‘Standing on an Apple Box’: Family beyond reel life, sans controversy (Book Review)
Book: Standing on an Apple Box; Author: Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth Dhanush; Publisher: HarperCollins; Pages: 171; Price: Rs 399
For every daughter, the father is a super hero, her first love, greatest admirer, biggest supporter. The bond they share is special.
But how does it feel to have one of the real superstars as a father? How different would the lives of superstar children be? Would they miss having normal lives?
The answer lies in the book “Standing on an Apple Box” written with disarming honesty by Rajinikanth’s elder daughter Aishwaryaa, who brings out her bond with her father — who is looked upon no less than a deity in South India.
Being born in a superstar’s house didn’t make much of a difference to Aishwaryaa as she, along with her sister Soundarya, were kept away from all the glamour and glitz of the movie world.
“My father never behaves like a superstar at home. For that matter he doesn’t behave like one anywhere, except in his movies,” she writes. She had a very normal childhood like any other kid and the credit goes to her “Amma”, Latha Rajinikanth, who brought them up “without any visible signs” of Rajinikanth’s stardom.
Shweta Bachchan Nanda, who she thinks shares a similar bond with Amitabh Bachhan as she does with her father, has written the foreword of the book. Shweta met Aishwaryaa for the first time at a football match.
She writes about the book: “Very often we watch our idols on screen and they take on the superhuman qualities of the characters they portray. What ‘Standing on an Apple Box’ does is lift the curtain and give you a peek at the men and women behind the make-up and the family units that helped to make them what they are.”
Apple boxes are an integral part of movie sets. Hence, the title. “Used as a prop, these boxes are used to increase the height of the camera stand, to support heavy equipment, to make short actors look tall, sit on between shots, to serve tea and coffee. Come to any movie shoot and the light man can be heard shouting for it,” she writes.
Like any other kid she used to visit places accompanied by her mother, away from the paparazzi. She remembers how she “played at Marina beach almost every second day and visited the temples at Adyar and Santhome every week”.
The book takes one down memory lane as an introvert Aishwaryaa recollects several fond memories with Rajinikanth.
She recalled her 18th birthday. She was excited to learn about a club which had opened in “orthodox Madras” but had to overcome “a huge hurdle, My Appa”. To her surprise — and worse than an “outright No” — Rajinikanth himself agreed to take her there.
Aishwaryaa also recollects that while she and her family were on a trip to Paris, she lost her bag. It was her father who came to her rescue and offered her his “lungi” to wear.
When it comes to food and eating habits she writes: “Appa would help himself to only one dish, irrespective of the number of dishes placed before him.”
Rajinikanth also supported his daughters when it came to adopting a pet, whom they named “Tiger Rajinikanth”.
The book is also filled with moments she had with special people in her life, her life-support, and pillars of strength — grandparents in Bengaluru and the days with them, her sister, friends and not to forget her love, actor Dhanush, whom she married at a young age.
She mentions a few incidents when Dhanush impressed her with his modern approach, especially when Aishwaryaa wanted to pursue further education.
However, the book is a disappointment if a reader is looking for some gossip or controversial moments from the superstar’s life. She does draw a sketch of two incidents without directly indicating the protagonist. There’s a love story of a married actor and young actress and a producer’s quest to become a successful director.
(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>)