Rajinikanth’s biggest fan? Dubai restaurant celebrates Indian superstar's birthday with 70 cakes

Rajinikanth 24/7, launched by Savitha Jayaraman, opens on December 12

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Indian superstar Rajinikanth has always commanded a strong following across South India, and that popularity is spilling over to the UAE. Eatery Rajinikanth 24/7 is all set to open in Dubai's Royal Ascot Hotel in Mankhool on Thursday, December 12 - which happens to be the actor's birthday (although there has been some debate over whether he turns 69 or 70).

The restaurant, which is in its soft-launch phase, took to bringing in Rajinikanth's birthday in a grand way indeed. It commissioned 70 butterscotch cakes to be baked by the Royal Ascot Hotel, which were cut at midnight and distributed to guests.

“We hadn’t really planned to have such a party,” says restaurant founder Savitha Jayaraman. “We had organised an evening of festivities and invited people to celebrate. But when the clock struck midnight, people started dancing. It went a bit haywire - but in a good way!”

The festivities, that started at 10pm on Wednesday, December 11, and went on until about 1.30am, included a movie screening, goody bags, giveaways, Rajinikanth masks and even a street artist who made a Rajinikanth portrait in under six minutes. Jayaraman doesn’t recall the exact number of people who turned up to celebrate - but mentions that 270 goody bags were distributed over the course of the night.

"I was surprised by the turnout, considering that it was a weekday, and the restaurant has not even had its official launch," she says. "There were several older couples who were so excited to get a chance to celebrate. That is the power of Rajinikanth - he brings everyone together."

Savitha Jayaraman got a chance to meet Rajinikanth earlier this year
Savitha Jayaraman got a chance to meet Rajinikanth earlier this year

The Rajinikanth restaurant is Jeyaraman’s first foray in the food industry. As a huge fan of the star, it was natural for her to theme the eatery around him, although she "wasn’t sure how effective it would be overseas”. But as word spread of a restaurant dedicated to the star that was opening in Dubai, news of the restaurant went viral in South India, which led to the actor himself requested a meeting with Jeyaraman earlier this year.

So, what was it like meeting her icon? “Electrifying,” says Jayaraman. “Never in my wildest dreams had I thought I’d get a chance to meet him. And then I got a call saying that he wanted to meet me. Later, I was told that he hardly ever chats with fans that long. It was an experience that I still can’t really explain.”

The restaurant serves street food from Tamil Nadu as well as some favourites from Kerala and Karnataka. “We want it to remind South Indians of food prepared by their grandmothers and mothers – good home food that connects people."