Rajinikanth (Tamil: ரஜினிகாந்த்; born 12 December 1950 as Shivaji Rao Gaikwad) is an Indian film actor, media personality, and cultural icon. He made his debut as an actor in the National Film Award-winning motion picture Apoorva Raagangal (1975), directed by K. Balachander, whom the actor considers his mentor.
After a brief phase of portraying antagonistic characters in Tamil films, he gradually rose to become an established film actor. Within a few years of his career, he was claimed to be the superstar of Tamil cinema and has since continued to hold a matinee idol status in the popular culture of India. His mannerisms and stylized delivery of dialogue in films contribute to his mass popularity and appeal. While working in other regional film industries of India, he also appeared in the cinemas of other nations, including in that of the United States. After being paid 26 crore (US$5.9 million) for his role in Sivaji (2007), he became the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan. Other than acting, Rajinikanth also worked as a producer and screenwriter. Apart from his film career, he is also a philanthropist, spiritualist and serves as an influence in Dravidian politics.
He was bestowed the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, in the year 2000 for his contribution to Indian cinema. He was named one of the most influential persons in South Asia by Asiaweek. He was also named by Forbes India as the most influential Indian of the year 2010.
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