Shivaji Rao Gaekwad (born 12 December 1950), known by his mononymous stage name Rajinikanth, is an Indian film actor and politician who works primarily in Tamil cinema. He began acting in plays while working in the Bangalore Transport Service as a bus conductor. In 1973, he joined the Madras Film Institute to pursue a diploma in acting. Following his debut in K. Balachander‘s Tamildrama Apoorva Raagangal (1975), his acting career commenced with a brief phase of portraying antagonistic characters in Tamil films.
After earning ₹26 crore (equivalent to ₹56 crore or US$7.8 million in 2017) for his role in Sivaji (2007), he was the highest-paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan at the time. While working in other regional film industries of India, Rajinikanth has also appeared in the cinemas of other nations, including the American film Bloodstone (1988). As of 2018, Rajinikanth has won six Tamil Nadu State Film Awards—four Best Actor Awards and two Special Awards for Best Actor—and a Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award. In addition to acting, he has 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.
The Government of India has honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016 for his contributions to the arts. At the 45th International Film Festival of India (2014), he was conferred with the “Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year”.