Mohan Ram, actor and management trainer, spoke about superstar Rajinikanth’s ascent from a nobody to a superstar. Ram spoke for more than two hours and held the audience captivated by his speech, which was delivered as part of the ‘Chennai Heritage Talk’ to commemorate the ‘birth’ of Chennai city. It also coincided with the 38th anniversary of the theatrical release of Rajini’s debut film Apoorva Raagangal.
It was on 18th August, 1975 that Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, who had been rechristened as Rajinikanth by director K. Balachander, debuted in films as an actor and not as hero. Ram spoke about the initial struggles, other impediments, achievements, personal life and the huge fan base of Rajini. In the past, the Heritage Talks had featured lectures only about legends such as MGR and Sivaji Ganesan and this year, Rajini was chosen as the ‘topic’ as he had completed 38 long years in the industry and is still on top.
Ram reportedly met Rajini on the eve of his talk and got a 2-minute long interview from Rajini. The ‘talk’ was heard by Rajini’s mentor Balachander, S.P. Muthuraman (who is widely considered as the ‘creator’ of Rajini’s on-screen persona), etc. Ram’s speech was received with applause as he touched upon almost every aspect. The audio-video sequence which intercepted his speech frequently made it more lively.
Rajini reportedly watched his first film at the Krishnaveni Theatre situated opposite the T. Nagar Bus Terminus. Soon after the film was over, Rajini stood outside the hall hoping someone might recognize and appreciate him for his performance. A 10-year old girl came to Rajini and asked if he was the one who ‘starred’ in the film. Thrilled to bits to receive his first recognition, Rajini got a packed of pop-corn for her.
Ram also narrated a sequence from 16 Vayathinile when Sridevi was to spit on villain Rajini’s face. Though a soap mixture was used in place of saliva, Rajini encouraged Sridevi to spit on his face to as to make it look realistic. Rajini had already completed 15 films by the time he starred in the film and still didn’t have any ego hassle in asking Sridevi to do so.
Ram’s speech wherein he detailed superstar’s known and unknown attributes only made the admiration for the ‘man of the masses’ grow in the hearts of all those who had assembled at the ITC Chola Grand Hotel in the city.