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Rajinikanth gives away half his income to charities: biographer Naman Ramachandran

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Dec 14, 2012 at 05:30pm IST

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Rajinikanth is, quite simply, the biggest superstar cinema-crazy India has ever seen. His stylized dialogues and screen mannerisms are legion, and his guy next door-cum-superhero image has found a hysterically appreciative following among millions of moviegoers. Naman Ramachandran's marvellous biography recounts Rajini's career in meticulous detail, tracing his incredible cinematic journey from his very first film Apoorva Ragangal in 1975 to memorable forays into Bollywood like Andhaa Kanoon and Hum, from landmark films like Billa, Thalapathi and Annamalai to the mega successes of Baasha, Muthu, Padayappa, Chandramukhi, Sivaji and Enthiran. Along the way, the book provides rare insights into the Thalaivar's personal life, from his childhood days to his times of struggle-when he was still Sivaji Rao Gaekwad-and then his eventual stardom: revealing how a legend was born. Rajinikanth has not written his memoirs; this book is the closest we are likely to get to the definitive Rajini story.

The author, Naman Ramachandran, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on his book 'Rajinikanth - The Definitive Biography'.

Q. Can we buy this book online? Asked by: subramani

Rajinikanth gives away half his income to charities: biographer Naman Ramachandran

Rajinikanth's biographer Naman Ramachandran, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on his book and more.

A. Yes, you can buy it on the Flipkart and Landmark websites in India and Amazon.co.uk in the UK and Amazon.com in the US.

Q. Project Rana stands dropped? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. As per the speech Thalaivar gave to his fans last night in Chennai, Rana is currently on the back burner.

Q. During his troubled periods was it due to industry pressure or political pressure? Who showed him the way to Mantralaya? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. It was due to industry pressure, according to his brother Satyanarayana. Sri Raghavendra was an inspiration from early childhood.

Q. One of the great traits of the Superstar on screen, is the way he handles comedy. He is outstanding and very easily evokes laughter. How is he in his personal life, does he have a great sense of humour Asked by: Narayan

A. He does indeed have a great, self-effacing sense of humour.

Q. How much does Rajani credit his success to KB the director who spotted the talent in him? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Rajini credits his success completely to KB sir and considers him his mentor even today.

Q. By not entering into politics or getting his fan's association more of open service organisation, is Rajini allowing a flood of human resource go waste,who could be used for building a good society. ? Even without politics he can chanelise the group into a NGO? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. That's something that Rajini himself has to comment on. I cannot speak for him.

Q. Does this book reveal any secrets of Rajni sir, which the world still does not know? Can we expect anything spicy? Asked by: RajniFans

A. Wouldn't say secrets, but definitely some unknown facets.

Q. Do we have an e-book facility? Asked by: subramani

A. Penguin is planning an e-book soon. Not sure of the release date.

Q. What's your favourite Rajinikanth movie and why? Asked by: Amala

A. Baashha, because something magical happened in that movie where he transcended mere superstardom and attained demi-God status.

Q. What is Rajini sir opinion and view about Hollywood movies? Asked by: Suhail K Y

A. He's acted in one - Bloodstone and his director Dwight Little was blown away by Superstar's popularity.

Q. 'The Definitive Biography'? Could you tell us, why this title? Asked by: RajnifansGoa

A. Definitive means - most reliable or complete, as of a text, author, criticism, study, or the like. I'd like to believe that my book is all of that.

Q. Which is your favourite Rajini movie? Asked by: um

A. Baashha.

Q. Why does RK not contribute to cinema through more realistic and serious roles, something which he has attempted in the past? Is it that the film maker feels RK is more bankable as a hero in escapist cinema? Asked by: Shashi

A. For this I refer you to the Q&A that Rajini did with KB sir last year. When KB sir asked him why he hasn't won a national award yet, the reply was that he prefers to do commercial cinema. Besides, Rajini's offbeat experiment Valli, did not really set the box office on fire.

Q. Does Rajni Sir regret any of the movies which he has done? Asked by: Anjankumar

A. Regret is a strong word, but yes, he has returned money to the distributors of those films that didn't work at the box office.

Q. He comes out as a humble, down to earth person, not bothered about putting a show of his star image. How come he ended up with such health issues? Asked by: lsakuntala

A. As Rajini said last night to his fans at the YMCA, Chennai - all his health issues are due to his smoking. Repeating his message - if you are a smoker quit now.

Q. This is Rajni sir's first Biography ...Do you feel blessed for this opportunity? Asked by: trilok

A. I feel blessed just by seeing my name and his in the same book. It is a huge opportunity and I hope I have managed to do a decent job of chronicling superstar's life and career.

Q. If he have the capability of controlling his fans why don't he enter politics and grab good deeds officially? Asked by: vijay

A. He's always said that just him being good is not enough. The people surrounding him have to be good too.

Q. Any reference in the book about aftermath of Kuselan? Asked by: piyush

A. Kuselan and its aftermath has been covered extensively in the book.

Q. If he has huge fan following what is necessary for society, why dont he convert huge following to help society? Asked by: vijay

A. His fans do help society already in a number of ways and Rajini constantly exhorts his fans to do more - beginning by looking after his or own family unit first and then the greater good.

Q. What are you working on after this book? Asked by: Amala

A. Have offers for a couple of more books and a screenplay. But anything after Thalaivar is a tough act to follow.

Q. What was the biggest surprise to you while writing the book? Asked by: Amala

A. Finding out the extent of how much of his income he gives to charity - 50%, according to his best friend Raja Badhar.

Q. Have you touched upon the Rajini - Kamal relationship in the book? Asked by: Rana

A. I have indeed. Exhaustively and extensively. For those who don't know the back story, it'll be an eye opener.

Q. Rajinikanth jokes--do you think these work to build up the Thalaivar's persona or do they reduce a multifaceted talent to a unidimensional icon of sorts? Asked by: um

A. In my personal opinion I think they enhance his personality and make him accessible to a whole new generation of fans. And hopefully, via the jokes, they'll be tempted to explore much of Thalaivar's deeper and complex work

Q. Congrats Naman..what is the fate of Sultan the Warrior? Asked by: Rajsekar

A. Thanks Raju, I think Sultan is pretty much history now. They have their hands full with Kochadaiyaan now which I have learnt is now postponed to April 14th ie Vishu.

Q. Which is your favourite part of the book? Asked by: Diana

A. Two parts. One - his childhood and two - the story of how he bought his first property in Madras.

Q. Why Thalaivar himself didn't write this book as auto-biography? Asked by: shyam

A. This is how my book begins: 'In an autobiography, I'll have to write the truth, I shouldn't hide anything. Just to avoid hurting people's feelings, I should not be hiding things. If I don't present events as they happened, truthfully, it's not an autobiography at all. I have read Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography and if I can muster up the kind of courage that he had, I will write one.' -Rajinikanth in response to mentor K Balachander's question during an on-stage Q&A session in Chennai, 23 October 2010.

Q. What was the most enjoyable part of writing the book? Asked by: Leena

A. Meeting Thalaivar of course and then meeting all the wonderful people associated with him like Santosh Sivan, Mani Ratnam, SP Muthuraman, K Balachander etc

Q. How did the cover design come about? Asked by: Yudi

A. The idea came from the 'Pothuvaana en manasu thangam' song from Murattukkalai. That's why we went with a gold theme.

Q. I somehow see Rajnikanth more a Spiritual person than a super star..I would like to know how do you see him. Asked by: Vijay

A. I see him as a deeply spiritual person too. He himself does not look upon himself as a superstar. There is an entire chapter devoted to his spirituality in the book which you will enjoy reading.

Q. what's your favourite Rajini dialogue? Asked by: sanju

A. Singam single-aa thaan varum.

Q. Will there be Baasha-2? Asked by: Manoj

A. I hope so!

Q. And his favourite Hindi dialogue? Asked by: sanju

A. Aaj Sunday hai, daaru peene ka din hai - from Chaalbaaz.

Q. Tell me one thing. as an actor and a man with a huge following list of fans, one should come with original looks. Why does Rajni aka Sivaji wear artificial hair, massive makeup, CG effects to make him fair etc.! Asked by: pc

A. I think the answer lies in the Sivaji script itself. There are clear justifications for it. As for the man himself, he's never hesitated to appear in public as he is, without a trace of artifice, unlike many of his contemporaries.

Q. Why has he worked only once with Mani Rathnam? Asked by: Rajsekar

A. When you read the book, you'll see that Mani and Rajini scouted about for a suitable subject for a long time before Thalapathi. Now, Mani is of the opinion that Rajini is too big and only Shankar can make a movie with him. That said, last night in the depths of Kodambakkam, I heard idle chat that maybe there is one final Mani-Rajini hurrah in the offing.

Q. I also feel that it is time Rajni should be left alone to spend quite time ahead in his life. I understand it is difficult for his die hard fans to forget him or his performance as long as Rajni remains in the silver screen. I know he probably would expect the same...do you agree? Asked by: Vijay

A. I completely agree. He should roar out on a high.

Q. Great to know the book is dedicated to your parents... kudos!! Asked by: dola

A. Another lesson learnt from Rajini - parents are greater than God.

Q. Apart from Rajinikanth's story, is there anything else in the book? Asked by: babu

A. Good question. In order to contextualise Rajini's films, life and career, I have provided a history of the Dravidian movement, Tamil cinema and Tamil politics. No man or culture exists in a vacuum and this contextualisation helps understand the Rajini phenomenon better.

Q. Do you think the superstar will ever retire? Asked by: BL

A. As a fan, I hope never. As a fellow human being and given his recent suffering, I think he richly deserves a break.

Q. Are you doing a book launch in Mumbai - there are a lot of Rajini fans in this city! Asked by: BL

A. You are one of many to ask this question. I would love to. Penguin, are you reading this? If yes, please arrange asap.

Q. He also appears to be a very nationalistic person. Any comments. Asked by: aksai

A. Patriotic - yes.

Q. According to me Rajnikant is a much superior actor to the highly over-rated Kamalahasan. There is clearly a level of sincerity and honesty in Rajnikant's work as compared to the other. Your views.. Asked by: Senthil

A. Senthil, as I would love to lead a long life on this planet, I cannot get into this debate in a public forum.

Q. Why you choose this topic? Asked by: jjjvytyftf

A. Simply because there is a dearth of decent written material about Rajinikanth.

Q. What do you think of the many entertainment websites available to movie fans these days? Any favourites? Would you write for any of them? Asked by: BL

A. I'm sure they are all nice, including yours, Ramya.

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