An optimistic youngster from Maharashtra once entered the Dravidian lands of Tamil Nadu with a hope to get some work in any films. One of the finest directors of the era, K Balachandar spotted him and gave him a chance to work in one of his films in a negative role. Slowly, his hard work gave him more and more chances to play lead roles and that youngster never really looked back.
But one thing that separates that youngster from other actors is the aura, fan base and following he created for himself. Well, few of you must have realised that the person I’m talking about is none other than the legend, “The Thalaiva”, the superstar of South Indian cinema, Rajinikanth.
Celebrating his legendary career, let’s take a look at 10 facts about the great man, which very few knew.
1) Rajinikanth’s original name is Shivaji Rao Gaikwad and he hails from Maharashtra. He also worked temporarily as a bus conductor in Karnataka in his early days before his film career commenced. He was the fourth and the youngest of all his siblings.
2) Rajnikanth’s career as an actor started when he began playing some characters in plays in Karnataka. His character as Duryodhana received a great response from the crowd and made him popular.
3) Legendary director K Balachander suggested Shivaji Rao should change his name so that audience doesn’t get confused between him and the legendary Shivaji Ganesan. Hence, he decided to keep his screen name as Rajinikanth, which was a character played by Shivaji Ganesan in one of his super hit films of those days.
4) Balachander’s “Apoorva Raagangal” was Rajinikanth’s first appearance on the silver screen. This film also included another immortal of the film industry, Kamal Hasan, who was also trying to make his mark in the fraternity.
5) Primarily, Rajinikanth was found playing a lot of negative and grey characters and it took him some time to get a chance as a lead hero. His first film as a lead hero came under the direction of SP Muthuraman. The name of the film was “Oru Kelvikuri”.
6) One of the biggest and first commercial success for Rajinikanth came from the film “Billa” and interestingly, this was a remake of the superhit Amitabh Bachchan starer “Don”. From then on, there was no looking back as far as Rajni was concerned.
7) Rajinikanth’s first Bollywood film was “Andha Kanoon”, which also included some big names like Hema Malini and Reena Roy, including a cameo from the biggest superstar of that generation, Amitabh Bachchan.
8) Mani Ratnam is one of the greatest directors in the history of Indian cinema and his first and only film with Rajinikanth is something which people still cherish. “Thalapathi”, one of the biggest superhits in Rajni’s career, also included another south Indian cinema legend Mammooty. This was also the only Rajni film which received a U/A certificate.
9) KS Ravikumar’s super hit film Muthu was one of the finest Rajni performances of his iconic and glittering career. This film holds a unique record of being the first ever film to be dubbed and released in Japan.
10) Arguably the biggest hit film in South Indian cinema during the 1990s, Padayappa released in 1995 and this film is still rated as one of the most breathtaking films in Indian Cinema.
11) He was paid 8.6 million dollars for the movie Sivaji and became the second highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan. Other than being a highly paid superstar, Rajinikanth is also revered for his simplicity and humanity. He decided to repay the amount he charged for the film “Baba”, which proved to be a disaster at the Box office.