January 6 was a day to remember for many Kollywood fans who had come for the one-day Natchathira Vizha 2018 Festival at Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur especially when superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan arrived together at the National Stadium in a helicopter at 5pm.
These two actors have ruled South Indian movie scene since the 1970s, and continue to do so. It is only befitting that they need not battle Saturday traffic to get to the stadium.
Kamal Haasan, wearing all white, said to the crowd: “This is a joyous occasion, to see the unity of our families (of entertainers) at one place. We are here because of your (the fans) support throughout the years. Thank you.”
Rajinikanth, in a completely black ensemble, also stated: “I was here two years ago filming Kabali and it was a wonderful experience. It’s great to be back again now for this event. Malaysia has become like my second home.”
The 67-year-old Rajinikanth has a new film out this year titled 2.0, while 63-year-old Kamal Haasan stars, directs and co-wrote his new film called Vishwaroop 2.
Some 250 South Indian actors including Satyaraj, Saroja Devi, Naser, Vishal Krishna, Vijay Sethupathi, Suriya, Karthi, Kushboo, Sarath Babu, Kajal Aggarwal, Lakshmi Rai and Vijaykumar – not to mention playback singers, directors, comedians as well as dancers from India – also participated in the festival.
“The welcome we get in Malaysia is always fantastic. The crowd here is fantastic,” multiple award-winning actor Suriya addressed the 35,000 fans in the stadium. “We always feel like we’re home in Malaysia.”
The event saw the stars and 120 Malaysian-Indian talents take part in singing, comedy skits, dance numbers, cricket and football matches throughout the day. Trailers to upcoming Tamil films, including Suriya’s Thaana Serndha Koottam, were also showcased.
This was a joint-effort between South India and Malaysia to raise funds for charities and performing arts bodies in both countries. In Malaysia, RM100,000 were given to Tamil schools, old folks home and orphanage.
Veteran actors K. Bhagyaraj and Saroja Devi celebrated their birthdays by cutting a birthday cake, serenaded by their peers and the fans.
“It’s so exciting to see so many stars at one place,” said Karthi, a fan from KL. “I hope to catch glimpses of Vijay Sethupathi, Adharvaa and Vikram.”
Fans had been steadily making their way to the venue, as early as 11am on Saturday to see their favourite actors.
Navin Kumar, 14, who made the trip from Klang with his family was excited for a chance to see Remo’s leading man Sivakarthikeyan.
“I just want a picture with actress Samantha (Akkineni),” said Gopinath, 16. Unfortunately for this fan, Samantha couldn’t make it for the event. Dhanush, who was feeling under the weather, was also a no-show.
In the morning, arrival of stars were welcomed by rows of fans who quickly captured the goings-on with their cameras and smartphones. There was also a performance of lion dance at the entrance to welcome the first batch of performers.
Ferocious beating of drums and performances marked the start of the festival at 12.30pm.
At this point, all the tickets were sold out except for VIP tickets and the cheapest ones, RM10.
“I bought my tickets online as early as last week,” said a fan who came with her mother.
All tickets were one-time entrance only, which meant audiences who came in the morning had to stay till the closing ceremony, at midnight.
Luckily they had come prepared – family with babies and youngsters had change of clothes, and all came in groups for the outing. After all, this was a chance of a lifetime.