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Rajinikanth - Tamil Film Actor
(Date of Birth - December 12, 1949)
The immense popularity of Tamil movie star Rajinikanth ranks among the great mysteries of mankind.
With a face and personality that can only charitably be described as "not handsome", Rajinikanth's rock star popularity - not just in the state of Tamil Nadu (in South India) but strangely enough even in Japan - defies explanation.
His popularity and mass appeal leave all his peers - including his contemporary Kamal Haasan - in the shade. Rajinikanth is also believed to be the second highest paid actor in Asia, after the Hong Kong action movie star Jackie Chan.
Rajinikanth - the star - is no great actor.
If you enjoy watching top notch actors like Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Robert De Niro, Robert Redford or Jack Nicholson, then Rajinikanth's acting seems pedestrian and downright crude. Even among the bunch of mostly mediocre Indian actors, Rajinikanth is a below par actor.
But like most successful people in the world, Rajinikanth possesses two qualities that have stood him in good stead - persistence and luck.
Born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad into a Marathi family in the neighboring state of Karnataka on December 12, 1949, Rajinikanth has acted in about 150 films, most of them in the South Indian language of Tamil.
What adds allure to Rajinikanth's appeal with the masses is that unlike most of the current crop of Tamil actors like Surya, Vijay, Simbhu and Vishal, Rajinikanth (like MGR and Sivaji Ganeshan before him) came from humble origins.
Before his successful foray into films, Rajinikanth worked as a bus conductor with the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation. His fierce passion for movies led him to join the Chennai Film Institute in 1973.
Rajinikanth started his movie innings in 1976 with the Kannada language film Kathaa Sangama directed by the acclaimed film maker Puttana Kanagal. But it was his performance in Veteran Tamil film director K.Balachandar's Apoorva Raagangal (1975) that brought him into the limelight.
Balachandar also gave him the screen name Rajinikanth.
Several of Rajinikanth's films including Billa, Basha, Muthu and Chandramukhi were phenomenal hits with the audience. But others like Baba met with a lukewarm audience reception.
Some of the dialogs of Rajinikanth's movies have become so well known that most Tamil film aficionados can easily recite it from memory. Take for instance, the line from Basha - Naan oru dhadavai sonna nooru dhadavai sonna madhiri (If I say it once, it's like saying it 100 times) and the following line from Annamalai - Naan solrathaiyum seiven, sollathathiyum seiven (I will do what I say and I will also do what I don't say).
Rajinikanth's last movie Sivaji was released on June 15, 2007. Directed by Shankar, Sivaji also stars Shriya Saran and Prakash Raj.
Although most of his films are in Tamil, Rajinikanth has acted in a few Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam movies. He has also acted in a Hollywood film called Bloodstone (1988) with Brett Stimely and Anna Nicholas.
Married to Latha, Rajinikanth has two daughters Aishwarya (wife of Tamil film actor Dhanush) and Soundarya.