Rajinikanth dedicated his Dadasaheb Phalke Award to bus driver friend; know why

Megastar Rajinikanth received India’s highest film honour, the 51st Dadasaheb Phalke award on Monday, in New Delhi. However, the superstar has dedicated his award to a bus driver friend of his who recognized his acting talent in the initial days and encouraged him to audition.

Identified as Raj Bahadur, is a bus transport driver and Rajinikanth’s colleague from the days when he used to be a bus conductor. During his speech after receiving the prestigious award, the actor said that his friend identified the acting talent in him and encouraged him to join the cinemas.

P Raj Bahadur, a 76-year-old retired Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) driver, is one of the few who identified and encouraged Rajinikanth in his initial days of struggle and pushed him to go for auditions. Minutes after the actor was honoured with the prestigious award, the happy Raj Bahadur packed his bags to go to Chennai to meet his friend.

“It was not necessary for him to take my name while he was receiving the prestigious award. It shows his integrity, humbleness, and the fact that he did not forget his journey. He never forgets his friends as they were the ones who encouraged him. Even if he meets his relatives, he makes it a point to meet his friends whenever he comes to Bengaluru,” said Raj Bahadur to the media.

Recalling the old days, Raj Bahadur said that he met Shivaji Rao Gaekwad (Rajinikanth) in 1970. They both were paired as drivers and conductors for a specific government bus.

He further added, “Although he was a conductor like many others, he definitely had a spark. We used to watch him act in dramas organized by the employee’s association where he would always play the main role. He was really exceptional in acting. But he never dreamt of being an actor. Once, I told him that he has all the talent and ability to be an actor in movies. He was not interested in entering movies but I pushed him. Eventually, he was sent to Chennai for training in Madras Film Institute.”

Raj Bahadur then went on to reveal that one of the programs that Rajini acted in, had legendary Tamil director K Balachander as chief guest. The actor then told him that Balachander asked him to learn Tamil but did not say anything else. The driver said in response that if such a big director has said it there is something ahead.

The two then started to talk in Tamil so that Rajini can soon be fluent in the language.

Furthermore, Raj Bahadur added to his statement that the next time Rajini met the director Balachander told him that he had a role but said since he does not know Tamil, it would not be possible to cast him. The star immediately then replied to him in Tamil saying he knew the language and Balachander was stunned by his ability to learn the language in just two months. That is how he got the role in Apoorva Raagangal in 1975. Since then, he never looked back and the rest is history.

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