A youtube clip of Rajnikanth's iconic cigarette toss/move (Hindi film viewers probably know this only in its elaborate form from Giraftaar (begin watching at the 1:43 mark here); followed by Satyam's comment in the context of what Shankar has made/is making of Rajni, led to the following musings:
"…and the scene illustrates the nature, and hence the limits, of gesture. That is, the gesture — which, unlike the pose, is purely itself; that is, it expresses personality, unlike the pose, which seeks to express someone else’s personality and is merely a kind of imitation — operates at the level of “as if.” We are charmed by the gesture inasmuch as it is able to be enacted as if no one were watching. This is of course not true — on film, by definition someone is watching — but for the spell onscreen to be compelling the performer must be able to enact it as if it were true. (The becomes less and less true as the gesture is transformed into the star's stock move, and, as in the scene from Giraftaar, filmmakers will often try to disguise the staleness by rendering it ever more elaborate.) This scene from Ninaithaale Inikkum (a film I haven’t seen, by the way) demonstrates that even the most gestural of stars, Rajnikanth (in the sense that no other star seems so conflatable with his gestures), is undone if the illusion is undone. The “as if” element cannot be present, because, in this scene, people are literally watching him. Also, the purity of the gesture is explicitly compromised, because, instead of existing in and of itself as it does at the beginning of the scene, the cigarette trick is impressed into the service of a goal: winning the car. The gesture, in short, is undone, and all pleasure and delight drained from it, when it is transformed into a task."