The phenom, phenomenon, and colossal of Tamil Cinema, superstar Rajnikanth, full of charisma and style is a sensation all across India and even Asia.
It is ironic that Rajnikanth the actor, who is the heartthrob of the nation today started his cinematic career with many villainous roles. His transformation and wide acceptance as a hero, then to a superstar, and ultimately as the Thalaiva of Tamil Cinema is nothing less than a fairy tale. The action-packed fight sequences, those hero entry Tamil songs picturised on him, or dialogue delivery that has an uplifting effect on fans has made him popular all over the world.
Usually, when his movies are released, it is nothing less than a celebration for the die-hard Rajni fans. “Whistle, stomp and cheer, Rajnikanth is here!” is the only thing you can hear all along.
Some find all of these a bit over the top and bizarre, but it is what it is. The larger than life character is an essential part of Rajnikanth songs and movies and effusive fandom that goes with it.
What’s more surreal is his personal life and his journey of becoming a superstar.
Born in the year 1950 to a Marathi family, his real name was Shivaji Rao, named after the warrior ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji. With a humble family background, he took some odd jobs initially. After a time of struggle, he got a job as a bus conductor in Bangalore Transport Service – BTS. Finally, he realized acting is his calling and he joined Madras Film Institute in 1973.
It was while acting in a play at the institute that noted film-maker, K. Balachander who advised him to learn Tamil first. And he did learn the language. In 1975, he got his first break in the movie ‘Apoorva Raagangal’ and played many antagonist roles in movies like Avaragal -1977, Moondru Mudichu -1976. As many in the film industry put it, he was exceptional.
In 1978, he got his first chance to become a solo hero in the movie – Bairavi. With this movie, the tag of the superstar was added to his name. Then Kali – 1978 & Billa – 1980 happened which once and for all established him as a brilliant actor and his acting prowess was appreciated by the whole film industry.
It was the masterpiece from Mani Ratnam – Thalapathi – a crime drama in 1990 what turned an excellent actor Rajnikanth to Thailava Rajnikanth. It carved out an altogether different path for him. A certain sense of style caught the attention of people more than acting and they loved it. His natural charisma helped a lot. Since then, his fans wanted to see their superstar in the same avatar. Subsequent hits like Baasha -1995, and Padayappa-1999 with Sivaji Ganesan followed and he became an inescapable phenomenon.
Critics often disregard the melodrama and hyperbolic acting he has done in his movies. But those who question his acting skills need only see some of the movies like Thillu Millu – 1981, the remake of Hindi movie Golmaal, where his comic timing was impeccable, Mullum Malarum – 1978 which displayed his romantic side, and ‘Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai‘ – a sad story. This indeed showed his versatility as an actor.
Either you can be a people’s actor and continue giving performances that give insurmountable joy to your large number of fans. Or else, you can experiment and show your versatility as an actor. Rajnikanth took the first route.
In 1983, he debuted in Hindi cinema with the movie – Andha Kanoon along with Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan. It was one of the highest-grossing movies of the year then. He has also acted in Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, English, and Bengali films.
The superstar’s allure is not limited. His legion of fans go far and beyond India to countries like Japan where people love his flamboyant style of acting and enchanting dialogues.
Tamil cinema always has hero entry songs. The fast-paced hits that introduce the star in the movie. One only need to see and listen to Rajnikanth songs to experience the cult following of his fans. Most of the Rajnikanth Tamil songs were sung by the legendary singer, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam.
Some of his greatest hits include My Name is Billa – Billa, Pothuvaga En Manasu – Murattukkaalai, Raagangal Pathinaaru – Thillu Mullu , Vizhiyile Malarnthathu – Bhuvana Oru Kelvi Kuri, Aagaya Gangai – Dharma Yuddham, Thangangale Thambigale – Thillu Mullu.
Find all these memorable Rajnikanth songs in Saregama Carvaan Tamil.
Another fascinating thing about superstar Rajnikanth is that he is a humble and polite human as per the people who know him closely.
We wish the superstar Rajnikanth a very happy 69th birthday. May you continue to entertain us without end.