Monday, December 13, 2010

Rajinikanth : super star i am legend

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Rajinikanth in 2010
Born Shivaji Rao Gaikwad
December 12, 1949 (1949-12-12) (age 61)
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Residence Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Occupation Film actor, producer, screenwriter
Years active 1975–present
Spouse Latha Rangachari
Children Aishwarya Rajinikanth
Soundarya Rajinikanth
Rajinikanth (Tamil: ரஜினிகாந்த்; born Shivaji Rao Gaikwad on December 12, 1949)[1] is an Indian film actor, media personality, and cultural icon. He made his debut as an actor in Apoorva Raagangal (1975), a Tamil film directed by K. Balachander, whom the actor considers his mentor. He then worked in Tamil cinema often portraying antagonistic characters and gradually rose to acting in lead roles. Other than acting, Rajinikanth also worked as a producer, screenwriter, and playback singer. Apart from his film career, he is also a philanthropist, spiritualist and serves as an influence in the politics of Tamil Nadu.
Rajinikanth is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, for his contribution to Indian cinema. Post-1978, he became known as the "superstar" of Tamil cinema and has held a matinee idol status in the popular culture of India.[1] His mannerisms and stylized delivery of dialogue in films attributes to his mass popularity and appeal.[1] He was named one of the most influential persons in South Asia by Asiaweek.[1][2] While acting in many Indian languages, he has also appeared in the cinemas of other nations, including in that of the United States. After being paid Indian rupee26 crores (US$5.9 million) for his role in Sivaji (2007), he became the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan.[3][4]

Early life

Rajinikanth was born Shivaji Rao Gaikwad in a Maharashtrian family,[5] to mother Jijabai and father Ramoji Rao Gaikwad, on December 12, 1949 in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.[6] He was the youngest of four children and has two older brothers and a sister. After the death of his mother at the age of 5,[7] he struggled with an impoverished lifestyle during his childhood. During that time, he often did odd jobs as a coolie in his community.[8] He attended the Acharya Patasala for elementary education and had his higher education at the Ramakrishna Mission in Bangalore.
Between 1968 and 1973 he worked in many places in Chennai, thus moving continuously from Bangalore to Chennai. He performed various jobs before joining the then Bangalore Transport Service (BTS) as a bus conductor. In 1973, his friend and co-worker Raj Bahadur motivated him to join the Madras Film Institute and also financially supported him for 2 years during his studies.[9][6][10]


As of 2010, Rajinikanth has acted in over 150 films, including Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, English, and Bengali films.[11] After the release of his first Bollywood film, Andha Kanoon, Rajinikanth did not make as much of an impact in the Mumbai-based industry as he did in the south. He still appeared in several Hindi films, such as Chaalbaaz, Uttar Dakshin, Giraftaar and Hum. He appeared in a supporting role in the American film Bloodstone, co-produced by Ashok Amritraj in 1988, with much fanfare in India at the time of its release.[12] He also made brief stints in the German and Japanese film industries. His film Muthu was dubbed into Japanese and became a major hit in Japan.[13] In 2005, his film Chandramukhi was dubbed in German and released in all German-speaking nations.[14] Despite his first language being Marathi, Rajinikanth has not yet acted in any Marathi films.

Negative roles: 1975-1977

Rajinikanth debuted in Tamil cinema as a cancer patient in Apoorva Raagangal in 1975. The following year he acted in his first Kannada film, Katha Sangama which was directed by Puttanna Kanagal. He entered Telugu cinema through Anthuleni Katha, which was directed by K. Balachander, whom Rajinikanth has called his "guru" or mentor. Though Rajinikanth refers to director K. Balachander as his mentor, it was director S. P. Muthuraman who revamped Rajinikanth’s image entirely. Muthuraman first experimented with him in a positive role in Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri (1977), as a failed lover in the first half of the film and a protagonist in the second. Muthuraman has since directed Rajinikanth in 25 films. His film roles were sketchy either as a villain or as a supporting actor during the late 1970s, co-starring frequently with Kamal Haasan as the protagonist, in movies like 16 Vayadhinilae, Moondru Mudichu and Avargal, et al.

Breakthrough and success: 1978-1990

Rajinikanth as depicted in Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai (1979)
In 1978, Rajinikanth acted in the film Bairavi. This was the first Tamil film to cast him as a solo hero. Later Mullum Malarum won him critical acclaim. 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 evoke emotions. The acceptance of Rajinikanth sans his stylized mannerisms proved he had at last become a "star" from a "common actor."
During this phase of his career, when he was reaching dazzling heights, Rajinikanth abruptly chose to quit acting, but was coaxed back.[15] He continued acting with the blockbuster Tamil film Billa, which was a remake of the blockbuster Bollywood movie Don. Billa was followed by a row of hits, namely Murattu Kaalai, Pokkiri Raja, Thanikattu Raja, Naan Mahaan Alla and Moondru Mugam. K. Balachander’s first home production, Netrikan proved to be yet another milestone in Rajni’s career. He acted in his first cameo role alongside Meena Durairaj, who was a child actor then, in the movie Anbulla Rajinikanth (1984).
Though the decade was dominated by Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth still managed to outwit rivals like Mohan, Karthik, Prabu and Ramarajan with a steady stream of low-budget box-office hits throughout the 80s: Padikkathavan, Thee, Velaikaran, Dharmathin Thalaivan and Mr. Bharath.[16][17] In his 100th movie, Sri Raghavendra, he played the Hindu saint Raghavendra Swami.

Domination: 1991-present

The majority of his movies released during the nineties were extremely successful, notably Thalapathy, Mannan, Annamalai, Veera, Badsha, Muthu,[18] and Padayappa. Rajinikanth wrote his first screenplay and made a special appearance in the film Valli (1993), which failed to make an impact at the box office. His film Badsha emerged as an industrial record. His film Muthu was the first Tamil film to be dubbed into Japanese (as Mutu: Odoru Maharaja[19]) and grossed a record $1.6 million in Japan in 1998.[20] In fact, its success in Japan led the American news magazine Newsweek to comment in a 1999 article that Rajinikanth had "supplanted Leonardo DiCaprio as Japan's trendiest heartthrob".[21]
The new millennium began very well for Rajinikanth; Padayappa had reset the record of Badsha firmly entrenching his position in Tamil film history. 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 amid much fanfare and hype. The film did poorly at the box office due to a very weak screenplay, which Rajinikanth himself had written, in his second stint at screenplay-writing after Valli. The thin screenplay revolved around the story about a gangster who later engages in spirituality; it was a colossal disappointment and 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.[22][23]
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 film Chandramukhi. Many people within the industry had written Rajinikanth off after the Baba fiasco, essentially saying "the bloom was off the rose" and that "the gold does not glitter anymore".[24] 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. Chandramukhi broke the record of being the longest running Tamil film, as of 2007.[25]
Rajinikanth (right) in Sivaji (2007).
Just after Chandramukhi's release, it was reported that AVM Productions were to produce a film directed by S. Shankar starring Rajinikanth, the largest collaboration yet for a Tamil film. The film was titled Sivaji and released on June 15, 2007 after two years of filming and meticulous production. With massive international anticipation, it subsequently went on to become a major blockbuster, being ranked among other major Bollywood and Hollywood releases of the year. Sivaji became the first Tamil movie to be charted as one of the top-ten best films of United Kingdom and South Africa box-offices upon release.[26][27] Rajinikanth received a salary of Indian rupee26 crores, approximately US$5.3 million at the time, for his role the film, which made him become the second highest paid actor in all of Asia.[3][4]
Following Sivaji, Rajinikanth worked with P. Vasu again for Kuselan, a remake of the Malayalam film Kadha Parayumbol, in which Rajinikanth played an extended cameo role as himself, a star in the Indian film industry, and as a best friend to the main character. According to Rajinikanth, the film somewhat narrates his early life. The film performed poorly at box offices; many distributors incurred major losses due to the film, which Rajinikanth voluntarily settled with his own budget after pressure from different sections of the film world.[28][29]
During the course of the production for Sivaji, Ocher Studios, the animation company of Rajinikanth's daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth, in association with Adlabs announced their intention of producing a CGI animation film starring an animated version of Rajinikanth. In 2010, Rajinikanth appeared in Enthiran, a science fiction film directed by S. Shankar. Enthiran is reported to be the costliest Indian film ever made, with a budget of Indian rupee 162 crores (US $36 million).[30] The film released on October 1, 2010, and is said to have grossed Indian rupee250 crore worldwide[31][32]. Rajinikanth will soon be lending his voice to the lead character in the animation film Sultan the Warrior, which is being directed by his daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth.
A. R. Murugadoss had previously shown interest in directing Rajinikanth in his next feature film after Ghajini.[33] Rajinikanth has stated that he is interested in starring in Pyramid Saimira's next production, in order to compensate for Kuselan.[34]


Rajinikanth is consistently touted as the most popular South Indian film actor of his time.[35] Rajinikanth's popularity mostly originates from his uniquely styled dialogues and mannerisms in films, as well as his political statements and philanthropy. It is also suggested by the media that some popular actors who worked with Rajinikanth earlier in their careers, such as Gouthami Tadimalla and Nayanthara, were recognized because of their association with Rajinikanth, giving other aspiring actors the urge to work with him.[36] Some fellow actors, such as Cho Ramaswamy, have commentated that Rajinikanth has the potential to be successful in Indian politics due to his popularity and fan base alone.[37]
After the release of Muthu (1995), Rajinikanth became the only other Indian actor, after Shah Rukh Khan, to earn a Japanese fan base, opening a new market for Tamil films in the nation. Other films of Rajinikanth also released in Japan and garnered immense success, notably Chandramukhi (2005), and Sivaji (2007).[38] During a visit to Japan in 2006, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged the success of Muthu in the country during a speech, justifying the positive relationship between the two nations.[39][40] Chandramukhi is notable for being the longest-running Tamil film in India, playing for a total of over 800 days. Sivaji was instrumental in making one of the largest releases for an Indian film in the world; the film entered the list of top ten films of the United Kingdom upon release. Chandramukhi and Sivaji were also released in South Africa, where they eventually became high box-office grossers.[41] A clip from his 1990 Tamil film Adhisaya Piravi became a hugely popular viral video Little Superstar, an internet phenomenon in 2006.
A survey conducted in 2008 by Loyola College in Chennai suggested that Rajinikanth's popularity was decreasing in Tamil Nadu. The survey saw late actors M. G. Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan, as well as Joseph Vijay, topping the list with Rajinikanth closely following them, though he was still ahead of other actor-turned-politicians, such as Vijayakanth. However, the low result was attributed to Kuselan, which released at the time of the survey with an unsuccessful outcome at box offices.[42]

Awards and honours

Rajinikanth received his first Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Actor in 1984 for Nallavanuku Nallavan. He later received Filmfare Award nominations for his performances in Muthu (1995) and Sivaji (2007).[43] Rajinikanth also received Tamil Nadu State Film Awards in the Best Actor category for his roles in Moondru Mugam (1982), Muthu (1995), Padayappa (1999), Chandramukhi (2005), and Sivaji (2007). He also received awards from Cinema Express and Filmfans Association for his on-screen performances and off-screen contributions in writing and producing.[44]
Rajinikanth received the Kalaimamani award in 1985 and the M. G. R. Award in 1989, both from the Government of Tamil Nadu. In 1995, the South Indian Film Artistes' Association presented him with the Kalaichelvam Award. He was named and honoured with the Padma Bhushan award, India's third highest civilian honour, in 2000 from the Government of India.[45] He was selected as the Indian Entertainer of the Year for 2007 by NDTV, competing against the likes of Shahrukh Khan.[46] The Government of Maharashtra honoured him with the Raj Kapoor Award the same year. He received the Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan Award for Excellence in Indian Cinema at the 2010 ceremony of the Vijay Awards.[47]

Personal life


He married Latha Rangachari, an Iyengar,[48] whom he met during an exclusive interview, [49] on February 26, 1981, at the age of 31 in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. They have two daughters named Aishwarya Rajinikanth and Soundarya Rajinikanth. His wife, Latha Rajinikanth, currently runs a school named The Ashram. His elder daughter, Aishwarya Rajinikanth, married actor Dhanush on November 18, 2004 and they have two sons named Yathra and Linga.[50] His younger daughter, Soundarya Rajinikanth, works in the film industry as a director, producer and graphic designer. She married industrialist Ashwin Ramkumar on September 3, 2010.[51]


Rajinikanth is a follower of Hinduism, spiritualism, and a strong believer of spirituality.[52] As a reader, he also enjoys books on such topics.[53] He is also a practitoner of yoga and meditation.[7] Rajinikanth is known for visiting temples prior to the release of each of his films; for instance he visited the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple before the release of Sivaji in 2007 and visited Sathya Sai Baba at Prasanthi Nilayam in Andhra Pradesh before the release of Kuselan the following year.[54][55] He also occasionally leaves for pilgrimage to the Himalayas.[7] He has often referred to Swami Satchidananda, Ragavendra Swami, Mahavatar Babaji, and Ramana Maharishi as his favourite spiritual leaders.[56]
Some of the films Rajinikanth has appeared in lightly allude to his spiritual and religious activities in real life. His films Sri Raghavendra (1985) and Baba (2002) are based on Raghavendra Swami and Mahavatar Babaji, respectively. He also promotes spiritualism in his speeches during film related events.[57]


Several local fan associations of Rajinikanth in Tamil Nadu have continuously wanted him to take active participation in politics. In this regard, a few fans in Coimbatore started their own political party in 2008 for Rajinikanth, in an attempt to pressure his entry in politics. The party was named the Desiya Dravadar Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (DDMMK), introducing its own flag and symbol for the party.[58] After learning about this, Rajinikanth wrote an open letter to the media and declared that he had no connection with these events and warned fans not to indulge in such activities and that he would take legal action if they failed to adhere. He also mentioned that he was not interested in politics and thus, was only committed to working in films. He added that nobody can force him to enter politics, just as no one can stop him from entering it.[59]
Rajinikanth joined in support of Tamil actor Ajith Kumar, who spoke against the forceful inclusion of Tamil cinema personae in political affairs.[60] He attended an event organised in support of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause with the Tamil film fraternity in late 2008, taking part in a one-day fast demanding the government of Sri Lanka to stop the war, the murder of innocent civilians and to give Tamils their rights and their traditional land, stating this was in the best interests for the people of the island.[61]


In 1995, Rajinikanth announced that he is willing to support the Indian National Congress after meeting Prime Minister Narasimha Rao.[62] An opinion poll conducted by the magazine Kumudam predicted that Congress with Rajinikanth's support might win up to 130 seats in Tamil Nadu Assembly. In 1996, when the Congress Party decided to align with All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Rajinikanth supported Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) alliance. The TMC used a bicycle as their election symbol and used an image of Rajinikanth riding a bicycle from the film Annamalai in their posters. Rajinikanth said, "Even God cannot save Tamil Nadu if AIADMK returns to power." Rajinikanth wholeheartedly supported the DMK and TMC alliance and asked the people of Tamil Nadu and his fans to vote for that alliance. This alliance had a complete victory in 1996.[62]
In 1996, Rajinikanth supported the DMK-TMC alliance in parliamentary elections.[63]

Social work

In 2002, Rajinikanth undertook a daylong fast to protest the Government of Karnataka's decision to not release Kaveri River water into Tamil Nadu[64] and announced that he would contribute Indian rupee 10,000,000 toward a plan to interlink the Indian rivers. He met with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and many experts to canvass support for the project.[65] However, most other members of the Tamil film industry, including members of the South Indian Film Artistes' Association (SIFAA), organized their own solidarity protest. Film director Bharathi Raja stated that Rajinikanth was on the verge of dividing the film industry and called him "traitor who had a tacit understanding with the Karnataka government".[66]
During the 2008 hunger strike organized by SIFAA during the Hogenakkal water dispute, he reprimanded Karnataka politicians. Further, he appealed to leaders not to inflame the water project issue for political gains and requested that the issue should be resolved soon. He urged the Karnataka politicians "to speak the truth." "People are equal to God. They cannot be fooled and will not remain silent if you continue to act in such manner," he stated.[67] Leader of the Pro-Kannada group Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Vatal Nagaraj demanded an apology from Rajinikanth and threatened that he would not be allowed in the state of Karnataka and all his films would be boycotted for Rajinikanth's speech against Kannada politicians.[68]


In 2002, during Rajinikanth's own hunger strike for agitating the state of Karnataka to release Kaveri River water into Tamil Nadu, another hunger strike was organized by the Tamil film directors' association. Rajinikanth had yet continued with his own strike, leading to several criticism of Rajinikanth. Director Bharathi Raja, who also condemned other actors and politicians of Tamil Nadu, had stated that Rajinikanth was on the verge of dividing the film industry.[66]
Also in 2002, Pattali Makkal Katchi leader S. Ramadoss condemned him for smoking and posing with beedis in his film Baba. He was criticised for spoiling Tamil youth by glorifying smoking and drinking. PMK volunteers attacked theatres which screened the movie Baba and usurped film rolls and burnt it.[69] Famous film producers like M. Saravanan accused Ramadoss saying that cigarette smoking and drinking are shown in all movies and that Baba was just being "picked on" by the PMK leader because of his popularity in Vanniar areas which is considered PMK bastion. To stop controversies, Rajinikanth reported that he was not going to act in any roles that require him to drink or smoke. In keeping his words, the roles he appeared in thereafter did not show the actor drinking or smoking.
Following the release of Kuselan in Karnataka on August 1, 2008, Rajinikanth thanked the Kannada film industry for allowing the release of his latest film and lifting the ban. He gave an open statement clarifying his stand to the people of Karnataka and regretted for not being clear in his speech during the South Indian Film Artistes' Association's hunger strike for the Hogenakkal Integrated Drinking Water Project, which many Kannada activists and politicians found offending. Actors Sathyaraj, Radha Ravi, and R. Sarathkumar condemned the apology as a "disgrace to Tamils."[70]


He converted one of his banquet halls, the Raghavendra Marriage Hall, to a charitable trust to help the needy. As of 2007, he planned to construct a new hospital and a new school on a piece of land near Chennai.[71]

Notable filmography

Year Title Role(s) Language Awards
1975 Apoorva Raagangal Abaswaram Tamil
1976 Moondru Mudichu
1977 16 Vayathinile Parattai Tamil
Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri Aravind Tamil
1977 Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri Aravind Tamil
1978 Mullum Malarum Kaali Tamil
1979 Ninaithale Inikkum
Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai Santhanam Tamil
1980 Billa Billa,
Murattu Kaalai Kaalaiyan Tamil
1981 Thillu Mullu Indran/
1982 Moondru Mugam Alex Pandian,
Tamil Winner: Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
1984 Nallavanuku Nallavan Manickam Tamil Winner: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
1985 Sri Raghavendra Raghavendra Swami Tamil
1991 Thalapathi Surya Tamil
1992 Annamalai Annamalai Tamil
1993 Yejaman Vanavarayan Tamil
1995 Badsha Manickam/
Manick Badsha
Muthu Muthu,
Tamil Winner: Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
1997 Arunachalam Arunachalam,
1999 Padayappa Aarupadayappan Tamil Winner: Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
2005 Chandramukhi Dr. Saravanan,
King Vettaiyan
Tamil Winner: Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
2007 Sivaji Sivaji Arumugam Tamil Winner: Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
2010 Enthiran Dr. Vaseegaran,
Chitti Babu

Further reading

Sreekanth, Gayathri (2008). The Name is Rajinikanth. Om Books International. ISBN 9788129113559.

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