Pune, Apr 1 (PTI) As news of Rajinikanth getting the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award reached Mavadi Katepathar village, about 60 km from Pune, some villagers said they are awaiting the Tamil superstar to keep his promise of visiting his native place.
'Shivajirao Gaikwad (Rajinikanth's name before he became an actor) is a son of the soil who made it big in the movies. He had assured us when he was shooting at Lonavala a few years ago that he will visit his native place and we feel he will keep his word,' a villager said.
Rajini's roots are in the village that is still home to many Gaikwads, he said. Some villagers met Rajinikanth a few years ago when he was in Lonavala for a shoot, he added.
'We tried to catch up with him during the shoot but were sent away by the security guards. Later, we went to his hotel and waited for him near the lift.
'We introduced ourselves in Hindi and he asked us to speak in Marathi. We were surprised to know that he speaks fluent Marathi,' he said.
Sadanand Jagtap, former sarpanch of Mavadi Kathepathar told PTI that the entire village felt proud after hearing the news of Rajinikanth being honoured with the prestigious award.
Jagtap was in the delegation which went to Lonavala to meet the actor. Another villager Hanumant Chachar was also a part of the delegation, Jagtap said.
Akash Chachar, the 29-year-old son of late Hanumant Chachar said that after meeting Rajinikanth, his father and a few other villagers corresponded with the actor's office but there was no response.
'We will once again invite the 70-year-old actor as he has roots in this village,' Akash said.
Vijay Kolte, another resident of the region, said, 'I hope someday Rajinikanth will come to the village and fulfil the wish of the villagers as for them he is still Shivaji Gaikwad, the local lad who made it big.' In and around Pune, Mavadi Kadepathar is known as 'Rajinikanth's village'. A village elder said Rajinikanth's grandfather moved to Basavanna Bagewadi in Karnataka's Vijayapura tehsil and then to Bengaluru, where the actor was born.
The family migrated in search of work almost like many others in the village. Though they had land in the village, the family remained in Karnataka, he said.
In 2013, they invited Rajinikanth to inaugurate a Marathi literary meet in Saswad, but there was no response.
In 2016, then BJP MLA Anil Gote had demanded that the Maharashtra Bhushan, the state's highest award, be given to Rajini. He also claimed the Gaikwad family is from Kolhapur.
Born on December 12, 1950, as Shivajirao Gaikwad in a Marathi family settled in the then Bangalore, the actor was named after Maratha warrior ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Rajinikanth was the fourth child of Jijabai and Ramojirao Gaikwad. His father was a police constable. His mother died while he was eight.
Early in his career, while doing a stage play at the Madras Film Institute, Rajinikanth, whose mother tongue is Marathi, was advised by noted film-maker K Balachander to learn Tamil. He mastered the language soon and thus began his celluloid journey which made him a demigod.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Indian cinema's highest honour, will be presented to Rajinikanth on May 3. PTI SPK VT VT VT