Saturday, 18 February 2017

Standing on an Apple Box: The Story of a Girl among the Stars

Details of the Book
No. of Pages   : 184 pages
ISBN               : 9352641752 (ISBN13: 97893526417)
Language        : English

From the book blurb
Director, dancer, goodwill advocate for the United Nations: Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth Dhanush is so much more than the daughter of a legendary actor, or the wife of southern cinema's biggest star. Growing up in Bangalore and then Madras, in a household that resolutely kept out any hint of her father's superstardom, she was a quiet, introverted child whose greatest pleasure was a visit to Marina Beach and an occasional meal out. It was not cinema but law that became a preoccupation when she started thinking about college and career - but fate, and her mother, had other plans for her. Aishwaryaa writes with disarming honesty about life as Rajinikanth's daughter, of falling in love and raising two boys with Dhanush, of fighting her own demons and finding satisfaction in a career of her choice. She reflects on the many roles a woman has to juggle at home and outside - in her case, under the watchful gaze of cameras and celebrity-watchers. Intensely personal, but also inspirational, Aishwaryaa's memoir is an unusually frank insight into growing up in cinema-land. A playful meditation on the joys and difficulties of being a woman in this age, Standing on an Apple Box is as much a celebration of individual fulfilment as it is of family.

Aishwaryaa R. Dhanush is a film director and a start-up entrepreneur. She is the daughter of the legendary actor Rajinikanth and is married to Dhanush, also one of India’s best-known actors. She is the mother of two boys. She lives in Chennai, India. Aishwaryaa is a trained Bharatnatyam dancer (recognized by the state government for the same in 2009), a voracious reader and a passionate writer. In August 2016, she was appointed as UN Women’s Advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment in India. Standing on an Apple Box is her first book.

What I think
As the title, “standing on an apple box”, the book is all about the onlooker’s perspective of cinema industry as well as lives of stars star kids and their family. The interesting aspect is that the onlooker is an insider too. Of course, not any random insider, but Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth Dhanush.

When I came to know about the book (which was through the Bangalore Lit Fest), I was more driven to the author’s name than anything else. I didn’t care what the book was all about. In fact, more than the author, her surnames grabbed my attention. Rajinikanth – the reigning superstar and Dhanush - the uncrowned prince. In fact both these stars have something in common – their humble beginning and the raise to superstardom through dedication and hard work. After all, being a movie buff myself, I know that their journeys has never been easy. But, I wanted to know what it would be like for Aishwaryaa who is born to the superstar and hence could easily be tagged as the “born star”.

Interestingly, the book is about just that – what it means to be a star kid and wife. The difficulties faced to shed the imposed stardom, shedding the shadows of a famous father and husband thereby bringing individual identity into the limelight.

The book is not chronologically ordered. It shuttles between Aishwaryaa – the daughter, wife, mother, director and social worker. However, it always retains Aishwaryaa – the person! She describes how her grandparents instilled moral values and ethics into her system. She extensively narrates how protective her mother is and what a submissive daughter she had been; rather helplessly submissive she had been. She also adds some instances involving her father which only reinstates what an epitome of simplicity he is! The author, wherever possible, has elaborated how ridiculous star kids’ life could be due to constant media attention and of course, owing to the simple reason that movie stars are celebrated like Gods!

The USP of the book is the simplicity and honesty. The author has not touched any controversial limits; neither has she revealed anything new about herself or her family. Yet, the narrative sounds so personal that we almost get a glimpse of her life with her family. Although she has included a few instances from her father’s life, it is limited.  I wish there were more. Also, the contradicting lifestyle in which the author and her husband were brought up is highlighted. But, I wish we could know more about how they fell in love!

In short, as readers or as fans, we would know nothing new. Yet, we feel connected to the author’s world for those 2-3 hours we spend with the book. As the name rightly suggest, we become the onlooker standing on an apple box. But, we get to see only the camera. And the camera has only the motions captured by the director.



  1. Most of the time celebrities say that they were submissive to their parents..should we take it as a reference point to success?