The name Rajinikanth brings a wave of emotions to any true Indian movie lover. He is an exceptional actor for some while for some he is God. Yes, his ardent fans have gone to the length of establishing a “Sahasra Lingam” at Kotilingeshwara Temple, a well known Shiva Temple in Kolar District of Karnataka. The actor may be filmy but his life story is just as filmy. From being a regular bus conductor he went on to conquer the Indian film industry. He is known not only in India but has fans in Japan (His film Muthu crossed 175 days and was a massive hit in Japan) and other countries worldwide.

But, have you ever wondered who is Rajinikanth off-screen? Behind the larger-than-life roles that the superstar has been playing all these years, he is a simple human being. A man filled with humility, a man who has had to struggle to get where he has today.

Here are a few interesting things you need to know about the Thalaiva:

Compensated distributors for their loss

A superstar like Rajinikanth can also have flop movies in their filmography, such is the nature of film industries. When his 2002 film Baba bombed at the box-office he made sure he compensated the film distributors and theatre owners. Rajinikanth probably felt the need to do so because apart from being the main lead in the film he was also the story-writer and the producer for the film.

He again compensated distributors who faced losses for his 2008 film Kuselan. Rajini fans went to the cinemas thinking this film was an all-out Rajini film but they were highly disappointed when they realized that their superstar had only a small role. He had to do the same when his film Lingaa didn’t do well at the box-office.

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The actor was in all the instances not bound to compensate anyone but he did so. He may have compensated for Baba because he morally felt it was the right thing to do. Here, one interesting fact we should mention is that when distributors make a profit, the profit is not distributed among others.

Quit smoking off-screen and on-screen

The actor is also known for his style-statements. Be it flicking a cigarette, wearing sunglasses, or his peculiar walk – in whatever he does becomes a trendsetter. He, however, gave up one of his trendsetting styles – smoking. He smoked in almost all his past movies. On his 63rd birthday, Thalaiva urged fans to stop smoking. He stopped endorsing the cancer-causing sticks in his films altogether. His request was taken seriously by fans and many quit smoking soon after.

Does not celebrate his birthday in Chennai anymore

A superstar’s birthday is celebrated with much fanfare in our country. And the celebrations for an actor like Rajinikanth’s birthday can only be grand. On his birthday which is 12th December, it is said that the actor deliberately stays away from the city. In 2015, because of the Chennai floods, celebrations were suspended while in 2016 due to the death of the then-CM Jayalalitha, his birthday celebrations were called off. But one not much talked about why it is said is that the actor made this conscious decision to be away from the city because of an incident that left him sad. In 1992, three of his fans died in an accident on their way back from his birthday celebrations in Chennai and since then he has vowed to either stay from from the city or to stop celebrating in public in order to control the crowd.

Does not endorse brands

The actor, unlike many other superstars, does not endorse products. Apart from the Palm Cola ad that not many know of till date, the actor has not put his name behind any other brand. He appeared in a documentary that urged people to donate eyes.

His contribution to society

His Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam was converted into a charitable trust to help the poor and needy. In 2015 when Chennai was affected by floods, he opened up the Mandapam to accommodate sanitary workers from various districts engaged in the work to clean up the mess created by the floods. In 2002, the actor went on a daylong fast to protest Karnataka government’s decision to not release Kaveri River into Tamil Nadu.

It is not just the superstar but also his fans who are involved in great social causes. His fan associations regularly organize blood donation and eye donation camps in his name.

These are only a few things that make Thalaiva a hero, not only when the cameras are on but also when the cameras are off. A true legend, a true superstar, and a true icon – Rajinikanth is the hero we all deserve. We’ll see this hero in Petta soon when the film hits the big-screen on the 10th of January, 2019. Will it be a perfect Pongal treat? Lets wait and find out.