I feel awkward doing romantic scenes, says Rajinikanth

A polite query at the God’s gates: “Are you from Mumbai?” “Yes”. The gates swing open quickly, the security guards relax and Man Friday in a crisp white dhoti comes forward.

A tray with hot filter coffee and cool moru (buttermilk) is offered. Latha, who is recovering from a lousy bout of flu, keeps you company.

Minutes later, you climb up a wooden staircase with Nanda the family Dalmatian trying to follow and you’re in Rajinikanth’s Chennai comfortable cane-and-white den with a huge Sai Baba on the wall.

The actor is spiritually inclined in sharp contrast to the testosterone star on celluloid. Rajni even has his Guru Raghavendra Swami on the dial of his watch.

It’s been 15 years since Rajni The Affable turned his back on Hindi cinema, returned home to Chennai and became Rajinikanth The Inaccessible. Read on for what he has to say…

Question: When Robot/Endhiran was released, fans in Matunga even did a palabhishekam (bathing an idol with milk) for your cutout. How does that feel?

Rajinikanth: (Humbly) Come on. It’s their love and affection.

Question: Why have you become the reluctant interviewee?

Rajinikanth: No, it is the same Rajni. Now since I’m not giving interviews, everybody wants an exclusive. If I give one person, the others feel bad. Better to say ‘no’ to everybody. Otherwise, the media is too powerful today.

Question: With over ₹ 130 crore riding on your name, relieved that Robot/Endhiran did so well?

Rajinikanth: Oh yes, very relieved. It was very tense, naturally, first time so much money being invested in a regional language film. It’s not a joke. Hats off to Kalanithi Maran’s guts, he had complete faith, he believed that yes, these people won’t make a mistake, it’s a responsibility. By God’s grace (it worked).

Question: It’s said that you didn’t take a rupee during the making of the film?

Rajinikanth: (Dismissively) I told them, and you give it to me later. Of course, I took it later (laughs). I told them, I don’t need money now. If I need money, I’ll definitely ask for it. Otherwise why take unnecessarily when so much money is already being spent? I know Maran well, he’s a good friend.

Question: You didn’t take a rupee during the making but took a part of the profit?

Rajinikanth: Yes.

Question: Which makes you the highest paid star in India?

Rajinikanth: (Laughs) Is that correct? I don’t know how much the others take. (Laughs again)

Question: You once told me that if you hadn’t become an actor you’d have become a smuggler because you wanted to make money.

Rajinikanth: (Unabashedly) Yes, that is correct, an underworld don. That phase is over, I’ve made enough money!

Question: And Endhiran was released, you went to the Himalayas?

Rajinikanth: I go to the Himalayas after every film. I go alone without anybody.

Question: You have two daughters. Ever miss having a son?

Rajinikanth: No, no. I’m very happy, by God’s grace. We’re in the 21st century, gender doesn’t make a difference. Look at my two grandsons, Yatra and Linga.

Question: You do something other stars wouldn’t. You go out as you are, in a kurta, balding hair as it is without dyeing. And your fans are all right with it?

Rajinikanth: No. It is important to them how you look on celluloid. They’re paying for that. There they feel that my hero should look like a hero. Outside, it doesn’t matter. People are intelligent, they know everything. Why unnecessarily give yourself discomfort?

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