When it comes to naming personalities who represent Indian cinema and not just Bollywood, there are three names that are bound to be mentioned representing three different languages yet tying the country into a single string of genius. These three names would be those of Amitabh Bachchan, Uttam Kumar, and Rajnikanth.
The Early Life of Rajnikanth
Rajnikanth, also known as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, was born on December the 12th, 1950 in Bengaluru, Karnataka. He is a Maharashtrian by birth. After his mother’s death he had to lead a life of abject poverty where he made his ends meet by doing odd jobs like that of a coolie.
For this reason he could only finish his elementary school. He later did many jobs in Chennai and Bangalore and later joined the Bangalore Transport Service as a bus conductor. That was the time when he began participating in stage roles, his most famous one being Duryodhana, the villain from Mahabharata.
He later joined the Madras Film Institute. After that, he learnt to converse in Tamil and it proved to be a boon for his career.
His Work and Significant Achievements
Rajnikanth’s first film was Apoorva Raagangal and the movie won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil; however he had a small role of an abusive husband in it. He did various films subsequently, playing negative roles and mostly the roles of a supporting actor.
His first film as a protagonist, a failed lover, was Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri. Bairavi was the first film where he was cast as an all-out hero. His first ever commercial success was a Tamil film Billa which was a remake of a Bollywood blockbuster Don.
Rajnikanth’s last film in Kannada and Malayalam was Garjanai. He made his mark in Bollywood through Andha Kanoon, starring with the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini. His Tamil film Nallavanuku Nallavan won him the Filmfare award for Best Actor.
His 100th film was an eponymous role of the Hindu saint Sri Raghavendra. It was the decade of 90s that established him as a superstar. He starred with Amitabh again in the film Hum.
He did various hit films during this period like Thalapathi, Annamalai, Mannan, Veera and Baasha. Muthu became one of his most known Tamil films which went on to be dubbed into Japanese, creating a huge fan base for Rajnikanth in Japan.
In the early 2000s he hit a slump when a few of his films did not score well and he was charged for spoiling the youth by portraying smoking onscreen. In 2005, Rajnikanth featured in Chandramukhi, a Tamil horror comedy film that was the longest running Tamil film as of 2007.
The film was also dubbed in German and Turkish. In 2007, Rajnikanth starred in Sivaji, a film that hit the top ten list in the UK and South Africa and Rajnikanth grossed a whooping Rs. 26 crore for the movie, making him the highest paid Asian actor after Jackie Chan.
Rajnikanth rejoined the maker of Sivaji, S Shankar in Enthiran, the most expensive Indian film ever made and also the highest grossing Indian film, as the movie bagged Rs. 45 crore as remuneration for Rajnikanth.
His work and popularity as a person has won him many awards including the Padma Bhushan, and a name in the list of the most influential persons in South Asia by Asiaweek and in India by Forbes India.
His Personal Life
Rajnikanth married Latha in the year 1981 and they have two daughters – Soundarya and Aishwarya. His wife runs The Ashram, a school, and his younger daughter is a graphic designer, producer and director.
He is one of the biggest Indian films stars with accolades from all over the world. The actor has an enormous fan base and holds a strong influence on Dravidian politics.
He is a part of case studies and bilateral linkages between India and Japan and has been the face of Tamil Cinema ever since his success in the early 90s. He is still making history with his persona, and his next film on the floor is Rana.