August 27, 2008

Rajini and I Have Struggled for a Meal

By Manigandan K R

Call it a star-studded event in which a simple man inspired a room full of people, an occasion when a real-life rags-to-riches story was narrated in the most interesting manner possible or simply a music launch function that witnessed a speech as refreshing as a breath of cold air on a hot afternoon.

What ever you choose to call it, Sunday evening will be one that will not be forgotten in a hurry by those present at the audio release function of the film Yennai Theriyuma.

The evening belonged to 'Collection King' Mohan Babu, whose daughter is producing the film in which his son Manchu Manoj Kumar is being introduced to the Tamil audience.

Explaining how he began his career, the veteran actor-turned- producer, who is a close friend of superstar Rajinikanth, said, "I have struggled to get to the position I have reached today. I studied at YMCA in Chennai and then joined as a teacher in a school here which fired me after a year because I was not of the same caste as the others there. I had planned to work as a teacher and simultaneously look for small roles. However, this came as a shock."

The producer said that when he got into films and began working as an apprentice, he was paid a paltry sum as salary. "I was paid Rs 50 as salary for a period of six months. Today, when I get to know that assistants are paid in lakhs, I'm surprised," he said.

"It was a struggle during my initial days. I met Rajini in Pondy Bazaar for the first time and we both faced a lot of hardships. There have been occasions when we have both struggled for a meal." The producer added in jest: "I say the punchlines and he (Rajini) sometimes copies it here in Tamil films and walks away with the applause. I have never copied his dialogues!"

But on a serious note, he said, "Rajini is an extraordinary person and a good friend of mine. His wife Latha is more than a sister to me."

Lauding the Tamil people for the hospitality that they extended to him during his intial phase in the film industry, he said, "The best part is that people were willing to trust me and lend me money and articles regardless of the fact that my mother tongue was not Tamil. There are other parts in India where there is language fanaticism. But Tamil Nadu is one place where there isn't any. I love Tamil Nadu," he said.

The movie, which has been directed by Ajay Sastry, has Sneha Ullal and Ria Sen playing the lead along with Manoj Kumar. Music for the movie has been composed by Achu, who had earlier worked as an assistant to A R Rahman.What's more, Simbu has sung a song in the film as has Premji of Chennai 600028 fame. Several Kollywood personalities including Prabhu, Vijayakumar, Simbu, Venkat Prabhu, P Vasu, Sakthi, and Sibi were present on the occasion.

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