In your second book, you chose to write about our cinematic God, Rajinikanth. It can't get bigger than this, can it?
No it can't. It was a happy circumstance. I was in Singapore having coffee with a lady who now happens to be my agent. We shared one thing in common, and that was Bangalore. So we both started talking about Bangalore's most famous son – Rajinikanth. He was born and bred in Bangalore and was there till the age of twenty three. I was thinking about writing something on the similar subject. My agent was also of the opinion that there aren't many books that are written on Thalaivar. I sent a proposal letter to her in the next twenty four hours and within the next one week there was a bidding war. Finally Penguin won it and two years down the line here I am launching the book tomorrow in Chennai.
And you've chosen a spectacular date to launch the book too – 12.12.12.
Yes, it was deliberate because this date will never be repeated. Tomorrow is Rajinikanth's birthday and there's this speculation that the world is going to end in a few days. Well, this won't happen now because Rajinikanth will save the day (laughs).
I had the pleasure of meeting him in London during his short visit for his film Kochadaiyaan. I think his extreme simplicity is the most appealing. In an age when people try to conceal their age and lack of hair by wearing wigs and makeup, Rajinikanth makes sure what you see is what you get off-screen. Onscreen, he is playing his persona but he is very clear that you have to separate the actor and the person who you are.
Subconsciously, are you thinking this can be the highest selling biography of any Indian celebrity?
I don't think of numbers and sales. I thought of the book as an honest portrait of a man whose life needed to be chronicled. There's almost nothing out there. After that if people buy the book, I am happy. I wanted to present the facts to the people out there. I think this is my service to this larger than life industry.
How is this book going to be different from the most striking and creatively packed 'Lights Camera Masala'?
This one is a straight forward biography but what is different is that there are number of facts about Rajinikanth that most people don't know about. Without giving anything away, it tells you about some key moments in his life. There is also a lot written about his early films. People think that Rajinikanth is all about style but they don't know that he is a trained and an award winning actor. Especially outside South India, that's what the perception is. Buy the book tomorrow and you'll get to know much more.
What about his Bollywood journey?
He did a lot of films in the 1980's but I have covered the 'HUM' chapter pretty well in the book. I spoke to Anurag Kashyap who spoke about his favorite Rajinikanth movie that's Jeet Hamari. Anurag smuggled a VCR into his hostel in Gwalior and that's how he saw Rajinikanth for the first time. When Deepa Sahi met Rajinikanth during the shooting of Hum she wasn't aware that he was a superstar down South.
And what about the cover of the book? Your previous book had a very distinct cover.
We didn't want to use any random picture of Rajinikanth from the archives and put it up as the cover. What I did was I worked with the in-house designer of Penguin. He asked me, "What's Rajinikanth to people?" One of his most famous songs in Tamil goes – 'My Heart is Gold'. So we took off from that theme and we did a sketch of him in Gold and when you'll see the book, it is embossed in Gold. It stands out from the cover. This is a Limited Edition cover.
Will Rajinikanth be launching the book tomorrow?
No. But I am in Chennai as we speak and will be launching the book at the Landmark City Centre, Chennai. But more importantly, I will be gifting him the copy. After he reads it, we will do a big event if he agrees. I have got my first copy and it feels like a blessing straight from Rajinikanth.