Chennai: It has been 41 years since Rajinikanth made his debut as a film actor in “Apoorva Raagangal," a Tamil movie in which he played a minor role of an abusive husband.

As he gears up for his next outing as an ageing don who comes out of retirement to find his kidnapped daughter in “Kabali," Mint takes a look at how some of the key movies of the iconic South Indian actor have fared at the box office.

Baashha

Every Rajini movie in the past three decades has seen a lot of buzz, “especially post Baashha, the craze became huge because Rajinikanth is the biggest star," said film producer and writer Dhananjayan Govind.

Baashha, released in 1995 and directed by Suresh Krissna, broke all box office records and elevated Rajinikanth to demigod.

The movie, which sees him plays a don, has a gripping screenplay that builds up slowly to eventually reveal the true identity of the protagonist. It ran for more than a year in theatres.

Muthu

Muthu, released in the same year, crossed 175 days and was a massive hit in Japan. Then, as Rajinikanth started appearing on screen once in two or three years, the anticipation rose and movies such as Arunachalam and Padaiyappa benefited.

Baba

Baba, released in 2002, was much hyped as the Rajini- Suresh Krissna duo of Baashha came together for it. The movie sold at a price of 50 crore to distributors, grossed 35 crores and was a profitable outing. Yet, it was declared a failure, as it did not live up to the expectations. Rajini refunded the margin amount— difference between the minimum guarantee and the price paid, to the distributors and exhibitors.

Chandramukhi

Chandramukhi (2005), a remake of 1992 Malayalam film Manichitrathazhu, was duly tailored to fit the Rajinikanth image, in spite of his underplayed role. The movie, made at a budget of 19 crore, had a massive theatrical run of 890 days.

Sivaji

Sivaji, released in 2007, featured a stylish Rajinikanth and was directed by swanky S. Shankar. It made 128 crore at the box office. Kuselan, which saw Rajinikanth in a cameo the next year, was promoted well but failed to impress fans.

Enthiran

Enthiran, released in 2010 and again directed by Shankar, had a huge worldwide opening. Made at a cost of over 100 crore, it was considered India’s most expensive film at the time. Sun Pictures of the Sun TV Network produced the Rajinikanth-Aishwarya Rai starrer for 132 crore. It yielded revenue of 179 crore, according to its 2010 Q4 report.

Kochadaiiyan

Kochadaiiyan (2014), directed by Rajinikanth’s daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth, was India’s first photorealistic motion capture film. The movie, produced at a budget of 125 crore, received mixed response.

“Kochadaiiyan had everything from good script to other technical aspects. But Rajini was expected on the screen in some way and when he became an animated character, people could not digest it," admits Govind.

Lingaa

Lingaa (2014), the last outing of Rajinikanth, had one of the biggest opening weekends and emerged as a big grosser (approx 149 crore) among South Indian films that year.

But it did not end up being profitable. Rajinikanth refunded a third of 33 crore, which the distributors and exhibitors reportedly lost because of the movie.

Kabali

Kabali’s teaser has garnered over 23 million views on YouTube and one of its songs “Neruppu Da" is about to touch 8 million views.

The 159th Rajinikanth film has a relatively new director— Pa. Ranjith, who has proved himself with two films, both acclaimed commercially and critically.

“Expectation is a double edged weapon. It can cut both the ways. For some Rajini films, it has worked and for some it hasn’t," said Indian film actor and management trainer Mohan Raman.

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