Anushka Shetty (L), Rajinikanth and Sonakshi Sinha at the music launch of movie ‘Lingaa’ in November
Rajinikanth’s character Manik Baashha in the 1995 film Baashha says “Naan oru thadava sonna, nooru thadava sonna maadiri (If I say something even once, it’s as if I’ve said it a 100 times). ” Now seven film distributors of the superstar’s latest film Lingaa who are staring at what they call “colossal losses” following its turning a dud at the box office are asking Rajini to stick to his word and help them get a refund of their money. “In 2002, Rajinikanth compensated distributors when his Baba flopped. He did it in 2008 when Kuselan failed at the box office, we too have put in our hard earned money, some of us even raising it from the markets. Why can’t he intervene for us?” asked M Reuben, distributor from Kanyakumari who bought rights for 29 theatres for a whopping Rs 4.20 crores. “Nearly a month after collections have barely crossed Rs 1.50 crores.”Distributors like Reuben who have threatened to go on hunger strike outside the superstar’s house on the issue, now say that Rajinikanth should intervene to get them refunds from Eros International which was distributing the film worldwide and producer Rockline Venkatesh. “We have tried to reach out to them but they bounced us off saying these things keep happening in business,” said a livid Reuben who said any hesitation on the part of the superstar to intervene will only strengthen the whisper campaign doing the rounds. “Soundarya Rajinikanth, director of the last Rajini-film Kochadaiiyaan, is Director, Creative & Strategy Eros International Media Ltd (Eros). She also heads the company’s digital initiatives including ErosNow in South India,” said Reuben who alleged, “It is well established that Kochadaiiyan was a disaster at the box office and left huge losses in its wake. There is a feeling that those losses are being made good at our cost to help Rajanikanth’s daughter.”The film which also stars Sonkashi Sinha and has music by Madras Mozart A R Rehman ran to packed houses only on the first and second show on the first day on Dec 12. “As word spread, the show began running to empty houses and it became a horror story for distributors and theatreowners,” said Reuben. “Going by earlier films we expected that this one too will given us between 20-22% profit. But we are being bled. Let them deduct the theatre collection and return the rest. Rajinikanth should direct the production company. Will he agree to pay crores for a phone worth few hundred rupees? He has paid an all time high of Rs 60 crore. The producer and the distributing company are all sitting on their money. Why can’t they help us out.”S Ayyapan, who owns Rajas theatre in Chennai told dna, “I borrowed money at high rates from private financiers to screen Lingaa thinking this is a Rajinikanth’s movie and I’ll be able to pay off my earlier debts too. We worship him like God. Why is our God not helping us now?”dna called the Eros spokesperson for their response. After asking for an emailed query the spokesperson replied saying, “We have no direct arrangements with any of the distributors claiming a refund… that is why MG deals and refundable advance deals exist in the market and everyone entering into them across the value chain makes business choices based on perception of a film before release. In this case we had an MG deal consistent with our pre-sales strategy.”Like all things Rajini, the plot on this one also seems all ready to thicken. Watch this space.