2 December, 2015
Seema Sonik Alimchand, author of The Warrior Within, a biography of south superstar Rajinikanth, takes us through the journey of her writing and more
She is a writer, presenter and an author. Born to a well-Known music composer of the Indian film industry, Seema was naturally drawn to the world of cinema. Her book The Warrior Within is a biographical story of a superstar. It is the story of a star torn between the material and the spiritual. As the book releases tomorrow, we talk to the woman behind the pages. Excerpts…
Your book is finally complete and ready to release. How does it feel?
It feels fantastic. After two and a half years of hard work, it is like delivery of a baby.
Sometimes when you are just randomly thinking and there is lot of thoughts coming in and then something just connects with you. Similar thing happened with me. After I launched my album, 100 Years of Hindi Film Music, I was sitting and browsing the internet and thinking what can I do next. That is when I saw Rajinikanth’s picture. He was in a dark cave, surrounded by graveyard, sitting and meditating. I got very intrigued and I did some research. I found out that there is much to Rajinikanth than people know. So I decided to write about him.
Tell us something about The Warrior Within.
The book is based on the life of Rajinikanth, although there is a bit of storytelling in that. The book runs in two parallels, one is his life story which includes, his struggles, his film career and his friends and family life and the second is his spiritual journey which very few know about. I went to Rishikesh and visited the Ashrams that he has been to, met his guru. I also went to Bengaluru and met his older brother Satyanarayana Rao Gaikwad. I was at their home. He and his wife were very kind to me. He also has given me a handwritten note for the book. The book talks about the war within the superstar of whether he should give up on the material world and follow the spiritual path or stay, it’s the dichotomy between the two paths. He goes to the Himalayas to search for Mahavatar Babaji. That is the story. It is like a flashback.
You have interviewed many people for the book. Tell us about it…
I have interviewed Bijon Dasgupta who has worked with him in Chaalbaaz. He lived in the same area with Rajinikanth as a child in Hanumanth nagar. He told me about their childhood days. I also interviewed Mr Pankaj Parashar who has worked extensively with the superstar. He told me about certain incidents that happened during the shoots of Chaalbaaz with Sridevi. I spoke to Hema Malini ji who is very friendly to Rajinikanth and his wife. She spoke about how she saw the superstar meditating in his room when she had gone to his house. There is also a whole chapter dedicated to his bus conductor days in Bengaluru. He used to entertain people on the bus, make fun and all of that. The book has everything. There are certain fictional elements too like I know that Rajinikanth loves Kabaddi so I have put in this kabaddi match in his childhood chapter by getting some information from his brother.
What was Rajinikanth’s reaction when you offered to write his biography?
I haven’t met him personally yet on this matter but his brother has told him. He was unwell and there were lot of people around him so it was quite difficult to get in touch with him. But his brother said he will speak to me on behalf of him. His brother and nephew helped me a lot. As soon as he will be back he will be going through the book and hopefully he likes it. He has to give a positive response because the book is really good and I have not sensationalised anything. It is as it is. It is his birthday on December 12 so it is a privilege for me to have got the opportunity to write about such a big superstar.
Why is the book not being launched on his birthday and why tomorrow?
Actually it is the publisher’s choice and there are quite a few celebrities involved in the launch so this is the date they found convenient. Besides that, Rajinikanth considers Thursdays as his lucky days. It is his very favourite day of the week. Every good major things that happened in his life is Thursday, he shot for his first film with K. Balachander on Thursday and so on and so forth.
Is there any instance from his life that has touched you emotionally?
The part that touched me the most was when he lost his mother at a tender age and he hardly realised because he was very small. Later on, it comes across in the books how much he misses his mother. He considers the stage his mother because he can be what he wants on the screen. This is very touching and also when he meets Mahavtar Babaji in the caves of Himalayas. That is also a very emotional part.