithale Inikkum” but Rajini really plays a secondary role in the movie and the song isn’t shown as a classic Rajini intro piece. But an awesome song nevertheless. As a side, side note, if you are looking for a non-song BGM driven start to a Rajini movie that is epic, look no further than Netrikkan.
After the 1980 release, Murattu Kalai, Rajini had a slew of releases in the next few years that didn’t make use of the intro song to full effect. Surprising move and maybe a missed opportunity in hindsight. Audience had to wait three long years before the next big intro song kicked in. And what a song it was. Set to tune by Raja and sung with full gusto by Malaysia Vasudevan in a career defining song, “Aasai Nooruvagai” from Adutha Varisu deliver a blockbuster for Rajini. In today’s terms, it doesn’t carry the message driven introduction but it is a powerful entrance if any. And yes, with a lot of glitter ?
This was followed by yet another 3 years of no solid Rajini intro song (while he churned out half a dozen movies a year, many of which were big hits). The next intro song was ironically for a damp squib of a movie, Maaveeran where the intro song doesn’t kick in until about 30 minutes of the movie. This song, “Vangada Valanga” in a rudimentary form offers the hero glorifying lyrics that will come to be a signature trait of the intro song in future years. The year 1987 brought us Velaikkaran which kicked off with a message-laden “Velai illadhavan” While 1988 boasted big hits in the form of “Guru Sishyan” and “Dharmathin Thalaivan”,and early 1989 gave us the beautiful “Malayala Karayoram” from “Rajathi Raja”.
One could argue that this was the decade that had Rajini in his full glory, embracing his super stardom carefully constructed over the previous decade. It all started with this setup.
“Ethanai per senjanga?”
Then this happens. The rest as they was history. This also kicked off a prolific run of intro songs that continue to age well.
The Rajini intro songs of the nineties and the 21st century. Coming soon….