Rajinikanth (Tamil: ரஜினிகாந்த், Kannada: ರಜನೀಕಾಂತ್, Marathi : रजनीकांत, Telugu: రజినీకాంత్), one of the most influential and bankable film stars in the Indian movie industry and the person who is synonymous with the title superstar, now features in an English textbook brought out by the Oxford University Press for class VI students!
Rajinikanth, a.k.a. Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, a.k.a. the superstar . . .
Rajinikanth was born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad on December 12, 1949. His mother tongue is Marathi, but he worked in Bengaluru, the capital of the state of Karnataka as a bus conductor. He learnt acting and the Tamil language before doing supporting roles in Tamil films. Early in his career, he concentrated on roles that called for acting skills but after he achieved superstardom, he was offered roles in films which marketed Superstar Rajinikanth as their USP. Apart from Tamil, Rajinikanth has acted in 173 movies, including Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi and Bengali movies. He has also acted in a Hollywood film, Bloodstone.
Despite the fact that he comes from a modest background, he has not allowed fame and money to affect him. He retains his characteristic humility in real life. He is known for his philanthropic activities and his concern for those who are less fortunate in life. Infact, the main reason for his unbelievable popularity, apart from his unique acting style and punch dialogues, is the fact that he strongly identifies himself with the working class. His biggest blockbusters have been films in which he has played the role of a man from the working class who makes it big in life but never looks down upon the poor but fights for their rights. He is portrayed as a hero who strongly opposes the concepts that keep people oppressed. He is portrayed as a fighter who fights the concepts of feudalism, “free market capitalism”, exploitation, oppression, crime, corruption, backwardness and savagery in most of his films as these concepts and ideas always flock together and are the bane of any society or country and are the enemy of humanity and civilisation as well. Rajinikanth also avoids product endorsements and has strongly criticised alcoholism and drug abuse in many of his films. He has also given up the practice of smoking in reel life, to act as a role model for the youth.
Rajinikanth has always played the roles of deeply patriotic working class citizens, like in this movie, where he plays a bus conductor, which he actually was in real life before becoming an actor and a superstar . . .
Rajinikanth’s popularity knows no boundaries. He has fans all over the world and they are not just people of Indian origin. He is quite popular in South Africa and parts of South-East Asia but is very popular with the Japanese, especially with the youth. Take a look at this dedicated Japanese fan site for Rajinikanth.
Here is a video from his last blockbuster, Sivaji . . .
If the video does not load, you can watch it here.
I have always been a fan of the தலைவர் (thalaivar-boss or leader) because of his humility and civilised nature in real life. There was this Tamil movie song about him:
Superstar yaarunnu kaetta, chinna kuzhanthaiyum sollum . . . which means If you wonder who the superstar is, even a child will tell you . . .
Now, with these English textbooks from Oxford University Press, those lines are all set to become a reality! 🙂