Rajinikanth's latest movie Annaatthe might not have pleased film critics, but that has not stopped it from dominating the box office.
As of Tuesday, the film's worldwide collection stands at an impressive Rs186.58 crore ($33.8 million), trade analyst Manobala Vijayabalan tweeted.
The Tamil movie is perhaps doing well because it was released during Deepavali and fans in India, especially Tamil Nadu, wanted an entertaining film to celebrate the festival after a harsh spell of Covid-19 when theatres were largely shut.
But it is receiving a hammering for its weak storyline, poor direction by Siva and contrived acting. Tamil superstar Rajinikanth himself is copping criticism for looking haggard and tired.
"Now the time has come for the Thalaiva to reassess his career. His attempts to stay eternally youthful are not working," commented film critic Subhash K. Jha.
"Sorry to say, Thalaiva can't hear the voice within which is telling him to STOP. Right now! He looks way too old to play Keerthi Suresh's brother and Nayanthara's boyfriend.
"He keeps going off-track with his improvisations which once upon a time were so spot-on they drove the audience wild. Now it's just embarrassing watching the mighty Rajinikanth trying to look …what?…45… when he is over 70 and spewing lines that spill out in a wildspin of senseless gallery-wooing.
"The overall portrait is that of an over-the-hill aged superstar trying in vain to preserve the illusion of youth by working with much younger co-stars."
Annaatthe was Rajinikanth's 168th film. The talk now in Tamil film media circles is that he will quit acting after his 170th film.
Daily Thanthi and Gulte.com reported that his 169th film will be directed by Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal fame Desingh Periyasamy and his 170th project will be directed by his son-in-law Dhanush, with his daughters Aishwarya and Soundarya financing it.
The speculation that Rajinikanth will quit acting soon has grown into overdrive after he went for a surgical procedure last month.
He was discharged from the Kauvery Hospital in Chennai on Nov 1 after a carotid artery revascularisation on Oct 28.
A smiliar health issue forced him to suddenly decide against taking a much-awaited political plunge last year.
At that time, Rajinikanth said the doctors had advised him that fluctuating blood pressure would affect his transplanted kidney.
If the latest media reports are to be believed, the actor's hectic schedule has taken a toll on his health and his doctors have advised him to rest.
So, Rajinikanth is now seriously considering retirement from acting to solely focus on his health.
In that case, Annaatthe might end up as the final project of his acting career. Or he could make token appearances in two more films.
Earlier this year it was reported that he walked out of a few film commitments.
After Annaatthe, he was supposed to play the lead role in a Kamal Haasan production to be directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj.
He had also agreed to do a project for Sun Pictures.
But he decided to pull out of both.
Tamil film media are also reporting that Rajinikanth is not considering any new scripts and has informed filmmakers and production houses, who were waiting for an opportunity to work with him, of his decision .
It now appears that Rajinikanth, who was awarded the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest cinema accolade, is coming to the end of his illustrious acting career.
Forty-five years ago, few, including the plain-looking, swarthy young Rajinikanth, would have imagined that the prestigious cinematic award would be his.
But on Monday, the 70-year-old Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, aka Rajinikanth, did just that.
And he didn't forget the people who made it possible - his brother Satyanarayana Rao, friend Raj Bahadur, mentor K. Balachander and his fans.
Indo-Asian News Service
"Now the time has come for the Thalaiva to reassess his career. His attempts to stay eternally youthful are not working. Sorry to say, Thalaiva can't hear the voice within which is telling him to STOP. Right now!" - Film critic Subhash K. Jha