Memoirs with the superstar

Memoirs with the superstar

From the albums

Memoirs with the superstar

The coloured photograph was taken during Rajani sir’s visit to the city during 1977-78 at Hotel Chalukya. He was here to attend a fundraising musical event, organised at Sri Kanteerava Stadium, to aid the Andhra Pradesh cyclone relief fund.

 The black-and-white photograph with Rajinikanth and me was taken during the house-warming ceremony of the actor’s renovated house in 1974 in Hanumantha Nagar.

 My close friend Gopal Rao Nallode, a cousin of Rajini sir, was instrumental in introducing me to him.

It was way back in the early 1970s and nobody could have imagined then that ‘Thalaiva’ would become one of the most admired personalities in the film industry. The way Rajini sir interacted with us and treated us with utmost love and affection can never be expressed in words. We have been very lucky to be associated with him indeed.

Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, fondly known as ‘Rajinikanth’, had a passion for acting since childhood, which we feel was the stepping stone to his stardom.

Wearing glasses in his own signature style, holding the cigarette to his mouth in a very unique way, brisk walking style and spontaneous dialogue delivery — I remember all these distinctly.

He comes to mind as a very jovial person, brimming with laughter and making others feel comfortable. My memories with him are still very green. I remember him, Gopal Rao, his elder brother Satyanarayana Rao Gaekwad, myself and others used to sing the devotional songs of Raghavendra sung by Dr Rajkumar in chorus.

Rajinikanth has not forgotten his early days of struggle and even today, he respects all those who helped him climb the ladder of success. He had established a firm foot in the film industries of other languages and that by no means is a small achievement! We were all very happy when he was recently conferred with the Padma Bhushan by President Pranab Mukherjee.

I remember once in the 70s, when we visited him in Chennai, all of us were sitting and discussing some important issues. Suddenly, Rajini sir got up and asked me to come out with him. Though there were cars waiting for him, he started his green Vespa scooter and asked me to sit at the back. I really cherished those lovely moments not knowing where we were heading.

He rode the scooter all over Chennai, moving towards Stella Maris College and then to drive in Woodlands Restaurant. We had snacks and coffee and by the time we finished, many young boys and girls surrounded him asking for an autograph and photographs. After going back to Royapettah, he immediately switched to his professional mode. He was a totally different person on the sets, very serious about his role and conscious about his tasks.

I also had the privilege of attending his daughter Aishwarya’s wedding (married to actor Dhanush). It was a beautiful event attended by numerous celebrities from various film industries. The then chief minister of Tamil Nadu Dr Karunanidhi and his cabinet ministers were also present.

Another wonderful quality of Rajini sir is that he is always ready to lend his help for a good cause. The biggest example of that is his adoption of librarian Kalyanasundaram as his father. Kalyanasundaram worked for 30 years and spent his entire salary to help the needy. He also worked in a hotel to meet his personal needs and donated his pension amount to the needy. Moved by his passion to help others, Rajini sir adopted him.

In the superstar’s words, ‘The beauty of service lies in sharing and giving’. According to him, it need not be only in terms of money; even guiding a needy person on the correct path is a service. His compassion is vast and even after climbing the ladder of success, he continues to be a simple man, always concerned about friends, relatives and colleagues.

I hope he remains as hail and hearty as ever and always in good spirits. I would like to end by wishing him all the very best for his upcoming project ‘Kabali’ and hope that it’s a great success.

Raju Chandrashekar
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