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Jailer star Rajinikanth remembers NTR: When I tried to imitate him, my friend said I looked like a monkey

The superstar was a special guest at NTR’s centenary celebrations held in Vijayawada

Jailer star Rajinikanth remembers NTR: When I tried to imitate him, my friend said I looked like a monkey
Rajinikanth on NTR

Last Updated: 09.51 PM, Apr 28, 2023


Rajinikanth was the special guest among the long list of invitees at grand event in Vijayawada today kickstarting the celebrations of NTR’s 100th anniversary that falls this May. From considering himself as a loyal fan of NTR in the 50s and 60s, he went onto share screenspace with the legendary actor in the 1976 release Tiger. He remembered the influence NTR had on his life and career at the event.


“Pathala Bhairavi was the first film I watched in childhood. When I watched it on the big screen, I was thrilled. The Bhairavi character had a great impact on me. In my first scene in Apoorva Raagangal, my first dialogue was Bhairavi Veedu Idhaana. After doing several films, when I was booked as a hero and I was reluctant to take up the offer, they told the title of the film was Bhairavi and I remembered NTR again,” he said.

He remembered watching Lava Kusa in Bangalore and also the first time he caught a glimpse of the star for a promotional event. “There were a lot of people and NTR, Anjali Devi, Relangi attended the event. When someone lifted me to catch a glimpse of the actors, I saw NTR wearing a silk shirt, cooling glass. It’s my first memory of NTR..”

The Jailer actor was so mesmerised by NTR’s portrayal of Duryodhana in Sri Krishna Pandaveeyam that he learnt Telugu with friends by watching the film repeatedly. “When I was a bus conductor and we performed a play called Kurukshtram for our cultural event, I only imitated NTR. Audiences clapped, my friends encouraged me to act and said I would be a great villain after Rajanala, Mukkamala..That’s the reason I came to film institute in Madras to act.”

Recollecting working with his idol NTR in Tiger in the 1970s, Rajini shared, “We play brothers in the film. I was nervous and tired on sets because of working in many films; I had a few bad habits and I was a very angry man. Producers were taking back advances and even asked to remove me from Tiger. It was NTR who asked them to take good care of me and didn’t want to jeopardise my future.”

In an action scene where he and NTR had to run simultaneously, Rajini struggled to match up to the pace of the veteran. “And I thought I was speedy.” He spoke fondly of NTR’s value system, how he came to sets at 6.45 am with makeup and lived with principles, value, discipline on and off-screen. The Annatthe star stated he lost count of the number of times he’d watched Daana Veera Soora Karna.

“I lost count of the number of times I watched the film. I also wanted to do something similar, play Duryodhana on screen and we did a test shoot with the costumes, jewellery with the blessings of NTR’s makeup man Pithambaram. My producer friend Vittal Prasad said I looked like a monkey and asked me to drop the project immediately.”

Rajini, who was also shooting simultaneously for another film in the same studio as NTR’s Bobbili Puli, was witness to the latter’s genius on sets. “He delivered two pages of dialogues in one take without any rehearsal” The star mentioned he jumped out of excitement when NTR won the elections in 1983. “He rose to power in 9 months when Congress was ruling the roost. No one can do it. NTR struggled so much during the campaign for people.”

In their meeting in the early 90s, Rajini reminisced how NTR credited media baron Ramoji Rao for his political victory in 1983. He claimed he was fortunate to spend time with legends like NTR, Sivaji Ganesan, Rajkumar in their final years. “I was privileged to spend time with them. They don’t fall for flattery. They’re just focused on their ambitions and forget the noise around them,” he concluded.

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