Rajinikanth was born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad in a Maratha family in Karnataka, India. His ancestors are from the village of NachiKuppam in Krishnagiri district, Tamil Nadu. He was the fourth child of his parents, Jijabai and Ramojirao Gaekwad, a police constable. He lost his mother at the age of eight. He did his schooling at the Acharya Paathshala in Basavanagudi, Bangalore and then at the Vivekananda Balaka Sangha.
Rajinikanth struggled a lot during his early age because of his family's low income. Although his mother-tongue is Marathi, he has not acted in any Marathi films yet.
He worked with various jobs in Bangalore. He also attended a theatre for stage plays. Before starting his career in the film industry, he used to practice stunts at the Rama Hanuman Temple at a hill near his house. He then primarily worked as a bus conductor for the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation in Bangalore. It was during the time that he nurtured his acting interests by performing in various stage plays.
He married Latha Parthasarathy, sister of actor Y. G. Mahendran's wife, on February 26, 1981, at the age of 31 in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh and they have two daughters named Aishwarya Rajinikanth and Soundarya Rajinikanth. Latha currently runs a school named The Ashram. His elder daughter Aishwarya Rajinikanth married actor Dhanush on November 18. His second daughter, Soundarya Rajinikanth, works in the film industry as a director, producer and graphic designer.
He joined the Madras Film institute in 1973 with the help of his friend Raj Bahadur, a fellow bus driver and completed a basic course in acting. In the film institute he was helped by his Vice Principal A. Prabhakaran.
Rajinikanth has acted in a total 190 movies, which includes Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, English and Bengali films. Rajinikanth made a foray into Bollywood with Andha Kanoon but did not make as much of an impact as he had in the south. He still appeared a few films in Hindi, such as Chaalbaaz with Sridevi, Uttar Dakshan, Geraftaar and Hum. He made his Hollywood debut with the movie Bloodstone in 1988 with much fanfare in India at the time of its release. However, the movie failed in the United States.
He also made brief stints in German- and Japanese film industries. His film Muthu was dubbed into Japanese and later turned out to become a major hit in the country, ultimately creating a huge Japanese fan-following for Rajni. In 2005, his film Chandramukhi was dubbed in German and released in all German-speaking nations.
Rajinikanth's first film was in Tamil cinema, where he was initially cast in supporting roles, debuting as a cancer patient in Apoorva Raagangal in 1975. The film was directed by K. Balachander, who is constantly referred to by Rajinikanth as his own guru or mentor. The following year, Rajinikanth acted in his first Kannada film, Katha Sangama, directed by Puttanna Kanagal. Though Rajinikanth refers to director K. Balachander as his "guru" or mentor, it was director S. P. Muthuraman who actually revamped Rajinikanth’s image entirely.
Muthuraman first experimented with him in a positive role in Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri (1977), as a villain in the first half and a do-gooder in the second, accepting a woman with a child abandoned by her lover. Around this time Mullum Malarum (1978), directed by J. Mahendran, established Rajinikanth in the Tamil film arena.
The success of Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri prompted Muthuraman to make a mushy melodrama with Rajinikanth as a hero sacrificing everything for his siblings in Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai (1979). These films were the turning points in Rajinikanth’s career — he changed from an actor who merely enthralled the audiences, to one who could also make them cry.
The acceptance of Rajinikanth sans his mannerisms proved he had at last become a "star" from a "common actor." His film roles were mainly as a villain during the period 1975 to 1977, frequently with Kamal Haasan as the hero, in movies like 16 Vayadhinilae, Moondru Mudichu and Avargal.
During this phase of his career when he was reaching dazzling heights, Rajinikanth abruptly chose to quit acting,but was coaxed back. He started again with Billa, which was then remaked as a blockbuster bollywood movie Don. With its phenomenal success he was accepted as a full-fledged hero. Billa was followed by a row of hits like Murattukaalai, Pokkiri Raja, Thanikattu Raja, Naan Mahaan Alla, Pudukavithai and Moondru Mugam. K. Balachander’s first home production, Netrikan proved to be yet another milestone in Rajini’s career.
He even acted as himself alongside Meena, who was a child actor then, in the movie Anbulla Rajinikanth (1984). More box-office hits dominated the 80's with Padikkathavan, Thee, Velaikaran, Dharmathin Thalaivan, Mr. Bharath, and Maaveeran. In his 100th movie, Sri Raghavendra, he played the Hindu saint Raghavendra Swami.
The vast majority of his movies released during the nineties were extremely successful, notably Thalapathy, Mannan, Annamalai, Uzhaippali, Veera, Baasha, Muthu,, Arunachalam and Padayappa. Rajinikanth wrote his first screenplay and acted in the film Valli (1993)which failed at box office.
His cult classic Baasha, released in 1995, went on to become a massive blockbuster and is routinely touted by his fans and critics alike as the movie which elevated him from being just another very popular actor with loads of charisma to an almost demigod status in the eyes of the masses. His film Muthu was the first Tamil film to be dubbed into Japanese as Muthu: The Dancing Maharajah and became very popular in Japan.
Rajinikanth's 150th film, Padayappa, directed by K. S. Ravikumar, undoubtedly turned out to be the largest blockbuster in his career. Finally, after more than a three year sabbatical from cinema, at 52 years of age, he starred in his home production, Baba, which released on August 15, 2002 amidst much fanfare and extreme hype. The film failed miserably to meet the expectations due to a very weak screenplay, which Rajinikanth himself had written, his second stint at screenplay writing after Valli.
Although the film grossed enough to cover its budget, it was viewed as a tremendous loss when compared to his previous box office successes throughout his career. It fell short of market expectations and the high bids reportedly translated to heavy losses for the distributors. Rajinikanth himself repaid the losses incurred by the distributors. Rajinikanth reported that he was going to retire from acting, hence he later took part in other political activities.
After the Baba debacle, Rajinikanth mulled over numerous scripts with many directors, including K.S. Ravikumar, and finally chose to act in director P. Vasu's Tamil remake of Manichithrathazhu, Chandramukhi. In essence, many viewed Chandramukhi as Rajinikanth's comeback film, his make or break movie and in the end, when it was released on April 14, 2005, it went on to create new box office records and smashed his own previous records and once and for all removed any doubt within the industry with regards to Rajinikanth's box office clout and incomparable appeal to the masses.
Just after Chandramukhi release, it was reported that AVM Productions were to produce a film directed by S. Shankar starring Rajinikanth, the largest collaboration yet for a Tamil film. The film was titled Sivaji: The Boss and released on June 15, 2007 after two years of filming and meticulous production.
With massive international anticipation, it subsequently went on to become a major blockbuster, being ranked among other major Bollywood and Hollywood releases of the year. Sivaji became the first Tamil movie to be charted as one of the top-ten best films of United Kingdom and South Africa box-offices upon release.
Following Sivaji, Rajinikanth worked with P. Vasu again for Kuselan, a remake of the Malayalam film Kadha Parayumbol, in which Rajinikanth was given only a cameo role but the movie did very poor run in box office. Rajinikanth worked again with Sivaji director Shankar for the science fiction film, Enthiran. The film was released worldwide in 2010 as the costliest Indian film ever made with a budget of Indian Rupee 162 crores (US $36 million), ultimately becoming the highest-grossing film in India of its time.
During the course of the production for Sivaji, Ocher Studios, the animation company of Rajinikanth's daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth, in association with Adlabs announced their intention of producing a CGI animation film starring an animated version of Rajinikanth.
He will be lending his voice to the lead character (based on his likeness) and the project is titled Sultan: The Warrior and later its named as Hara, it will be directed by his daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth with music provided by A. R. Rahman. Rajinikanth's venture following Enthiran was revealed in January 2010 as Rana, a period film to be produced by his daughter and directed by K. S. Ravikumar.
Rana movie pooja held on 29th April at AVM Studios, Chennai. Rajinikanth has penned the Story. Dialogues and Direction of “Rana” is done by K.S.Ravikumar. Deepika Padukone has been offered the heroine role in Rana.
Later, The actor suffered from exhaustion on April 29, the first day of the shoot of his latest venture 'Raana' and was admitted to the Isabel Hospital in Chennai. He was discharged the same day only to be readmitted on May 4 for allergic bronchitis and viral fever. He has returned from Hospital after he was kept at the hospital for a week.
He was then admitted to the Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre on May 13 for respiratory infection and gastrointestinal problems. Finally, on may 28 he was admitted to the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre in Singapore and was discharged after a complete recovery. Rajinikanth returns to chennai on July 13, 2011 & he will be on compelete rest for an month. From September, he will start working on his latest project RANA.
Rajinikanth received several awards from Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, Filmfare Awards, Cinema Express, and Filmfans Association for his on-screen performances and off-screen contributions in writing and producing.
Despite several failed attempts to restart Rana upon his return, Rajinikanth reprised his Enthiran character, Chitti, in the Bollywood science-fiction film Ra.One (2011) in a guest appearance.
In November 2011, it was decided that Rana would be shelved to make way for a new project with Rajinikanth, titled Kochadaiiyaan. The motion capture film, which is the first of its kind in India, was released in 2014 to positive reviews.
Kochadaiiyaan, and the 3D release of Sivaji in 2012, made Rajinikanth the first Indian actor to have appeared in four different forms of cinema: black-and-white, colour, 3D and motion capture.
Following the completion of Kochadaiiyaan, Rajinikanth began work in Ravikumar's next directorial venture, titled Lingaa alongside Anushka Shetty and Sonakshi Sinha. The film was released on 12 December 2014, coinciding with his birthday,and received mixed reviews from critics.
Rajinikanth's next film, a mob film titled Kabali, was confirmed in May 2015 to be directed by Pa. Ranjith and produced by S. Thanu.