Chennai, June 13 (IANS) Alcohol, milk, coconuts and fruits were offered to self-professed atheist screen god Kamal Haasan here Friday by thousands of crazy fans as Tamil movie "Dasavathaaram", reputedly the costliest film to be made in India, opened in over 100 screens.
To the accompaniment of folk, traditional and Western types of music, Kamal's faithful flock burst crackers and prostrated before pictures as well as carboard cut-outs of the acclaimed actor in obeisance.
Chennai appeared to have come under the spell of the 165-minute scientific-thriller in which Kamal plays 10 different roles, ranging from a scientist to a terrorist. The city has been plastered with the movie's posters. Tamil TV channels promoted the film in a big way.
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In one part of the city, hundreds hailed the Universal Star's latest celluloid avatar by burning blobs of camphor on their palms, unmindful of the searing pain, and displayed tattoos on arms and torsos of their hero.
As images of Kamal appeared on screen, fans flung loose change, slivers of lottery and movie tickets as well as currency notes to express their total faith in the icon.
Wolf whistles, catcalls and wild dances disturbed neutral viewers as Kamal began gallivanting with sirens Asin and Mallika Sherawat.
Although men outnumbered women in theatres and at the crazy celebrations, a fair sprinkling of female fans were seen swooning over the rippling muscles of different Kamals captured by the camera.
"This kind of fanatic endorsement of a 54-year-old star's 'eternal youth' is simply uncalled for," said a disgusted K. Karuppusamy, who however identified himself as an admirer of the thespian's histrionics.
Prashanth Raja, a student of engineering, said: "It is a very good film. Kamal Haasan plays 10 different roles. But I liked him as a scientist and terrorist. In fact he is awesome as a terrorist. The music is excellent. However, the film did not require any actress."
Another young fan, who identified himself as Asim, also paid glowing tributes to Kamal.
"After a long time Kamal Haasan has satisfied his fans," Asim told IANS. "He is the USP of the film. I loved watching him."
As all this happened, producer and distributor "Oscar" (renamed "Aaskar" to beat the legal rap emanating from Hollywood) Ravichandran remained beyond the reach of journalists.
While reviewers had to wait for the third show of the day to express their verdict one way or other, fans pouring out of cinemas after the first show that began at 8 a.m. danced merrily, proclaiming the release a "smash hit" to television cameras waiting outside.
The movie, produced in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, is said to have cost Rs.1.3 billion. The Telugu version was also released Friday. The Hindi version will follow in two weeks.
Anjesh, a film goer, tried to explain the crazy scenes in Chennai: "While Rajnikant is known for his style, Kamal Haasan is known for his powerful performances. Today is a big day for his fans."