Rajnikanth: The man, the hero, the superstar

Bollywood 28/09/2007

He debuted as a villain, went on to become an anti-hero and finally ended up as a showbiz supernova: a superstar in every right. The Periya Thaliavar of Tamil filmdom has had the people of Tamil Nadu sway to his histrionics, characteristic mannerisms and punch dialogues for years (he is known as “Style Mannan” for his screen presence). With every movie he does, he just seems to get bigger and better, so much so that the people of Tamil Nadu in recognition to his contribution to Tamil cinema have unanimously crowned him “Superstar.”

Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, he is ‘Rajnikant,’ to the common man. Rajnikant walked up the ladder of success in life and films methodically. Born on 12 December 1949, to a lower middle class conservative Maharashtrian family in Bangalore, Shivaji Rao Gaekwad worked as a conductor with the Karnataka Road Transport Corporation before he discovered his hidden talent for acting. And since then, there was no looking back. With perseverance and strong will he managed to sail through the many vicissitudes in life to arrive at what he is today.

Rajnikant joined the Madras Film Institute where he learnt his first lessons in acting. It was here that he was noticed by K.Balachander, his mentor. Balachander who had a knack for sporting talent, gave Rajnikanth his first break in the movie ‘Apoorva Raagangal.’ It was an inconsequential 15-minute screen presence but he did not lose hope.

It was with ‘Moondru Mudichu’ that he came to the spotlight. ‘Moondru Mudichu’ defines many of his firsts: he plays a character with negative shades, charms us with his famous ‘cigarette flip,’ and sweeps us off his feet with his chaste style of dialogue delivery and punch lines. The film bombed at the box office, but the star Rajnikant was born and people started to sit up and take notice of him.

Producers went all out to capitalise on this new “wonder” called Rajnikant, and a string of films projecting him as an anti-hero, with all his stylish mannerisms in full swing, were released in quick succession.

‘Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri’ first saw him in a positive role. Essaying the role with his usual style, he established himself as a hero able to do varied roles; this also earned him a fan base from all walks of life. What followed then was a string of blockbusters, the likes of ‘Pokkiri Raja’, ‘Thanikkattu Raja’, Naan Mahaan Alla’, ‘Moondru Mugham’ and ‘Nettrikkam’.

Rajnikanth became a phenomenon. He was the numero uno who could decide the roles he wanted to play. Increasingly, he chose roles portraying people from various walks of life and films that also held a social message. This way he struck a chord with his viewers who regarded him as one of their own. He put to shame the greatest superstars of Indian cinema and his popularity soared. It came to such a point where he could influence electoral results in Tamil Nadu. But he was careful enough not to become an MGR in the making.

‘Sivaji’ is the superstar’s hundredth Tamil film. It is his ninth movie under the banner of AVM Productions. The film is directed by Shankar and produced by M. Saravanan and M.S. Guhan of AVM Productions. The film also stars Shriya Saran, Suman, Prakash Raj, Vivek, Raghuvaran, Manivannan and Nayantara.The music has been composed by the mastero A.R.Rahman.

The hype and hysteria surrounding the release of his latest blockbuster ‘Sivaji-The Boss’ has been the talk of the town. His fans have been waiting in anticipation for two years for the release of the movie, ‘Chandramukhi’ being his last outing at the box-office.

According to media reports, Sivaji premiers at Seattle, US, on June 14. It will also be released in Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia and will hit Indian screens on June 15. The Tamil Nadu government is expected to give it the tax benefit. ‘Sivaji’ will be released with approximately 400 Tamil and 300 Telugu digital prints worldwide.

The trailers and movie clips have created interest among the audience and they are all set to lap up what ‘Superstar’ Rajnikanth has to offer when ‘Sivaji’ hits the box office this weekend.

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