Let me start this review with a disclaimer: I am not a huge fan of Rajinkanth.Have never been.However, i can’t not acknowledge this Man’s success.Affectionately called the superstar,Rajini has 69,000 fan clubs dedicated to him.Despite his average looks & acting abilities, Rajini has almost a “GOD” status in Tamil Nadu. I was curious about his life and picked up the book to get to know the “star” more!.
The book has been written by Gayathri Shreekanth, who prefers to be referred to as an ophthalmologist turned Writer. I can’t fathom how the lady has the guts to call herself a writer.My hand itched ,wanting to correct the gazillion typo errors, misspellings,gross grammatical errors and horrendous formatting that the book is littered with..Throughout the book i wondered why the editor didn’t try to make any corrections to the glaring mistakes.Either the writing was so bad to begin with that the editor gave up trying to make it better or that the editor was so bad that he/she didn’t find anything amiss.
However,the writing style ,i must confess is racy,almost like a Rajinikanth movie.The book has more dialogues than what you would normally associate with a biography.The book’s appeal is the extraordinary Rags to riches story of Rajinikanth,a story that has never failed to evoke sympathy and awe since time immemorial.After a few pages of nit-picking,I decided to forget about the almost-offensive grammar and concentrate of the tidbits and anecdotes shared in the book. That’s when i found that the book was charming and that it was literally growing on me..Wasn’t that how most Rajinikanth movies were?..Entertainment above anything else!.
Gayathri describes Rajini’s childhood and his struggle to become an actor very well. Another aspect i liked about the book was that it was not an excuse to extoll the virtues of Rajini,but also tackled various negative aspects about him. I didn’t know that Rajini took to drinking when he was very young(around 12years).His infamous nervous breakdown is also covered in great detail in the book.
I read somewhere that the book was written without Gayathri ever making a single visit to see Rajinikant.That does make me wonder whether the material in the book is mostly hearsay/googled!. However,several other co-stars like Siva Kumar,Sri Priya ,Kushboo and many directors have shared their candid opinions about him in the book.Though,the friendship between Kamal and Rajini has been dealt very briefly,more inputs from Kamal is ostensibly missing.
Little Shivaji’s (Rajini’s real name) naughty antics leave you grinning ear to ear and Gayathri has done justice to capture this part of the Superstar’s life very well.It’s when the story moves to his adulthood that things start getting muddled as the narrative bounces between time periods and gets as choppy as it possibly can.One startling aspect that jumps at you is Rajini’s closeness with his friends.At every juncture,he has had friends who have supported and egged him on to success.How else can you explain someone with mediocre looks and talent become such a sensation?.It is also a well known fact that director KB(K.Balachander)’s magical wand was instrumental in sculpting Rajini’s career and this aspect has also been covered in the book.KB has not only been a mentor but has also helped Rajini on personal issues (like the time Rajini wanted to give up acting,get a divorce and embrace sainthood).Rajinikanth’s brush with spirituality is also broached upon in great detail.I expected more trivia about his working life ,but was not too dissapointed with the fare Gayathri had to offer.
The almost fairytale like story of Rajinikanth’s marriage to his wife Latha also makes one wonder about various facets to Rajini. One one hand he is this rough,unpolished actor brimming with vices and on the other hand, he vows to unconditionally love and marry a college girl he barely knows.I was also surprised to know that at one point in time Rajini was considered highly arrogant and irresponsible in the industry.And,look how he has metomorphised into the most loved actor in Tamilnadu !.
Rajini’s political ambitions or the lack thereof have also been elaborated in the book. I was amused at the power-play incidents between Dr.Ramadoss of PMK and Rajini outlined in the book.Several ego-centric incidents involving Jayalalitha and Rajini are also mentioned in the book.The most amusing one is when Rajini gets miffed when he is made to wait for almost half hour as the then-CM,Jayalalitha was traveling through that route. Traffic was piling up and people were made to wait incessantly. Rajini gets out of the car and stands in the middle of the road making people run frantically towards him to get his autograph.The traffic police go bonkers and don’t know how to control the situation.Finally they hold Jayalalitha’s vehicle and let Rajinikanth’s car leave.
This book is definitely for hard-core Rajinikanth’s fans-For people whom content would matter moreover form.As i finished reading the book i couldn’t stop wondering how luck and risk-taking behavior has catapulted a boy who started his career lifting heavy gunny bags and sacks to a supernova beyond description.
A true phenomenon,who decidedly deserves a better written book!.
2/5 for the writing style
3/5 for the wealth of information it shares about the star.
Ok read. If you are a purist who insists on good grammar, please stay away from this book.If you like a rollicking,fun read with bad grammar,please go pick it up !;-)