Rajinikanth was born to Jijabai and Ramoji Rao Gaikwad, a Maharashtrian couple living in Bangalore, and was named Shivaji Rao Gaikwad. He is the youngest of four siblings.
His mother died when Rajini was five and the family went through tough times. As a young man, Rajinikanth did many odd jobs, including that of a coolie. He was working as a bus conductor before he made it big in the film industry.
Rajinikanth made his debut in the Tamil film industry with Balachander’s Apoorva Raagangal, which also starred Kamal Haasan and Srividya. The first-ever movie frame he appeared in carried an ominous subtitle ‘Abaswaram’.
After playing several negative roles and characters with grey shades, his first positive role was in S P Muthuraman’s Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri. After this, he collaborated with director Muthuraman in 25 movies.
Rajinikanth was noticed in a Kannada play at the Film Institute by director K Balachander. ‘Learn Tamil,’ the director told Rajini before leaving.
T Rama Rao’s Andha Kanoon was Rajinikanth’s first Bollywood film. It also starred Hema Malini and Reena Roy, and Amitabh Bachchan had a special extended guest appearance.
In 1988, Rajinikanth made an appearance in the English action adventure Bloodstone.
Rajinikanth’s film Raaja Chinna Roja was the first Tamil film that included animation in the movie.
The first movie that Rajinikanth wrote the screenplay for was Valli. He did a guest role in the film as well.
K S Ravikumar’s Muthu, which starred Rajinikanth, was the first Tamil film to be dubbed and released in Japan.
Besides starring in Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu films, Rajinikanth also starred in a Bengali film, Bhagya Debata.
Before and after the release of Enthiran, Rajinikanth jokes started circulating on the internet. They were inspired by the popular Chuck Norris jokes and also kicked off an iPad application called Rib-tickling Rajini Riot.