“I do not know what the contents are,” said Cho wondering why they didn’t give a copy of the book ‘The Name is Rajinikanth’ though they wanted him to speak on the occasion of its launch last week.
A little later, the author’s husband admitted: “We were scared about he would say.”
On reading the book, you realise they needn’t have worried.
The larger-than-life true story by itself more than makes up for the flaws in its telling. The compilation of the Superstar’s filmography with plot summaries and release dates, makes the book a ready reckoner for hardcore fans and trivia buffs.
Yes, it does read like a flippant novel that’s been compiled from blog posts with spelling inconsistencies, punctuation errors and haphazard non-linear structuring-without-a-cause.
Gayathri Sreekanth, the author of the book, explains: “Keeping in mind his personality, I wanted to make it racy. I wanted it to read like a screenplay.”
And, as D.R.Karthikeyan, former CBI director and head of Special Investigation Team probing the Rajiv Gandhi assassination understates, the book sure can do with a little editing.
“The credibility of the book comes out because she was prepared to find out his own failings he admits in his life. One thing about Rajni is that he’s not a hypocrite. He has the courage to admit whatever has happened in his life and whatever he is. That’s his greatest quality and that’s what endears him to millions of people,” notes Karthikeyan.
“The book deals in an interesting way, the transformation of an ordinary looking, not extraordinarily talented actor, born from a poor family, highly mischievous in his younger days, into a superhero with a massive fan following,” adds the outspoken police officer.
“Karthikeyan has read the book obviously,” political commentator and journalist Cho said at the book launch. “He cannot wait for the release. As a policeman, he must be allergic to word ‘release’,” he quipped as the crowd erupted into laughter.
“To know Rajnikant as a friend is a matter of pride for me,” said Cho. “Can anyone define him? I do not know. He’s in the show business. But, he’s not a showman. He makes political comments now and then when he chooses. But, he’s not a politician. He talks spiritualism. But he’s not a guru or an acharya. So whatever he does is different from whatever he is. Essentially, he’s in my mind, an act of God.”
True to that quote, the book gives us a glimpse of what went into the making of the Superstar and his inexplicable persona. The book dwells on the paradox that he is, and provides an insight into his personal and professional crises, also touching upon issues close to his heart – spirituality and politics.
As the book hits the stands and with the publishers having plans of translating it into Tamil, the next round of persuasion for Superstar to join politics has already started.
“What is democracy ultimately,” asks Karthikeyan. “Do you have the support, confidence and strength of the largest number of people? That’s the only qualification. Nobody is born with experience of administration. A person who can inspire thousands of people, lakhs of people is certainly entitled to be in politics.”
But does the Superstar ever give in to such pressure?
Cho gives us an insight: “The Mahabharatha says of a king: Do not do anything all by yourself. Consult a chosen few and even they should not know what decision you’ve taken. So though as close friends we give our opinions on his film scripts, ultimately we do not know what decisions he has taken or what changes he has made till they are implemented. It’s his own decision. That’s the sign of a great manager, an administrator. To get proper advise, to sift, to sort it out and then, to make a decision of his own.”
“If Rajni enters politics, Tamil Nadu will go one step ahead of everybody,” believes Cho. “Because, basically, the man is honest. His grasp of even international issues, his concern for the common man, all this go together to make him the ideal choice. I wish he does but I do not know if he will.”
He is a man of mystery and continues to be so. It was the day of the release of a book on his life and he didn’t deem it right to be present. His daughter Soundarya was present though. “It is a great honour to be here today. On behalf of Appa, I would like to wish Gayathri and her team all the very best. Thanks,” is all she spoke.
Shorter than even soft-spoken AVM Saravanan’s brief speech where he called it “a nice book about a good man.” Apparently, Gayathri had told him that she had no problems at all putting the book together and she got all the co-operation she needed from him. “Looks like I should talk to her next time to get Superstar’s dates.”
As the book reveals, he’s not too enthusiastic about politics, signing films in a hurry or inclined towards endorsements. Cho believes this to be a saintly quality. “Any Chief Minister or Prime Minister believes that the chair is greater than him. Which is why they are afraid to leave it. But Rajni, he’s greater than everything he does,” observes Cho.
Ajay Mago, publisher of Om Books International, says that the idea to do a book on a Tamil Superstar came after Mushtaq Shiekh’s ‘Still Reading Khan’ sold over 30,000 copies. While ‘The Name is Rajinikanth’ is not exactly in the same genre, it does have a far greater appeal than any coffee table book because it’s an extraordinary story of an ordinary man – a true story of a much-celebrated Superstar who remains a reclusive enigma.
Superstar on politics (excerpts from the book):
“When you enter politics, you have to compromise. You cannot be honest and clean. It is difficult to maintain your decency and it is not easy to have principles. I also know that one person cannot change the face of politics. The system is such. The British rules, outdated as they seem, are still implemented. So unless the system changes thoroughly, it is not possible to revolutionise political transparency. Until bureaucracy exists, there will be red-tapism and well, corruption levels will continue to be higher…
My path is spiritual and acting is my profession…
But you never know what is in store tomorrow. Yesterday, I was a bus conductor. Today I am an actor. Tomorrow, who knows?”