Tamil Superstar Rajinikanth Turns 61
Tamil Nadu (Southern State in India) celebrated the birthday of its Superstar Rajinikanth on Sunday.
‘Rajini’ as he is affectionately known was born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad in the neighbouring state of Karnataka on December 12, 1949.
Many fans from his over 70,000 official fan clubs (yes, you read correctly) hoarded larger than life cut-out posters, lined up special prayers, gave out sweets and conducted welfare activities to commemorate his birthday.
Yet, the second highest paid star in Asia after Jackie Chan had very humble beginnings.
After the death of his mother at the age of five, Rajinikanth struggled with an impoverished lifestyle during his childhood and completed his higher education at Ramakrishna Mission, Bangalore.
Rajinikanth did many odd jobs, most notably as a bus conductor in Bangalore. It was during his stint as a bus conductor that Rajinikanth bonded with the bus driver, Raj Bahadur plying the same route as him.
Bahadur ,who became Rajinikanth’s best friend and mentor, encouraged him to enroll in the Adyar Film Institute, Madras (now Chennai) and supported him financially for two years so that the future star could complete his training.
Initially, Rajnikanth got only supporting and villain roles which he took as an opportunity to showcase his unique mannerisms like tossing up the cigarette to his mouth and delivering ‘punch’ dialogues.
Soon, directors took notice of the unique star, an ‘outsider’ with no family connection in the industry and was not a Tamilan, to cast as the main ‘hero’ in films. And the rest was history.
Today, Rajinikanth is a demi-god in Tamil Nadu only because he understands his audience but at 61, he still entertains them with what they want. This is in contrast with other ‘heros’, who upon earning some fame, went on to form political parties and start positioning themselves for personal glory and political aspirations.
Rajinikanth’s mass entertainers have a ‘good win over evil’ theme with entertaining action sequences, catchy songs and good-natured humour.
His new films are known to keep all other film releases at least two weeks away from cinemas and they play non-stop 24 hours to full capacity at all centres during those two weeks. Indians also have a habit of watching the same film in the cinema multiple times and in the case of Rajinikanth films, in multiple Indian languages.
Deeply religious, which Rajinikanth attributes to the kindness received at Ramakrishna Mission as a young boy, the star visits the Himalayas at least once a year for pilgrimage. He also meditates every day.
For his birthday, the superstar chose to keep a low profile and spent it with close friends and family by renewing wedding vows with his wife, Latha, whom he’s been married for close to 30 years.
His 60th year brought him many highs, both professional and personal. His mega-budget film ‘Enthiran (Robot)’, which was released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu in October, was the highest grossing Indian film this year. His daughter Aishwarya, who is married to actor Dhanush, recently gave birth to a second child while his other daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth got married to businessman Ashwin Kumar.
Age is absolutely not a factor for the talented performer and family man. Happy Birthday Rajinikanth, many more happy returns of the day!