March 30, 2020
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The Rajinikanth Economy

How does Thalaivar make his money?

The Rajinikanth Economy
The Rajinikanth Economy

The hype around the launch of Kabali is another reminder about the over-the-top and maddening Rajinikanth phenomenon. Thalaivar, as he is known in the Tamil industry, has acted in more than 150 films. Behind the actor is also an astute businessman, who often takes the right calls to add to his fortune. So what does the Rajinikanth economy include? Arushi Bedi investigates.

His Fortune

Net worth as of 2015: $ 50 million

Average annual income: $ 7.4 million

Highest salaries paid for films 

  • Kabali: Rs 50 crore (Budget of film: Rs 100 crore)
  • Lingaa: Rs 60 crore (Budget: Rs 80 crore)
  • Shivaji: Rs 27 crore (Budget: Rs 60 crore)
  • Endhiran: Rs 45 crore (Budget: Rs 130 crore)

His Estate

  • Houses in Poes Garden in Chennai, a house in Pune, real estate in Hyderabad.
  • Owns a marriage hall in Chennai called Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam in Chennai.
  • His wife owns a school called the Ashram in Chennai in which he has a stake.
  • Owns two luxury cars -- an Audi exclusive and a Jaguar in metallic silver worth $92,000 – and five “regular” cars, including an Ambassador.
  • Has invested money in his daughter’s animation studio Ocher Picture Productions.

His Marketing

  • For Kabali, pre-release business has already touched Rs 180-200 crore including merchandise, distribution rights and dubbing rights.
  • The film has associated with brands such as Airtel, Air Asia (2 aircraft with 180 seats already booked), Amazon, Muthoot Fincorp (silver coins with Rajini’s face embossed), Cadbury, Shop CJ, PVR Cinemas, Emami.
  • Like most other Tamil actors, Rajinikanth does not endorse any products. He appeared in an advertisement only once in his life. The ad was for eye donation in Chennai.
  • The trailer of Endhiran was screened in Chennai theatres for a ticket price of Rs 70. All shows were sold out.
  • Has 50,000 fan clubs. The star had to put a stop to new fan clubs. He doesn’t make any money from fan associations.

His Movie Making

  • To appeal to a younger audience, he prefers younger directors for his films; including Pa Ranjith for his latest, Kabali.
  • Selects the director as well as the producer and has complete control on the pre production – including scripting, sets, costumes, casting etc. Only during production does he let the director take over.
  • Has paid back distributors on several occasions. The trend started with the film Baba in 2002. The latest film he paid distributors back for was Lingaa. The amount paid was Rs10 crore.

His Financial Woes

  • The superstar and his family is under pressure from banks as well as individual lenders and distributors to pay off hefty debts. Recent films have flopped.
  • Trouble seems to have started with the film Kochadaiiyaan, directed by Rajinikanth's daughter Soundarya Ashwin. Rajini took a loan of Rs 22.21 crore from Exim Bank which he was unable to repay. His wife’s 1.5 acre property in Padapai was put up for auction.
  • Also borrowed Rs 8 crore from independent financer Sobhan. He had to sell his property in Banjara Hills in Hyderabad to pay back the loan.
  • Lingaa also released the same year. The film was a huge flop in the box office. After several threats from distributors, he was forced to pay them Rs 10 crore.
  • According to Naman Ramachandran, who wrote the official biography of Rajinikanth, he gives half his income to charity.
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