Rajinikanth – The Definitive Biography: An overdose of details

Naman Ramachandran was placed on planet Earth to write this book, a short note by the author says. But did he do it as well as we hoped?

Shivaji Rao Gaekwad aka Rajinikanth stirs curiosity in people all over India…and even outside it. And the question that keeps whirring in their minds regarding this demi God is how and why did he attain such a status? I was a victim of this curiosity too, my need to know fanned by the fact that Rajini began his career a bus conductor. How did he shoot up to such stardom then?

In Rajinikanth’s biography written by Naman Ramachandran, you will find answers to all these questions. Yes, you will. But you should know that the answers you seek will be buried under a heap of details you could’ve done without. Really.

The biography traces Rajini’s life while making short but detailed stops at the lives of most of the folks linked to the legendary actor. The book is laden with capsule biographies. Of course, it makes this glittery-covered book a very well-researched and commendable effort with oh-so-many anecdotes popping out from the pages. But in an attempt to mention the tiniest of happenings, Naman has managed to slow down the narration – a fact that might give the reader a chance to drift away. And adding a fair number of speedbreakers to this slow-paced biography are the plots of all the movies Rajini has acted in, in whatever role.

Of course, there are interesting gems – like the way Rajini kept commuters in the bus entertained with his stylish ways – that you stumble upon along the way, as you read. But there aren’t enough of those vignettes. There’s also a compilation of black and white and colour snapshots from the actor’s life which hold your rapt attention for a while. But even that is just a small part of this humongous biography. And it leaves you, the reader yearning for a bigger and more candid slice of Rajini’s life. Perhaps interviews of the star, something!

Naman has kept the language simple and straight, making it easy to read. But sometimes the soul goes missing and the narration runs for several pages without a speck of emotion. Another reason to drift away, I suppose.

While most of the facts documented in this biography are credible, the Hindi-to-English translations of the names of the movies were a tad disappointing. For example, Pyaar Kiye Jaa has been translated as Let’s Make Love, when it actually means Keep Making Love. Nit-picking, one might say. But a fact that made me consider other translations with suspicion. Was it the haste to compile the many aspects of Thalaivar’s life in a given time frame that made the author overlook the minutiae? The possibility can’t be ruled out.

In the end, Rajinikanth – A Definitive Biography could be termed as a ‘all you want to know about and around Rajinikanth’ kind of book. Pick it up if you’re desperately in need of the hard facts.

Rating: 2 out of 52 Star Rating

Reviewed by Latika Payak

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