Imagine getting a quarter of a million followers on Twitter – with just one
tweet. That’s what happens when you’re Kollywood’s biggest film star.
India’s Twitter users may still be busy with the latest ups and downs of the country’s longest ever general election, but film superstar Rajinikanth has proved a welcome distraction. He has surprised India’s social media community by getting tens of thousands of followers before he’d even said anything on the social network
While most people globally might equate Indian cinema with Bollywood – the Hindi-language film industry of Mumbai – Rajinikanth hails from the “Kollywood” industry of Tamil films from India’s south. He has a huge global fan base and was the star of science fiction blockbuster Endhiran (Robot), believed to be the most expensive and highest grossing film in Indian history.
His first – and thus far only – message, thanking God for his digital presence, has now been retweeted more than 11,000 times. He’s also been mentioned by the network itself – Twitter’s official India account felt moved to welcome him, and as of Tuesday evening, he had amassed almost 250,000 followers, some of whom joked that Twitter had in fact joined Rajinikanth, not the other way round
But it hasn’t all been adulation – some have pointed out that the timing of his Twitter debut may be linked to the fact Rajinikanth’s next film, Kochadaiiyaan, is due out in the coming days. Indeed, his wallpaper is a large poster for the film. “These are normal gimmicks employed by film personalities before a film release,” commentator and Tamil cinema observer Gnani Sankaran told BBC Hindi’s Imran Qureshi. “He used to make a political comment before his movie release. This time he has used one section of the media, the social media,” he said.
Business strategy specialist Harish Bijoor says that Rajinikanth is seen as “a god in Tamil Nadu, as someone who can do no wrong”. Bijoor was one of the first to welcome Rajinikanth’s entry to Twitter but laments the fact that his account is reportedly being handled by a PR company. “This is a very negative trend. Twitter is meant to be a one-to-one medium. If it’s an agency handling it, it becomes a broadcast medium. That’s propaganda.”