There's nobody like T Rajendar in Kollywood or the world for that matter. Truly, anyone who has followed his career graph and colourful interviews will know that this is not an exaggeration of the description of the observation.
Speaking to Behindwoods ahead of his upcoming release Kavan in which he's acted with Vijay Sethupathi, TR, as he's popularly known, spoke about a wide range of issues - from his relationship with Rajinikanth to politics and how he once threw Manisha Koirala out of his film.
TR claims that he's facing a lot of pressure to involve himself in the RK Nagar constituency bye-polls.
"My full attention is on Kavan but I'm facing so much pressure to get into the election battleground in RK Nagar," he said.
‘Found a place in Rajini’s heart’
TR also spoke about his relationship with superstar Rajinikanth, noting that the latter had appreciated him many a time.
"I was Rajinikanth's fan when I was a college student. I have found a place in my senior's heart," he said, adding, "I'm Rajini's fan, and Rajini is someone who has appreciated me." ("Rajiniku naan rasigan, andha Rajini yennai rasichavar")
Asked about the Rajinikanth's encouraging words on Simbu's upcoming film AAA (Anbanavan, Asaradhavan, Adangadhavan), TR revealed that Simbu was dear to Rajini even as a child and that he'd appreciated him many times earlier too.
"My son Silambarasan is like me. He doesn't go around saying this person praised me, that person praised me. He doesn't know how to say it," TR said.
However, this time, Rajini had supposedly asked Simbu to tell people that he'd praised the film and that's why Simbu did so.
Concluding his comments on Rajini, TR said, "I'm a very transparent man. Rajendran cannot become Rajini, Rajini cannot become Rajendran."
Speaking of his experience working with Vijay Sethupathi (who'd likened TR to a child) in Kavan, TR said that the entire team was respectful of him and that VS would apologise to him if he came late to the sets.
Taking on trolls
TR's flowery speech at the audio launch of Vijay's Puli in which he'd called the actor a long list of titles ending with 'puli' had generated innumerable memes deriding him.
TR, however, is characteristically unfazed.
"Only trees that have fruits will be stoned," he said. He then went on to compare himself to a gold jewellery store which shouldn't get insecure because a few "covering" jewellery (artificial jewellery) stores had come up. "A diamond shouldn't be threatened by glass," he said.
Pointing out that he was trending at No.3 (he didn't mention where) all over India because of the Puli speech, TR invited those who made fun of him to step on to a stage and speak instead of "typing" memes on the computer.
"You can sit on the toilet and sing, can you sing in public with a mic?" he asked. "I will talk before Vijay, I will talk in Vijay TV, I will be talked about in Vijay Sethupathi's Kavan."
TR said that he was like the sun (in several languages) and that those criticising him had no impact on him.
"I've been fighting for 35 years and I'm treated like this. Be careful or people will switch you off," he warned. (The translation really does no justice to his rhyming usage of "aapu" and "offu")
TR on politics
Speaking of politics, TR claimed that MGR, Jayalalithaa, and Karunanidhi had all praised him.
Imitating MGR's words of appreciation for a speech TR had once supposedly given, TR said that the leader had admired his "courage" for calling him by name.
According to TR, Jayalalithaa had hailed him as a PhD in Politics and a "maveeran" (braveheart) and Karunanidhi had said TR was "half" of him (meaning, he was a part of Karunanidhi).
TR also claimed that he was the first person from the cine field who'd spoken up for Jayalalithaa when her saree was pulled at the Assembly. He noted that he'd had differences of opinion with MGR and Jayalalithaa when they were alive and that he never fell at their feet during their tenure but that he could lavish praise on them because they were now gone.
Talking about the jallikattu protests, TR said that the news about the protesting students asking him not to participate with political flags was misconstrued.
"It was MGR's Remembrance Day and so I went to his samadhi with my party flags to pay respect," he said. According to TR, the mob happened to be on the way and when they told him that he couldn't enter with flags, he was happy to oblige.
"It is my thought (ennam) that matters, not the colours of my flag (kodi vannam) or symbol (chinnam)," he said, pointing out that DMK's Stalin was not allowed to participate.
Calling himself a man of principles who'd rejected positions of power because they didn't go with his ideology, he accused the average politician of being power hungry. "If you are offered the CM candidate post of the BJP, how many will reject it because it doesn't go with the tradition of Dravidian ideology in which you're soaked?" he questioned, taking a sly dig at Gangai Amaran, who has been fielded by the BJP in RK Nagar.
Coming back to cinema, TR said that a big director had offered him a film in which he was to act as someone's father but that he'd rejected it: "Veetla Simbuku naan daddy, vellila naan thaadi," he said, implying that he wasn't ready to play father roles just as yet.
He also declared Manisha Koirala had once been cast in his film but that he'd thrown her out of it because she'd tried to tell him, the director, who the hero should be. "I made the film with a new face. I created Mumtaaz," TR said.