The Elephants in My Backyard – by Rajiv Surendra


Rajiv Surendra, most widely known for his Mean Girls performance as Mathlete, Kevin G, has come out with a book: The Elephants in My Backyard.

Often times, an actor’s personality can seep out in the role that he plays. The gutsy nature of Kevin G is a quality that Rajiv certainly has.

To refresh your memory on Kevin G, his most iconic Mean Girls scene is when he takes the talent show stage as a  mathlete rapper and spews these lyrical pearls:

Yo, Yo, Yo!
Aaaaaall, youuuuu
Suckah emcee’s ain’t got nothin’ on me!
On my grades, on my lines. You can’t touch Kevin G!
I’m a Mathlete, so nerd is inferred.
But forget what you heard,
I’m like James Bond the Third.
Sh-Sh-Shaken, not stirred. I’m Kevin Gnapoor.
The G is silent when I sneak in your door,
And make love to your woman on the bathroom floor.
I don’t play it like Shaggy. You’ll know it was me.
Cuz the next time you see her she be like “Ohhh! Kevin G!!!”
(Above: Rajiv as Mathlete, Kevin G from Mean Girls on left. Right, is Rajiv today)
Kevin G goes after the talent show without a glimmer of doubt.
And that’s just how Rajiv goes after pursuing the lead role when he learns that Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, is being made into a film.
Rajiv travels to India to research the role, lands a meeting with casting director, Avy Kaufman, and even gets in touch with the author of the book.
Despite the efforts of that saga, he doesn’t get the part.
Ultimately, the failure helps Rajiv to grow stronger. It is infectious how passionately he pursued the opportunity, and it made me crave the experience of wanting something so acutely — even if the end result wasn’t achieved.
Having experienced the failure, Rajiv found that he was able to acknowledge his authentic self, with less doubt. He lived in Munich, had awakenings (spiritual, sexual, and cultural), and then returned to his hometown of Toronto as a more complete person.
The book ends with the adage that “from compost grows a garden.”
This book is a testament to going after your dreams, because even they are not realized, that is not the point.
There is so much to be gained from the experience of simply chasing after them.

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