For the Love of Rajinikanth: Ad-Man Beats Memory Loss for Kabali
Raj’s first instinct was to refuse the job. But the filmmaker gave him time to re-learn all that he had forgotten.
In the mad world of advertising, creative head Vinci Raj is known not just for his many accolades, but for being a diehard Rajinikanth fan. But little did the Bengaluru-based ad-man realise that his lifelong dream of meeting the Tamil superstar would one day come true.
Thirty-five-year-old Vinci Raj is the man behind the Kabali poster. But the journey to meet his Thalaivar was far from easy. A head injury following a car crash near Manipal last year left him with short-term memory loss. Having quit his advertising job shortly before the accident, Raj was left completely helpless. It was during this time that filmmaker Pa. Ranjith gave him a new lease of life.
I had difficulty remembering some of my friends. It was only after a month that I realised I had even met with an accident.Vinci Raj
Vinci Raj entered the film industry by chance. His friend, Moses, who was working with Pa. Ranjith had introduced him to the director a few years ago. Ranjith, who was making his debut film Attakathi, offered Raj the opportunity to design the poster. There was no looking back after that. He has gone on to design the poster of several of producer CV Kumar’s films.
As Raj sat at home, recovering from his injury, Ranjith approached him with Kabali , a film starring his Thalaivar. He notes, “It was an opportunity of a lifetime. I was in such a situation that I had lost everything.” But Raj’s first instinct was not to accept the job. He suggested Ranjith approach another designer. But the filmmaker refused to accept his answer and instead gave him time to re-learn all that he had forgotten following the car crash.
I thought I wouldn’t be able to do justice for the film. I told him the head injury had caused me to forget a lot of the software I had learnt.Raj
On the day of the Kabali shoot, Raj’s fan moment turned to reality when he met the superstar for the first time. “Sir, ungala paathu naan valurnthen” (Sir, I grew up watching you), were his first words to Rajinikanth. The star smiled and offered, “Whatever you feel like doing, we will do.”
Calling Rajini a “professional” and a “simple person”, words often used to describe the superstar, Raj recollected that he showed the actor the layout of the shoot on his mobile phone. The 65-year-old would give the photographer the perfect frame in just two shots. “He is so experienced he knows exactly what the fans want. All the extra shots he gave us were a bonus,” explains Raj.
The designer made 10 posters for Kabali. There are two ‘stylised’ shots, like the one featuring Rajinikanth sitting cross-legged on a reclining chair with the Kuala Lumpur skyline behind him. The rest are based on ideas which attempt to evoke curiosity in the film, he says. When the first-look poster of Kabali released last September, Raj’s hard work had paid off. Fans were left longing for more.
With just weeks to go for Kabali’’ s release, the designer says, that like any diehard fan of the superstar, he aims to be in Chennai to watch the film, “first day, first show”. And does he hope to work with Rajinikanth again? “If I have luck, I will get to meet him,” says Vinci Raj, with all of the humility of his Thalaivar.
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