Mumbai: Neither rain nor the early morning chill could dent the spirit of Rajinikanth fans who came in large numbers to watch the superstar’s latest Kaala first day first show.

As the admirers celebrated the release of the much-awaited film by dancing to the beat of the drums, the skies too opened up to match the footsteps of Rajini lovers.

Rajini loyalists started streaming into one of the suburban multiplexes here as early as 12am, holding their special “fans only" tickets with a poster of Kaala imprinted on them. By 5am, as many as 1,000 fans started thronging the multiplex. Three police jeeps and a police van were stationed outside the venue for security reasons.

Mumbai rains tried to put a dampener on what could inarguably be called a festival, but failed to match the frenzy of ardent Thalaivar fans. Men were dressed in suits, blazers and traditional lungi, and the women draped in saris with ‘gajra’-adorned hair.

“Rajini sir is not a star, he is our God. He is a culture in himself. I inherited my love for him from my parents. They will be proud of me," said a 20-year-old fan from the Tamil stronghold of Dharavi who arrived at midnight to catch the first show at 6am at the theatre with his friends.

Over 50 women, dressed in traditional south Indian yellow sari, walked from a temple to the theatre to show their devotion for the actor. Fans, with Rajinikanth’s portrait painted on their chests and some even replicating his Kaala look—black shirt, black lungi and a white beard—gathered near the 67 feet poster of the actor, which was garlanded, signalling the beginning of the day and the film’s first show.

“The poster is 67 feet because Rajini is 67 years old. We were coordinating over this since months and the auspicious day is finally here. We have prayed for him, danced for him, now we, will cheer for him," Santosh, a member of Rajini fan club, said.

When pointed out that the collection of his last few films have not matched to the stardom the actor enjoys, the fan replied, “Can anything ever hurt God? Nothing. His films are our blessings and we are here to take it."

Meanwhile in Karnataka, widespread protests by pro-Kannada activists marred the screening of the film in most parts of the state. Cinema halls, where it was to be screened, refused to show the film, leaving cinema goers, especially diehard fans of the Tamil superstar, disappointed.

Demonstrations were held in front of all the theatres in the city where the film was to be screened. Agitators were seen requesting the 67-year-old actor’s fans not to watch the movie for the sake of their Kannada brethren fighting for Cauvery water. They also asked them to come together to show solidarity to the farmers who have been deprived of Cauvery river water.

Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had requested the distributor of Kaala not to release it in “this kind of atmosphere," but said his government would follow the high court order on the issue. The Karnataka High Court had on 5 June directed the state government to provide necessary security for the peaceful release of Kaala.

Directed by Pa Ranjith, Kaala features Rajinikanth as a powerful don living in the slums of Dharavi. The film also features Nana Patekar, Huma Qureshi and Anjali Patil.

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