Where did Rajinikanth go to school? No, this isn’t another one of those million trademark jokes. This Teachers’ Day, Bangalore found out that the ‘thalaiva’ had, in a token of gratitude to his middle-school teacher, sent her Rs. 3 lakh.
Even though it’s been at least five decades after he attended the Government Model Primary School in Gavipuram, the gift came as a “pleasant surprise”, says 78-year-old B.N. Shanthamma. Ever since she received the gift, she has transformed overnight into a neighbourhood celebrity.
She said her phone hasn’t stopped ringing for the past three days. Journalists and television channels have been queuing up for interviews, even as his fans kept pestering her with questions on everything from his likes and dislikes to his appearance as a young child. A retired schoolteacher who taught him English, science and Kannada for three years, Ms. Shanthamma remembers him as a “perfect student”.
In fact, he was so “perfect” that she always imagined him to grow up and become a science teacher. Fondly, she adds he was ‘jaane’ (an endearment for someone who’s smart). “He was a good boy. He would come to school even when he was sick,” she said.
But ask her what is the one thing that distinguished him from other children, she exclaims: “He had a very good handwriting.” On a candid note, Ms. Shanthamma concedes that she is not a movie goer. “I hate movies and I do not understand Tamil. But I vaguely remember seeing one Kannada movie he acted in.”
The teacher has received two awards from the Karnataka government: the Best Teacher’s Award for her academic contributions and the Census Award for being a good supervisor. But this gift, she says, is a “crown” and reward for being a teacher.
Ms. Shanthamma is moved beyond words by his gesture and only shows how “large hearted” he is.
‘Will visit soon’
A few months ago, Rajni Murugan, a Rajinikanth’s fan, got in touch with Ms. Shanthamma after he learnt that his teacher was in need of some help. He later sent her photo along with a letter to Rajinikanth’s close aide after which she received a call from the star. Mr. Murugan says, “Shanthamma wanted to meet Rajini Sir. But he said that he would come and meet her soon.”
After a month, Mr. Murugan learnt that the teacher was under financial stress and had moved from her house in Hanumanthanagar to Jalahalli. He wrote a letter stating her financial condition. Weeks later, he got a call from someone representing the actor asking for the teacher’s bank account details. On Teacher’s Day, the money was transferred to her account.