Rajnikanth, daughter Soundarya Rajnikanth (R).
Actor Rajnikanth speaks during a media conference about the film "Kochadaiyaan", directed by his daughter Soundarya (R), London.Reuters
Actor Rajnikanth speaks during a media conference about the film
Actor Rajnikanth speaks during a media conference about the film "Kochadaiyaan", directed by his daughter Soundarya (R), London.

"There are heroes. There are superheroes. But there is only one - Rajinikanth," states the teaser of the superstar's upcoming film "Kochadaiiyaan."  

The teaser of Rajinikanth's much-awaited film "Kochadaiiyaan" was finally released on 9 September and has already received over one million viewe. The actor is loved and worshiped by millions across the country and overseas. Despite earning worldwide fame, he is a man of simplicity.   

Shivaji Rao Gaekwad became Rajnikanth after he debuted in veteran director K. Balachander's Tamil film "Apoorva Raagangal" (Rare Melodies), co-starring Kamal Haasan, Srividya and Jayaudha. Balachander, whom the superstar considers as a mentor, renamed Shivaji as Rajinikanth.   

"I did not change his name (Sivaji Rao Gaekwad) for the sake of it. There was already a giant called Sivaji at that time and so, I wanted to change this young man's name. For the new name, I chose Rajinikanth, a character from my own film, Major Chandrakanth," Balachander was quoted as saying by a news daily.

Rajinikanth, popular for his larger-than-life image, was born on 12 December, 1950, in Bangalore, to police constable Ramoji Rao Gaikwad and Jijabai, who passed away when he was just nine years old.

Rajinikanth, who is currently the highest paid actor in Asia after Jakie Chan, had to live in poverty during his childhood. He studied in a Kannada medium school, Government Model Primary School, at Gavipuram, and landed up in several odd jobs that required him being a coolie or working as a peon in a government office.

Before being part of Kannada stage plays, Rajinikanth worked in the Bangalore Transport Service as a bus conductor. Topi Muniappa, Kannada playwright and director, offered him a small role in his mythological play which was the beginning of the superstar's journey.

Financially supported and suggested by his friend Raj Bahadur, Rajinikanth was finally motivated to join the Madras Film Institute and eventually gained the attention of veteran director Balachander.  

Film historian Mohan Raman spoke about Rajinikanth's meteoric rise from common man to superstar, at an event last month as part of the Chennai Heritage Talk in ITC Grand Chola, Chennai.

"His first job was as an office peon. He also tried out several other jobs, before he became a conductor," Mohan was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

A couple of years after joining Madras Film Institute, Shivaji debuted as Rajinikanth in 1975 and went on to become a living legend.

Balachander offered Rajinikanth a small role, but soon the actor became popular with his roles as a villain. The superstar, well-known for his unique style of delivering dialogues and of having a distinct body language and style, took another step ahead from the anti-hero role to an action hero. During that time, Rajinikanth mastered the art of playing anti-hero roles, and he did full justice to every role that he was offered.

Besides emerging as the most popular hero in South India, Rajinikanth's popularity went beyond the regional film industry. His films were dubbed in several other languages including Hindi. The only other Indian actor apart from him whose films were popular across India and the rest of Asia was Rajesh Kahanna in 1969-87.

Rajinikanth has also acted in a Bengali film called "Bhagya Debata" which was released in 1995. The megastar, who will turn 63 this December, has more than 150 films to his credit, in a career that spans 38 years.

His 1998 Tamil film "Muthu" directed by KS Ravikumar and produced by K Balanchander became the first Tamil film to be dubbed in Japanese. Since then, Rajinikanth is known to have massive fan following in Japan.

The film earned $1.6 million in Japan, setting a record. Newsweek, an America-based magazine operating in Japan, commented that "Rajinikanth, the male lead in "Muthu" and "Yajaman," has supplanted Leonardo DiCaprio as Japan's trendiest heartthrob," in an article published a year after the release of the film.

The actor has starred in several films and performed varied roles - from villain to hero and comedian. He has been part of several hit films and some of them are memorable including "16 Vayadhinile", "Anbulla Rajinikanth" (actor appeared his self), "Sri Raghavendra", "Baasha", "Padayyappa", "Chandramukhi", "Sivaji" and "Enthiran" (Robot).

The superstar was paid ₹ 26 crore ($4m) for his role in the 2007 release "Sivaji", making him the highest paid actor in Asia.  

However, after the grand success of his 2010 blockbuster "Robot" ("Enthiran") Rajinikanth went on to become one of the most popular actors across the globe. In the film, he appeared in dual roles - a scientist and a robot. The film also starred Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Rajinikanth has received several awards including Filmfare. He was honoured with Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, in 2000 by the government of India.

The actor was also named as the most influential persons in South Asia by Asiaweek. 

The megastar is the only actor in the country whose story, "From Bus Conductor to Superstar", has been included in a lesson for the CBSE syllabus under the category 'Dignity of Work'.

Also, there are several texts widely circulated across the nation in the name of Rajinifact and Rajinikanth Jokes - an anecdote of exaggerating his larger-than-life image.

The superstar will next be seen in "Kochadaiyaan", an epic drama directed by his daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth.

In "Kochadaiyaan", Rajinikanth will once again be seen playing a double role - father and son. The film will also have Deepika Padukone, Aadhi, Jackie Shroff, Nassar and Shobana in supporting roles. 

The upcoming film is considered to be the first Indian film to use 3D motion capturing technology in the likes of Hollywood films like "Tin Tin" and "Avatar". The film is expected to be released in several regional languages, including Telegu, Hindi and Malayalam. The film may also be dubbed in foreign languages including Japanese.

Although there are mixed reactions from some fans about his upcoming film, many are eagerly waiting to see their demi-god appear on the big screen once again.

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