It’s a sunny day in Bengaluru and as usual, we are trying to make it to work on time. We are happier with ourselves today because we left five minutes early. However, the feeling doesn’t last too long as auto after auto refuses to take us to our destination.
Sooo, not only have we lost the advantage of the early start, but we are sweaty and contemplating walking because we are running late. Just then, an auto pulls up and miraculously, agrees to drive us. Flustered and relieved, we sit in the auto, only to find out that we are being driven to work by Rajanikanth!
Intrigued, we ask him about his name, and he smiles saying he is indeed Thalaiva’s namesake.
“My father’s friend was a Rajinikanth fan. He is the one who named me after the superstar,” he says.
“I try to emulate Rajini’s goodness in my life. I try to inculcate the good values he stands for. For example, even if someone asks me to drive to a nearby place, I go. Many other [auto] drivers say no, but I don’t want to cause more problems to these people,” he says.
However, Rajanikath is fairly new to the profession. “I have a diploma in printing technology from Sri Jayachamarajendra Government Polytechnic.”
Rajanikanth, who has worked in the printing press business for 20 years, and his salary when he left had not grown much and wasn’t enough to sustain his family of four.
“My son is in ninth standard and my daughter is in the sixth standard. I want them to go to a good college and receive good education. My salary as an executive in the pre-press department wasn’t enough so I became a rickshaw driver. Today I take home Rs 1,200 every day.”
The hours are long for Rajanikanth who starts work at 7 am in the morning and only returns by 10 in the night. But he has never compromised on his principles. “Other rickshaw drivers ask for more money and refuse fares but I don’t do that. I believe that if you are honest at what you do, god will look after you.”
He says people are often amused by his name and smile when he confirms that yes, Rajanikanth is indeed his name.
While he agrees to being a Rajini fan (because who isn’t?!), he says that it’s V Ravichandran, The Show Man, who he actually admires as an actor.
“Ravichandran is a one man show. He is an actor, director, producer, music director and can do anything. This is why I like him a lot.”
Interestingly, his favourite Rajini film is ‘Baasha’, where the superstar also plays the character of an auto driver.
“I like the movie a lot. It gives out the message the no profession is big or small. If Rajini can be an auto driver, then why can’t I? There is no shame in being an auto driver.