Known as the Superstar of South, Rajinikanth, born on December 12, 1949 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. It was K. Balachander who re-christened him as Rajinikanth after a character in his play Major Chandrakanth. 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. His mannerisms and stylized delivery of dialogue in films attributes to his mass popularity and appeal. He was named one of the most influential persons in South Asia by Asia week. 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 26 crores for his role in Sivaji (2007), he became the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan, while it has been reported that he was paid a remuneration of 45 crores for his latest film, Enthiran (2010).
Rajinikanth was born Shivaji Rao Gaikwad in a Maharashtrian family, to mother Jijabai and father Ramoji Rao Gaikwad, on December 12, 1949 in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. 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, he struggled with an impoverished lifestyle during his childhood. During that time, he often did odd jobs as a coolie in his community. He attended the Acharya Patashala for elementary education and had his higher education at the Ramakrishna Mission in Bangalore.
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). 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. 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. He was selected as the Indian Entertainer of the Year for 2007 by NDTV, competing against the likes of Shahrukh Khan. 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.
He married Latha Rangachari, an Iyengar, whom he met during an exclusive interview, 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. 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.