A stylish lesson in humility from namma Rajni

There will be many tales told about Rajnikanth in the next few days as Endhrian aka The Robot checks in to a screen near you. Many of them (told by the man himself) will be true, of course, but they will mostly have been manufactured by the buzz machine that modern movies live (and die) by.

Nice to hear, easy to forget.

But the truest stories about Rajnikanth are truly about his humility and humanity despite achieving such stratospheric heights of stardom. About not forgetting his past. About where he comes from. About not losing touch with old friends. About being able to do things he did when he wasn’t earning in crores.

Selvan Shiv Kumar, the Bangalore photographer who passed away recently, detailed one such story about Raj Bahadur (left), who drove the BTS bus on which Rajni was conductor, in his last blog post.

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By SELVAN SHIV KUMAR

Raj Bahadur lives a one-room pad in Chamarajpet where the superstar visits him in disguise to meet him and stays with him during his Bangalore sojourns.

Rajnikanth, says Bahadur, is still the same old friend he was during their tenure as driver and conductor in the BTS (Bangalore Transport Service) now BMTC; if anything, their friendship has only deepened even as Rajni kept growing from actor to superstar.

Bahadur says Rajni’s simplicity is evident: ‘When he comes to see me, we drink the same old rum with egg-laced delicacies from my sister who lives one floor below mine. When it is bed time, he sleeps on the floor without any complaints.”

Bahadur says Rajni comes unnoticed to his home in various disguises—from beggar to plumber—and leaves after staying with him for a day or two depending on his mood, often sharing his experiences from the netherworld he inhabits.

Once, Rajni was on a shoot in Rajasthan. The role demanded that he dress up as a beggar. In between shots, Rajni decided to visit a mountain-top temple close by since he is a strong believer. On his way to the temple, a lady dropped a Rs 10 note into his palms thinking he was a beggar.

After paying obeisance inside the temple, Rajni was on his way out and getting back into his SUV when the lady who had given him ten 10 rupees noticed him again. She ran towards him and apologised and asked for her note back with his autograph.

Rajni refused: “I am sorry. This note is mine now and I am going to keep it for life.”

This, Bahadur says, Rajni still cherishes as one of his best moments in life as an actor and still carries the Rs 10 in his purse as a remainder that all humans are equal.

For a man who started his job as a bus conductor with a monthly salary of Rs 30 more than 25 years ago, to the star who now gets paid Rs 30 crore per film and yet remain unmoved by all the money is a great feeling. And more so since he is a great friend till death parts us, adds Bahadur with tears in his eyes, which he was unable to stop.

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