When passengers 'flocked' Rajinikanth the conductor!

Rajinikanth

Did you know that passengers would let buses go empty and wait for the one where Rajinikanth was on duty as the superstar, who was then a bus conductor, amazed people by issuing tickets and returning the change in his trademark style?

Critic Naman Ramachandran's biography on Rajinikanth recounts the actor'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", "Sivaji" and "Enthiran".

Along the way, "Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography" provides rare insights into the his 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.

During his days of struggle, Rajini worked briefly at Mysore Machinery in Bangalore before getting a job of loading sacks of rice into trucks at 10 paise per bag. He then sat for an examination and obtained a bus conductor's licence from the Bangalore Transport Service.

He joined service on March 19, 1970 along with driver Raja Bahadur.

"The driver-conductor pair was thrown together a lot, working the gruelling early morning shift that began at 6 am and ended at 2 pm," the book, published by Penguin, says.

"There was no one faster than him in issuing tickets," remembers Badhar.

"He would give out tickets with a flourish, return change in style. It was all about style. Passengers would look on in amazement. He would always flick back his forelock in those days, that's why he is bald today," says the driver.

"Passengers would let earlier buses go empty and wait for the bus where the entertaining conductor was on duty and crowd in. Shivaji definitely knew how to work a crowd and play to the gallery even then," he recalls. Rajinikanth is, arguably, 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.

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