Rajinikanth, who is fondly known as Thalaivaa, is the biggest superstar India has ever seen. He is the most bankable superstar, always earning record-breaking collection at the box-office. His new movie Kabali will hit 400 screens in the US, which is the biggest release for a Rajinikanth movie. His mass appeal spans over generations. The day of his movie release is not just another day, it is a celebration for those who consider him to be a God, which is half the country. He has a huge fan following not only in India but worldwide. Rajinikanth’s journey from a modest beginning to a superstar has been a very interesting one.
Here is a look at the journey of the Thalaivaa.
When Rajinikanth was not Rajinikanth…
Rajinikanth was born on 12th December 1950 as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad into a modest Marathi family in Karnataka. He took up many odd jobs, one of which was as a conductor employed by the Bangalore Transport Service. Even as a conductor he knew how to entertain and pull a crowd with his unique style. Around this time, he joined the Madras Film institute. He was noticed while performing in one of the plays by director K Balachander, who Rajinikanth still refers to as his Guru.
Superstar was born…
Rajinikanth was given an acting break by K Balachander in his Tamil movie titled Apoorva Raagangal in 1975, with Kamal Haasan and Srividya in the lead. Rajinikanth showed a lot of promise in a supporting role of an old man suffering from cancer and returns into his wife’s (played by Srividya) life towards the end. Who would have thought that this man debuting with a small role would go on to be Superstar Rajinikanth, loved and respected by many, years later. The movie went on to win three National Awards.
He then went on to do a Kannada film titled Katha Sangama, which was directed by Puttanna Kanagal. Throughout 1975-1977, Rajinikanth portrayed negative roles with his own unique style in movies such as 16 Vayathinile, Avargal and Moondru Mudichu, which made him the baddie people loved to hate.
The watershed moment in Rajinikanth’s life came with his essaying a positive role in Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai (1979) and a similar role in Padikkathavan (1985). These films transformed him from a baddie people hated to a performer people loved and they put him on a path to becoming a legend.
However, at the peak of his career he decided to quit acting (*gasp*) but was successfully persuaded into coming back (thank god).
His 150th film, Padayappa, was a massive success and it had the biggest ever opening at the time in the Tamil film industry. Rajinikanth starred in yet another blockbuster called Baasha (1995), which achieved a cult status with just one word on every Tamilian’s lips – Baasha.
(Style Style Thaan!)
His movie Muthu (1995) was the first Tamil movie to be dubbed into Japanese as Muthu: The Dancing Maharaja, which made him immensely popular in Japan.
The Superstar forays into Bollywood…
He made his Bollywood debut with Andha Kanoon in 1983 along with Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini, which went on to become a huge success. His other Bollywood movies were Chalbaaz (1989), Insaaniyat Ke Devta (1993), Gangvaa (1984), John Jani Janardhan (1984), Hum (1991) and many more.
He did big budget movies such as Sivaji (2007), Robot (2010) and Kochadaiiyan (2014) around this time. Robot, made at a cost of over Rs 100 crore, was considered to be the most expensive movie at the time.
His one liners like Mind it!, Ithu Eppadi Irruku (How’s this?), Style Style Thaan and now Kabali Da, which he delivers in his trademark style has everyone burst out into thunderous claps.
Did you know?
Coming from a Marathi background, he has yet to star in a Marathi film.
Even when he is not playing a role in a movie, he still is part of it. How, you ask? Like this…
The Kabali fever…
The Kabali fever has gripped the world with the teaser crossing over 25 million views on YouTube. Fans in Bengaluru can catch the first day first show of Kabali in Chennai, thanks to AirAsia who have arranged for special flights just for them. There is even a silver coin with the Superstar’s image being offered by a leading South Indian financing company. If this is not crazy, we don’t know what is. Even at the age of 65, he still has been able to retain his trademark style.
Hope you are as excited about watching Kabali as we are!
— By Stacey Prince