Tamil weeklies Ananda Vikatan and Kumudam are carrying ‘exclusive,’ cover stories in a series format on film actor Rajnikant. Ananda Vikatan is the largest circulated weekly in Tamil. And Kumudam, which was until recently the largest circulated, has the largest readership in the state in the language.
Speaking to exchange4media, Dr. S A P Jawahar Palaniappan (MD), Chairman of Kumudam Publications, said, “Both the Vikatan and us had very different angles to our stories on Rajnikant. I don’t think the magazines are competing with each other, and the commonality has to do with his recent movie being a huge hit. Normally, the holiday period is a bit sluggish for magazines, but this has been a turnaround phase.”
While he did share that the issue was a sell-out, there was no dramatic change in the numbers, he added.
As reported by exchange4media on May 24, 2005, Ananda Vikatan started a series on the trail of Tamil film actor Rajinikant on his much-hyped pilgrimage to the Himalayas. Just a week later, Kumudam had on its cover the super star with the ‘Exclusive’ tag, revealing the secret behind the coining of what is probably the most popular word (from film dialogues at least) in the state today. And both the publications claim that their past issues have met with enormous success. While one can only agree with them on the success, one also wonders how long the Rajnikant magic can boost the sale of the two weeklies.
Ananda Vikatan had a first-mover advantage with the actor-series. Without sharing numbers, B Srinivasan, Joint Managing Director, Ananda Vikatan admitted to a 10 per cent rise in the number of copies printed for the second issue, all of which have ‘almost’ sold out. He said, “No numbers can be driven unless the reader sees value in the product. If sensationalism was the way out, then many products in the market should have succeeded. They have not. In the case of Rajnikant, there is so much to talk about the man in any case.”
In the last issue (first of its series on the actor), Kumudam has indicated that its series too will focus on the spiritual side of Rajnikant from the next issue on. The difference is that while Kumudam’s cover story was in a Q&A format, Ananda Vikatan’s was in the form of a first-hand account of a fellow traveler. But how long can this continue to inspire even the diehard fans of the screen icon?
Palaniappan said, “I think we are looking at continuing with the spiritual theme for a number of issues. But I am looking at a number of weeks and not months on end. In the next one or two weeks, we are planning to bring out a special issue. While I cannot disclose the theme now, I would say that a number of interesting things will be introduced very soon.”
Said Srinivasan of Vikatan, “When we brought in the element, there was novelty. Now the novelty is slowly wearing off. We’re coming up with something totally out of the box, and when we do come out with that, we foresee a further increase in numbers”.
One thing is certain: Both the leading weeklies in the state have been ignited by the one man who manages to fire the passions of his fans each time he faces the camera. And for once, he’s not just defying gravity on screen, but also helping Tamil weeklies defy the ‘summer fall’.
(Watch out for a detailed story on the topic in IMPACT, issue dated June 6 to 12, 2005)