Superstar Rajinikanth is way more than just an actor – he is almost considered as a God especially when it comes to his huge fan following down South.
Rajinikanth was born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad on December 12, 1950 in a Marathi family in Bangalore. He was named after the Maratha warrior, Chhatrapati Shivaji. Rajinikanth was the fourth child of Jijabai and Ramojirao Gaekwad, who was a police constable. In the initial years of his childhood and youth, he struggled a lot due to financial issues. Though he came from a Marathi background, Rajinikanth has not acted in any Marathi films as yet.
At the start of his career, he took up a number of odd jobs including being a carpenter and a coolie. He was later employed by Bangalore Transport Service (BTS), where he worked as a bus conductor. He then began to take part in stage plays. He was also offered a part in playwright Topi Muniappa’s mythological plays.
It was during this time that he came across an advert for acting classes at the Madras Film Institute and decided to join against the wishes of his family. His friend and co-worker Raj Bahadur supported him financially during his course.
During one of his onstage performances at the institute,Tamil film director K Balachander noticed him and advised him to learn Tamil, which Rajinikanth followed without delay.
He made his debut in Tamil cinema with ‘Apoorva Raagangal’ (1975), where he played a supporting role of an abusive husband opposite Srividya. The movie was well received and went on to win three National Awards. The following year he forayed into Kannada films with ‘Katha Sangama’, directed by Puttanna Kanagal.
Director S. P. Muthuraman revamped Rajinikanth’s onscreen image entirely and first experimented with him in ‘Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri’ (1977) in a slightly negative role in the first half of he film and later as a protagonist. Soon after, J. Mahendran’s ‘Mullum Malarum’ established Rajinikanth in Tamil cinema.
Banking in on the success of ‘Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri’, Muthuraman made melodrama ‘Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai’, where Rajinikanth played a hero who sacrifices everything for his siblings.
This was the turning point in his career, where he went from an actor to a performer who not only enthralled his audience but moved them to tears.
Between 1975 to 1977, Rajinikanth took up a number of villainous roles in films like ‘16 Vayadhinilae’, ‘Moondru Mudichu’ and ‘Avargal’. Towards the end of the 80s, Rajinikanth had gained immense popularity down South. He suddenly decided to take a break and quit acting, but was coaxed back.
He made a comeback with ‘Billa’, which was remake of Bollywood film, ‘Don’. His double role made the film a huge commercial success. ‘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 Rajinikanth’s continued…