One man, 154 films and every deadline met. Exec catches up with film critic Naman Ramachandran, the author of “Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography” at Koshy’s to know more about the man and the book.
by Sreejita Biswas
Is it a bird? A plane? Superman? Are you even kidding me? It is superstar Rajini. The man who can jump from skyscrapers, run through walls and kill an army of rather large men with just a glance. Indians swear by him and those who know him, respect him for his humility and generosity. For a man who is so much more than just the good guy in a book, it is surprising to realise that there is no comprehensive book for the world to drown in… Inspired by that very thought, Naman Ramachandran set out on an incredible journey to not just write about him, but to know him.
“It is strange and a little hard for people to believe the fact that I have met Rajinikanth exactly twice. Yes, I have spent months at his doorstep hoping to meet him eventually, but at that point of time he was recovering from a grave illness. Everyone around me told me that I, as an outsider, couldn’t be allowed into the sterile environment,” chuckles Ramachandran. “But then, he sent me a letter that said that I have his blessings to go ahead with my work.” And that was the start of a wonderful journey. “It was months later that I met him at London and that is when I realized, you don’t find Rajinikanth. He finds you if he wants to!”
Tracing back, Ramachandran started out like every other young boy with an overwhelming love for the art of cinema. “When I was really young, my mother took me to watch Ray’s Ashani Sanket (Distant Thunder). The little village in Kerala didn’t have too many theatres to boast of and Babita’s buxom poster image labeled it as one of ‘those’ films! Though my mother tried to defend it as art, my father refused to step into the theatre. Since my mother would not take a no for an answer, off I was packed with her and our driver.” And in that little movie hall which was usually reserved for soft porn flicks, Ramachandran was enlightened about a world he would soon grow to love.
His first book, “Lights, Camera, Masala: Making Movies in Mumbai” was born out of love for cinema and perhaps a little incident that shook up the former cynic in him. “A little more than a decade ago I was approached by Zee TV to shoot a full length feature film. Things were going great till we realized that our beloved producer was someone who had served time in the Tihar Jail… for fraud!” For a much younger Ramachandran, running a background check was not on the menu when he was given the opportunity to not just direct, but write the script and bring to life his own little celluloid baby. “The film is still lying around in cans, waiting for some sort of justice. But after my very own taste of disillusionment all I could do to find solace was write…” and write he did. With his first book about the intricacies of Bollywood, he bounced right back on track.
Yenna Rascala! Mind It!
The movies, the legends and more popularly, the neverending jokes is what defines Rajinikanth for us. But in his new book, Ramachandran offers us a peek into the life of a man who in one word is extraordinary.
Starting from his first film, Aboorva Raagangal, to his more recent blockbusters, Bashaa, Chandramukhi, Sivaji and Enthiran, Ramachandran has successfully captured not just the celluloid life of Rajini, but also a life that sees him donate more than 50% of his income to the needy.
The most comprehensive book on Rajinikath of all time, Ramachandran informs us that we can expect an autobiography from the superstar, “But only when he can attain the level of honest Mahatma Gandhi did while writing ‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’, he believes that fans should not be fooled into believing just the glamorous side of him,” adds the author.
The completion of the book simply meant relief for Ramachandran, “I was exhausted and relieved. The fact that I had finished it took some time to sink in.” Strangely, Ramachandran’s first moment of euphoria came only when he met Rajinikanth the second time in his pristine white office. “I was thrilled. I was standing before this incredible man who told me that he loved my book. That I think was the happiest moment associated with the entire process.” With pride being the last thing on his mind, Ramachandran tells us “I kept my pride in check and that feels good.”