His credentials as a star need no proof, but there are lesser-known facets of Ajith, who celebrates his birthday on May 1.
I first met Ajith sir in 2007, when I was roped in as a photographer for Billa. We’d gone for a test shoot at his house — the minute I entered, I was zapped, as the entire showcase was filled with cameras and lenses.
I had known Ajith only as an actor, and was surprised to see his interest and knowledge in photography. This passion has only grown in this last decade.
He keeps updating himself on the latest models; I’ve learnt a lot from him about the latest photography techniques and lens across the world.
As a photographer, he’s very clear about what he wants — he’s the type who checks the lighting thoroughly and needs to click only a couple of times for the final photo. He’s also particular about the technical aspects. On the sets, he turns photographer many times — and shoots everyone, right from the light man to the leading lady, and insists we give them a copy as soon as possible. He dreams of building a big studio in Chennai someday.
It’s always special when Ajith sir cooks. He chooses a day when he doesn’t have a scene, and you can see how carefully he goes about the preparation for his spicy and tangy biryani. I was told that he bought the mutton himself. Even when we have a shot, one can see him constantly stirring these massive andas, checking the taste every 20 minutes or so.
I remember this one day when Vijay sir was shooting for Velayudham nearby. Ajith sir came to know about this and he asked for a bigger anda and he started cooking for Velayudham’s crew as well. Vijay sir came to his caravan and had lunch there. It was a really special lunch for us fans.
As he started getting ready for Billa 2, he started grilling his own chicken and vegetables in a portable grill, and he would always send over some of the food for all of us. Even during Vedhalam, I remember waiting for him, and his assistant brought me some fried fish he had made. He’s a very affectionate person and he enjoys serving the food he’s cooked.
I met him first during the Formula BMW Asia Championship, when he was racing for a team called Mango Racing. He was a big star even then, but he was humble when it came to racing. More than a star, he was a fan there. So when I met him at Snetterton, he was very excited to be racing where Ayrton Senna had once raced. He was a huge fan of Senna, and he showed me his helmet, painted yellow as a tribute to him.
Later, I also got the opportunity to do a biking trip with him. I remember going to his house, and I noticed that his garage wasn’t lined with fancy cars. But it was obvious that these cars were well taken care of. That’s something I learnt from him.
He has always been passionate about riding, but he was just as serious about riding safe. Just because you have a fast bike, there’s no need to ride it like a maniac; that was his rule. I remember chatting with him on our walkie talkies during the ride and he said he was glad to have all this freedom. That’s when I realised what it must be like for him to be free from the public eye, in the anonymity a helmet gives you.
People ask me if Ajith really is the nice guy they say he is. To them, I say that whatever you hear about him is absolutely true.
Ajith has been interested in aeromodelling right from his school days. He’s someone who enjoys building the planes just as much as flying them.
Aeromodelling is like swimming — you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Ajith is a very busy person, but whenever he gets time, he indulges in flying his collection of model aircraft. This hobby takes a lot of time and effort before you actually come to the flying part. And, if you build it, you want to fly it too!
When we started out, planes were available in India, but not helicopters. Once Ajith started doing it, it got very popular. Ajith does his own aircraft design and is very thorough about it. As he’s an actor, his exposure is much more than other people, and he’s a very informed person. We have a private airstrip a 100 kilometres from the city, where we fly aeromodels with all the necessary safety guidelines.
Published in The Hindu dated April 30 , 2017