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Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad
12 December 1950 (1950-12-12) (age 59)
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Other name(s) Rajini
Occupation Film actor
Years active 1975–present
Spouse(s) Latha Rangachari

Shivaji Rao Gaekward (born on 12 December 1950),[1] professionally known by his stage name Rajinikanth (Tamil: ரஜினிகாந்த்; Kannada: ರಜನೀಕಾಂತ್; Marathi: रजनीकांत), is an Indian film actor. He received India's third highest honour, the Padma Bhushan, for his contribution to Indian cinema.[2] He is best known for his mass popularity and appeal, largely drawn from his mannerisms and stylized delivery of dialogue in films. Other than acting, Rajinikanth worked as a screenwriter, film producer, and also a playback singer. Apart from his film career, he is a philanthropist and also serves as an influence in the politics of Tamil Nadu.

Rajinikanth debuted as an actor in 1975 under the direction of Putanna Kanagal.[3][4] He was later favoured in portraying antagonistic characters and gradually rose to acting in lead roles. After the release of his 1978 Tamil film Bhairavi, he became known as the "super star" of Tamil cinema, which was the title given to him by film producer S. Thanu and till this date used by many people to refer to him.[5][6] He also appeared in the cinemas of other nations, including American cinema. He was paid Rs. 26 crores (approximately USD 6 million) for Sivaji, making him the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan.[7][8]


Early life

Rajinikanth was born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad into a Marathi family in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. He was the fourth child of his parents, Ramabai and Ramoji Rao Gaekwad,[9] a police constable. He lost his mother at the age of five. He attended elementary school 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 yet acted in any Marathi films.[10]

He worked with various jobs in Bangalore and 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.[11] His charisma and style were noted by the passengers who travelled with him and gave him suggestions in becoming an actor. It was during this time that he nurtured his acting interests by performing in various stage plays.[11]

Acting career

Rajinikanth joined the Madras Film Institute in 1974.[9] Rajinikanth made his debut into movies through Katha Sangama and later entered Bollywood with Andha Kanoon.[9] He still appeared in several Hindi films, such as Chaalbaaz, Uttar Dakshan, Giraftaar and Hum. He starred in the 1988 American film Bloodstone, which released with much fanfare in India, however, unsuccessful in the United States. He also made brief stints in the Japanese and German language film industries. His 1995 film Muthu was dubbed into Japanese while his 2005 film Chandramukhi was dubbed in German and released in all German-speaking nations. As of 2002, he has acted in over 150 films, which includes Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, English and Bengali language films.

Supporting roles: 1975–1977

Rajinikanth's first film was Katha Sangama, a Kannada film directed by Putanna Kanagal in 1975 later that year he acted in Tamil cinema, where he was initially cast in supporting roles, debuting in Tamil film as a cancer patient in Apoorva Raagangal in the same year.[9] The film was directed by K. Balachander, who is constantly referred to by Rajinikanth as his own "guru" or mentor.[citation needed]. Though Rajinikanth refers to director K. Balachander as his mentor, it was director S. P. Muthuraman who actually revamped Rajinikanth’s image entirely.[citation needed] Muthuraman first experimented with him in a positive role in Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri (1977), as a villain in the first half of the film and a protagonist in the second. Around this time Mullum Malarum (1978), directed by J. Mahendran, established Rajinikanth in the Tamil film arena as a film hero. 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;[citation needed] 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." His film roles were mainly as a villain during the period 1975 to 1977, co-starring frequently with Kamal Haasan as the protagonist, in movies like 16 Vayadhinilae, Moondru Mudichu and Avargal. In 1978, Rajinikanth acted in the film Bairavi.

Lead roles: 1978–1989

During this phase of his career, Rajinikanth abruptly chose to quit acting, but was coaxed back.[12] He continued acting with the blockbuster Tamil film Billa, which was a remake of the blockbuster bollywood movie Don. With its phenomenal success he was accepted as a full-fledged hero. Billa was followed by a row of hits, namely Murattu Kaalai, 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 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). More box-office hits dominated the 80's with Padikkathavan, Thee, Velaikaran, Dharmathin Thalaivan, Mr. Bharath, and Maaveeran.[13] In his 100th movie, Sri Raghavendra, he played the Hindu saint Raghavendra Swami.

Career peak: 1989–1999

The movies released during the nineties included Thalapathy, Mannan, Annamalai, Uzhaippali, Veera, Baasha, Muthu,[14] Arunachalam and Padayappa. Rajinikanth wrote his first screenplay and acted as a special appearance in the film Valli (1993). His film Baasha was released in 1995. His film Muthu was the first Tamil film to be dubbed into Japanese as Muthu: The Dancing Maharajah and became very popular in Japan.[15][16] Padayappa's release in 1999. Padayappa was directed by K. S. Ravikumar.

Baba: 2002

After more than a three year sabbatical from cinema, at 52 years of age, he starred in his home production, Baba which released on 15 August 2002. The screenplay revolved around the story about a gangster who later engages in spirituality. It fell short of market expectations and the high bids reportedly translated to heavy losses for the distributors which Rajinikanth repaid.[17][18]

Recent work: 2005–present

Rajinikanth chose to act in director P. Vasu's Tamil remake of Manichithrathazhu, Chandramukhi. Chandramukhi was released on 14 April 2005, and went on to create new box office records such as being the longest running Tamil film, as of 2007.[19] Just after Chandramukhi's release, it was reported that AVM Productions were to produce a film directed by S. Shankar starring Rajinikanth. The film was titled Sivaji: The Boss and released on 15 June 2007 went on to become ranked among other major Bollywood and Hollywood releases of the year. Sivaji charted as one of the top-ten best films of United Kingdom and South Africa box-offices upon release.[20][21]

Following Sivaji, Rajinikanth worked with P. Vasu again for Kuselan, a remake of the Malayalam film Kadha Parayumbol, in which Rajinikanth played a cameo role as himself, a star in the Indian film industry, and as a best friend to the main character. Some distributors incurred major losses due to the film, for which Rajinikanth voluntarily settled with his own budget.[22][23]

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. He will be lending his voice to the lead character in the project is titled Sultan: The Warrior; it will be directed by his daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth with music provided by A. R. Rahman. Rajinikanth has also been signed to work with the Sivaji team of S. Shankar and A. R. Rahman for another movie, tentatively entitled Endhiran. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will play opposite Rajinikanth as heroine for the first time.

A. R. Murugadoss had previously shown interest in directing Rajinikanth in his next feature film after Ghajini.[24] Rajinikanth has stated that he is interested in starring in Pyramid Saimira's next production, in order to compensate for Kuselan.[25] Rajinikanth announced that he will no longer be acting in "youth roles" after Endhiran and will begin to act in roles which will be closer to his real age.

Awards and honours

Rajinikanth was named as one of the influential persons in South Asia by Asiaweek.[26] He has won a Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award for Nallavanuku Nallavan in 1984 while having a nomination for his performance in Muthu in 1995.[27]

Between 1977 and 2009, Rajinikanth received several awards from Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, Filmfare Awards, Cinema Express and Filmfans Association for his on-screen performances and off-screen contributions in writing and producing. He has received awards in the Best Actor category for his performance in the films Sivaji, Chandramukhi, Padayappa, Peddarayudu, Baasha, Muthu, Annamalai, Thalapathy, Velaikaran, Sri Raghavendra, Nallavanuku Nallavan, Moondru Mugam, Enkeyo Ketta Kural, Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai, Mullum Malarum and 16 Vayathinile. He received an award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Bhuvana Oru Kelvi Kuri. He has also received awards in Best Story Writer and Best Producer categories for Valli.

He has also received other honours such as the Raj Kapoor Award in 2007 from the Government of Maharashtra. He was named and honoured with the Padma Bhushan award, India's third highest civilian honour, in 2000 from the Government of India.[2] In September 2005, Rajinikanth won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor for his role in the film Chandramukhi. Recently, he was selected as the Indian Entertainer of the Year for 2007 by NDTV, competing against the likes of Shahrukh Khan.[28]

Notable filmography

Year Title Role(s) Language Notes
1975 Katha Sangama Kannada
1975 Apoorva Raagangal Tamil
1976 Moondru Mudichu Tamil
1977 Sahodarara Saval Kannada
16 Vayathinile Parattai Tamil
Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri Tamil
Galate Samsara Kannada
1978 Mullum Malarum Kali Tamil
Ilamai Oonjaladukirathu Murali Tamil
1979 Ninaithale Inikkum Tamil
Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai Santhanam Tamil
1980 Billa Billa,
Tamil Portrayed a dual role
Johnny Johnny,
Tamil Portrayed dual role
Murattu Kalai Kalaiyan Tamil
1981 Thee Tamil
Thillu Mullu Indran,
Tamil Single role but played both characters
1982 Moondru Mugam Alex Pandian,
Tamil Portrayed three roles
1984 Nallavanuku Nallavan Manikkam Tamil Winner: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
1985 Sri Raghavendra Raghavendra Swami Tamil
1991 Thalapathi Surya Tamil
1992 Annamalai Annamalai Tamil
1995 Baasha Manick Baasha Tamil
Muthu Muthu,
Tamil Winner: Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
Portrayed a dual role
1997 Arunachalam Arunachalam,
Tamil Portrayed a dual role
1999 Padayappa Aaru Padayappan Tamil Winner: Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
2002 Baba Baba Tamil
2005 Chandramukhi Dr. Saravanan,
Tamil Winner: Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
Portrayed a dual role
2007 Sivaji: The Boss Sivaji Arumugam Tamil Winner: Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor[29]
Nominated: Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award
2010 Endhiran Vaseegaran,
Tamil Filming

Personal life

He married Latha Rangachari, on 26 February 1981, at the age of 31 in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh and 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 18 November 2004 and they have one son named Yathra. His second daughter, Soundarya Rajinikanth, works in the film industry as a director, producer and graphic designerand got engaged to industrialist Ashwin Ramkumar on 17 February 2010.


Supported political parties

In 1995, Rajinikanth announced that he is willing to support the Indian National Congress after meeting Prime Minister Narasimha Rao.[30] An opinion poll conducted by Kumudam magazine predicted that Congress with Rajinikanth support may 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.[30]

In 1996, Rajinikanth supported the DMK-TMC alliance in parliamentary elections.[31]

Cauvery river strikes

In 2002, Rajinikanth undertook a day-long fast to protest Karnataka's decision to not to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.[32] and announced that he would contribute Rs.10 million towards interlinking of Indian rivers scheme. He met Prime Minister Vajpayee and many experts to canvass support for interlinking Indian rivers scheme.[33] Other members of the Tamil film industry, including members of the Actors Association the DMK, had planned a solidarity protest and 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".[34]

During the 2008 Hunger Strike organized by the South Indian Film Artistes' Association in support of the Hogenakkal drinking water project, he reprimanded Karnataka politicians. Further, he appealed to leaders not to flame up this 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.[35] Leader of the Pro-Kannada group Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Vatal Nagaraj demanded an apology from Rajinikanth and threatened that he will not be allowed in the state of Karnataka and all his films will be boycotted for Rajinikanth's speech against Kannada politicians.[36]

2008 mock party

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 the name of Rajinikanth and introduced their own flags and symbols for the party in mid-2008. When the actor heard about this, he wrote an open letter to the press and declared that he had no connection with these events and has strictly warned fans not to indulge in such activities, and failing to adhere would cause him to take up legal action against them. He also mentioned that he was not interested in politics and thus, was only committed to the production of his film Endhiran. He also added that nobody can force him to enter politics, as clear as the fact that none can stop him from entering it at the right time too.[37]


He converted one of his banquet halls, the Raghavendra Marriage Hall, to a charitable trust to help the needy.[38] He is planning to construct a new hospital and a new school on a piece of land near Chennai.[39]


  1. ^ "'Even more acclaim will come his way' - Times of India". Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  2. ^ a b "Civilian Awards announced on 26 January 2000" (in Tamil). Ministry of Home Affairs (India). Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
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  6. ^
  7. ^ Profits from the Sivaji Movie
  8. ^ "Superstar: Rajnikanth second highest paid actor in Asia - CNN IBN". Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  9. ^ a b c d Gupta, Om (2006). Encyclopaedia of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Gyan Publishing House. ISBN 9788182053892. 
  10. ^ "Rajinikanth-History". 1950-12-12. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  11. ^ a b "Meet the bus driver Rajni worked with". 13 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  12. ^ "'Yesterday I was a conductor, today I'm a star'". 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  13. ^ "First Experience of Rajinikanth". Retrieved 2007-10-29. 
  14. ^ "It's India-Japan Friendship Year" (in Tamil). The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  15. ^ " - History". Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  16. ^ Gautaman Bhaskaran (6 January 2002). "Rajnikanth casts spell on Japanese viewers". The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  17. ^ N Sathiya Moorthy (3 May 2003). "Film producer GV commits suicide". Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  18. ^ Sudhish Kamath (12 May 2004). "Superstar wannabes". The Hindu: Metro Plus. Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  19. ^ name="The Final Vedict">"The Final Verdict - History". Movie Buzz. Retrieved 2005-05-08. 
  20. ^ "United Kingdom Box Office June 15–17, 2007". Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  21. ^ "South Africa Box Office August 3–5, 2007". Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  22. ^ "'Kuselan' – A boon or bane to Tamil cinema - Tamil Movie News". IndiaGlitz. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  23. ^ "Rajinikanth returns Rs. 10 crores? | Regional News - Yahoo! India Movies". 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  24. ^ "Murugadoss to direct Rajini? - Tamil Movie News". IndiaGlitz. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  25. ^ "Rajinikanth budges, Exhibitor's still adamant - Tamil Movie News". IndiaGlitz. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  26. ^ "Actor Rajinikanth | Tamil Superstar | Indian Film Industry". 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  27. ^ "Awards for RajiniKanth Movies". Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  28. ^ "NDTV presents Indian of the Year awards". Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  29. ^ "State awards for Rajini, Kamal? - Tamil Movie News". IndiaGlitz. 2005-08-31. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  30. ^ a b "The making of 'Sivaji'". Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  31. ^ "Tamil Cinema 1998-Year Highlights (Part-2)". Dinakaran. 1998-01-21. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  32. ^ "Rediff India News: Rajinikanth fasts for Cauvery waters". 2002-10-13. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  33. ^ "Rediff India News:Rajinikanth to meet Indian PM". 2002-10-14. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  34. ^ "Rally exposes politicised film industry". 2002-10-12. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  35. ^ "» Rajnikanth blasts Karnataka over water project - Thaindian News". Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  36. ^ "Karnataka groups demand apology". 2008-04-05. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  37. ^ "No one can compel me to enter politics". 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  38. ^ "History". 1949-12-12. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  39. ^ "Rajini to build hospital, school". Retrieved 2007-04-20. 

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