Date of Birth: 12 Dec 1950
Place of Birth: Bangalore
Rajinikanth is one of the most influential and bankable movie stars in Indian cinema. Rajinikanth's mass popularity and appeal is largely drawn from his mannerisms and stylized delivery of dialogue. He received India's third highest honour, the Padma Bhushan, for his contribution to Indian cinema. Other than acting, Rajinikanth worked as a screenwriter, film producer and also a playback singer.
Rajinikanth was born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad in a Maratha family in Karnataka, India. His ancestors are from the village of NachiKuppam in Krishnagiri district, Tamil Nadu. He was the fourth child of his parents, Jijabai and Ramojirao Gaekwad, a police constable. He lost his mother at the age of eight. He did his schooling at the Acharya Paathshala in Basavanagudi, Bangalore and then at the Vivekananda Balaka Sangha. Rajinikanth struggled a lot during his early age because of his family's low income. Although his mother-tongue is Marathi, he has not acted in any Marathi films yet.
He worked with various jobs in Bangalore. He also attended a theatre for stage plays. Before starting his career in the film industry, he used to practice stunts at the Rama Hanuman Temple at a hill near his house. He then primarily worked as a bus conductor for the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation in Bangalore. It was during the time that he nurtured his acting interests by performing in various stage plays.
He married Latha Parthasarathy, sister of actor Y. G. Mahendran's wife, on February 26, 1981, at the age of 31 in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh and they have two daughters named Aishwarya Rajinikanth and Soundarya Rajinikanth. Latha currently runs a school named The Ashram. His elder daughter Aishwarya Rajinikanth married actor Dhanush on November 18. His second daughter, Soundarya Rajinikanth, works in the film industry as a director, producer and graphic designer.
He joined the Madras Film institute in 1973 with the help of his friend Raj Bahadur, a fellow bus driver and completed a basic course in acting. In the film institute he was helped by his Vice Principal A. Prabhakaran.
Rajinikanth has acted in a total 190 movies, which includes Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, English and Bengali films. Rajinikanth made a foray into Bollywood with Andha Kanoon but did not make as much of an impact as he had in the south. He still appeared a few films in Hindi, such as Chaalbaaz with Sridevi, Uttar Dakshan, Geraftaar and Hum. He made his Hollywood debut with the movie Bloodstone in 1988 with much fanfare in India at the time of its release. However, the movie failed in the United States. He also made brief stints in German- and Japanese film industries. His film Muthu was dubbed into Japanese and later turned out to become a major hit in the country, ultimately creating a huge Japanese fan-following for Rajni. In 2005, his film Chandramukhi was dubbed in German and released in all German-speaking nations.
Rajinikanth's first film was in Tamil cinema, where he was initially cast in supporting roles, debuting as a cancer patient in Apoorva Raagangal in 1975. The film was directed by K. Balachander, who is constantly referred to by Rajinikanth as his own guru or mentor. The following year, Rajinikanth acted in his first Kannada film, Katha Sangama, directed by Puttanna Kanagal. Though Rajinikanth refers to director K. Balachander as his "guru" or mentor, it was director S. P. Muthuraman who actually revamped Rajinikanth’s image entirely. Muthuraman first experimented with him in a positive role in Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri (1977), as a villain in the first half and a do-gooder in the second, accepting a woman with a child abandoned by her lover. Around this time Mullum Malarum (1978), directed by J. Mahendran, established Rajinikanth in the Tamil film arena.
The success of Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri prompted Muthuraman to make a mushy melodrama with Rajinikanth as a hero sacrificing everything for his siblings in Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai (1979). These films were the turning points in Rajinikanth’s career — he changed from an actor who merely enthralled the audiences, to one who could also make them cry. The acceptance of Rajinikanth sans his mannerisms proved he had at last become a "star" from a "common actor." His film roles were mainly as a villain during the period 1975 to 1977, frequently with Kamal Haasan as the hero, in movies like 16 Vayadhinilae, Moondru Mudichu and Avargal.
Rajinikanth (left) with Brett Stimely in the film Bloodstone (1988).
During this phase of his career when he was reaching dazzling heights, Rajinikanth abruptly chose to quit acting,but was coaxed back. He started again with Billa, which was then remaked as a blockbuster bollywood movie Don. With its phenomenal success he was accepted as a full-fledged hero. Billa was followed by a row of hits like Murattukaalai, Pokkiri Raja, Thanikattu Raja, Naan Mahaan Alla, Pudukavithai and Moondru Mugam. K. Balachander’s first home production, Netrikan proved to be yet another milestone in Rajini’s career. .
He even acted as himself alongside Meena, who was a child actor then, in the movie Anbulla Rajinikanth (1984). More box-office hits dominated the 80's with Padikkathavan, Thee, Velaikaran, Dharmathin Thalaivan, Mr. Bharath, and Maaveeran. In his 100th movie, Sri Raghavendra, he played the Hindu saint Raghavendra Swami.
The vast majority of his movies released during the nineties were extremely successful, notably Thalapathy, Mannan, Annamalai, Uzhaippali, Veera, Baasha, Muthu,, Arunachalam and Padayappa. Rajinikanth wrote his first screenplay and acted in the film Valli (1993)which failed at box office. His cult classic Baasha, released in 1995, went on to become a massive blockbuster and is routinely touted by his fans and critics alike as the movie which elevated him from being just another very popular actor with loads of charisma to an almost demigod status in the eyes of the masses. His film Muthu was the first Tamil film to be dubbed into Japanese as Muthu: The Dancing Maharajah and became very popular in Japan.
Rajinikanth's 150th film, Padayappa, directed by K. S. Ravikumar, undoubtedly turned out to be the largest blockbuster in his career. Finally, after more than a three year sabbatical from cinema, at 52 years of age, he starred in his home production, Baba, which released on August 15, 2002 amidst much fanfare and extreme hype. The film failed miserably to meet the expectations due to a very weak screenplay, which Rajinikanth himself had written, his second stint at screenplay writing after Valli.
Although the film grossed enough to cover its budget, it was viewed as a tremendous loss when compared to his previous box office successes throughout his career. It fell short of market expectations and the high bids reportedly translated to heavy losses for the distributors. Rajinikanth himself repaid the losses incurred by the distributors. Rajinikanth reported that he was going to retire from acting, hence he later took part in other political activities.
After the Baba debacle, Rajinikanth mulled over numerous scripts with many directors, including K.S. Ravikumar, and finally chose to act in director P. Vasu's Tamil remake of Manichithrathazhu, Chandramukhi. In essence, many viewed Chandramukhi as Rajinikanth's comeback film, his make or break movie and in the end, when it was released on April 14, 2005, it went on to create new box office records and smashed his own previous records and once and for all removed any doubt within the industry with regards to Rajinikanth's box office clout and incomparable appeal to the masses.
Just after Chandramukhi rele