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Decoding the cultural shock of seeing Rajinikanth bow before Yogi Adityanath

It won't be an exaggeration to say that Rajinikanth touching UP CM Yogi Adityanath's feet sent a shock wave across the entertainment and political circles. 

Decoding the cultural shock of seeing Rajinikanth bow before Yogi Adityanath
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's

Last Updated: 08.23 AM, Aug 22, 2023


Being Rajinikanth is no simple task! Every slight physical gesture he makes is placed under intense scrutiny and interpreted in numerous ways. This is one of the burdens that come with achieving superstardom. And it's only natural half of the country experienced a cultural shock seeing Rajinikanth bow down and touch Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's feet last week. 

It was supposed to be a causal screening of Rajinikanth's latest movie Jailer in Lucknow . But, the drama played out at the doorsteps of Yogi Adityanath's official residence, far away from the silver screen, as Rajinikanth, 72, stepped out of the car, walked straight to the chief minister, aged 51, and touched his feet without any hesitation. It won't be an exaggeration to say it sent a shock wave across the entertainment and political circles. 

When asked to explain the gesture toward the UP CM upon returning to Chennai, Rajinikanth reasoned, "It's my habit to touch the feet of yogis and sanyasis, even if they are younger than me. That's what I did."

Most, if not all, view Yogi Adityanath, foremost, as a political leader and the head of a state government. His identity as the head priest of the Gorakhnath Math is not common knowledge in the southern states, where people are struggling to make sense of Rajinikanth's actions. For many, he's seen as a Hindutva hardliner with a controversial governing style. Yogi Adityanath's priest identity is eclipsed by his strong political persona. The question arises: did Rajinikanth bow to priest Yogi Adityanath or politician Yogi Adityanath? This ambiguity has led to startling reactions to the incident.

Rajinikanth on Himalayan retreat. (Photo: Twitter/BinaryPost001)
Rajinikanth on Himalayan retreat. (Photo: Twitter/BinaryPost001)

It's worth noting that Rajinikanth has been travelling to the Himalayas for years in his pursuit of spiritual growth. These trips were typically low-key affairs; unless you were in Rajinikanth's inner circle, you likely wouldn't know about these spiritual retreats. In fact, this air of seclusion added a touch of mystery to Rajinikanth's personal life, enhancing the aura of his stardom. Rajinikanth always seemed indifferent to the possibility of losing his superstar status. It was as if he wore the Superstar crown with detachment. It felt like he could happily trade his superstardom for an anonymous life that would allow him to be himself.

Old photos of Rajinikanth's Himalayan journeys depicted a man of austerity who never let fame get to his head. This was a person who was moving away from materialistic wealth and success in search of something intangible and enigmatic. Rajinikanth has always been a bundle of contradictions. He sought inner peace and purpose in life through silence and as much anonymity as he could muster.

However, this time, there was something very different about Rajinikanth's spiritual retreat. There was an excessive amount of media attention from the very start, with every aspect of his Himalayan trek extensively documented, recorded, and shared online for all to see and discuss. Mobile phone cameras, affordable internet access, and free social media platforms removed the mystery from Rajinikanth's Himalayan visits.

That's why it came as a culture shock for many to witness Rajinikanth's humility up close. Especially, at a time when everyone is still grooving to the pulsating Hukum number, which has become the bonafide anthem for Rajinikanth's die-hard fans. In the song, lyricist Super Subu encapsulated the Rajinikanth phenomenon and his enduring charm that appeals to people across generations. 


While Rajinikanth might consider himself an ordinary human with his own set of imperfections, whether or not he likes it, he has a mythical image to live up to. For millions of people across the world, he's a demigod. 

Seeing Rajinikanth humble himself in front of anyone, especially under the thick cloud of ambiguity, is not an easy image to digest. 

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