When passengers 'flocked' Rajinikanth the conductor!


"But I didn't know what to do, as I've never liked to ask anyone for any favours. And what would I say to anyone, as I'm not good-looking. With what background could I ask anybody for a chance? If I would tell them that I'm a conductor, please give me a chance, would they," the book quotes him. Badhar and Rajinikanth's other friends advised him to enroll in the newly formed Madras Film Institute. It was sound advice as Madras was the epicentre of the south Indian film industry then.

At the time, Rajinikanth knew only a smattering of Tamil, having picked up a few words from watching movies and from friends.

"He asked me for my permission to join the institute," says Rajini's elder brother Satyanarayana.

"I told him not to worry about the family. He should come up in life with his acting. And with the blessing of Lord Raghavendra, we decided to send him."

Thus, Rajinikanth, then Shivaji Rao, decided to join the Madras Film Institute, taking casual leave and later unauthorised leave from the BTS, not wanting to lose the security blanket of a government job should he not make it in the world of cinema.

K Balachander did not cast about long for a screen name for Shivaji Rao; he chose a character name from his own film, Major Chandrakanth. A V M Rajan had played a character named Rajinikanth in the film, and Balachander christened Shivaji Rao with this name.

And thus was born Rajinikanth, soon to be a household name. The name literally means 'colour of night'; it was a comment on the colour of Shivaji Rao's skin.

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