His is typically the story that adorns the adage- From rags to riches. Rajinikanth, then known as Sivaji Rao began his service as a ticket collector in a local shuttle in Bangalore. But it is easy to envision the fact that though he handled a nondescript job, young Sivaji must have cast his innate charisma on a majority of the commuters in his bus line.
Apparently, when he was unearthed by the legendary K.Balachander and rechristened as Rajinikanth, it was the same magnetism that made an impression in the experienced director’s mind. Moonru Mugam was Rajni’s debut. Incidentally, an action-entertainer, the film took Rajini to great heights. Most of Rajni’s initial films happened to be double-hero starrers. He paired up with Kamal Haasan in Aval Oru Thodargadhai, Moonru Mudichu, Aboorva Raagangal.
However, since the actor played his part to perfection, his remarkable style and heroism began to attract the masses. His stunts, his body language, his dialogue delivery, even his romantics captured all kinds of viewers. Audiences cheered and screamed in delight whenever their favourite actor appeared on screen. And, all the appreciation raised his star-status. From ‘Style Mannan’, he became the invincible Superstar. As a matter of fact, till date, no performer has achieved such an iconic status in the industry. Such was the audiences’ fondness for the actor and his rise was truly spectacular. All Rajni films ran to packed houses, his film releases were celebrated as major events, his cut-outs were showered with milk and honey and adorned with a hefty garland strings comprising lovely and exotic flowers.
At the centre of all the fanfare and celebration stood Rajni the modest individual. Though he acknowledged the popularity and his fans’ adoration and chose scripts and designed his characters to primarily suit their tastes and expectations, the Superstar never altered his personality. An absolute professional at heart and spirit, he continued to remain as the same simpleton Sivaji. He remained approachable for his fans and prodded them to think for their own good yet continued to guide them in his own way. Disciplining and prompting them to progress in the right direction and never letting them falter, Rajni continues to be their mentor and godfather.
Following the magnum opus Sivaji directed by Shankar, Kuselan, a remake of the Malayalam film Katha Parayumbol scripted by his dear friend Srinivasan was Rajini’s most recent release. Needless to say, the responses to both the films prove the fact that still he is the ‘reigning raja’ of Kollywood. Even actors who are stars in other industries hold great appeal and reverence for Rajini. In fact, his powerful appeal and strong impressions go beyond just movies. His comments and statements in specific contexts have knocked rulers off their thrones, influenced leaders’ perspectives and toppled governments in the state.
Rajni’s family has always been one far removed from all the glitz and glamour. Rajni’s elder daughter Aishwarya is married to Dhanush, another hero in Kollywood; the couple have a one-year-old son named Yatra. His second girl Soundarya is into graphics and designing. She has set up her own company Ocher Studios in Chennai. Soundarya’s very first project is an animation movie Sultan which will feature the Superstar in the animates form. While Soundarya worked on the framework of Sultan’s hero, the Superstar participated in the shoot and performed taking his daughter’s directions.
Endhiran, with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is Rajni’s next. So many news and rumours about the movie and Rajni’s role fill the industry grapevine. Yet, when it releases, it will be another magnificent production in Rajni-Shankar combo. And at times like these, it feels so good just to discern the fact that the next Superstar movie will be here in a year to entertain and fascinate his diehard audiences and fans as it has for years till now.
Long live Rajni!