FEATURES/Person of the Year '10 | Dec 22, 2010 | 69349 views

Rajinikanth: Who Really Is the Super Star?

Two decades after he opted out of an indifferent run in Hindi films, Rajinikanth conquered Bollywood in his own way in 2010. The Robot set the box office on fire, reaffirming his super star status

It was sheer chance that he even got thus far. He was noticed in a Kannada play at the Film Institute in Chennai, by none other than director K. Balachander. “Learn Tamil,” the director told Rajini before leaving. And there has not been a better career advice in Chennai’s film industry before or after.

The next time Rajinikanth was in Bangalore, he insisted Bahadur speak to him only in Tamil. “He picked up the language very fast,” his friend remembers.

Balachander offered him a small role in Apoorva Raagangal (1975), which had Kamal Hassan in the lead. But few failed to notice the dark man with a mop of hair, showing such attitude in such few seconds. Director S.P. Muthuraman, who watched the movie, was impressed. Later, when he was looking for an actor to play a small part in his movie, he remembered Rajinikanth. “When I saw him walking towards me, I changed my mind. He had that kind of presence. I didn’t want to give him a small role. I wanted to see him as a hero in my next movie,” he says.

But Muthuraman’s Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri (1977) turned out to be an exception for a while. Rajinikanth’s unconventional, devil-may-care looks meant he mostly got to play the villain, which he did with gusto.

The origins of ‘punch dialogues’, for which he became so famous, can be traced to his days as a villain. In 16 Vayathinile (1977), he would do a mean thing and check with his friends “Idhu eppadi irukku?” The same punch line made a comeback in another Rajini movie years later. “Howeezzit?”

For Bahadur, who has watched every one of Rajini’s movies, nothing can equal Badshaa. In it, Rajini plays an autorickshaw driver — helpful, devoted to family, averse to violence. But he has a past: He had been a feared don in Bombay. But history and enemies catch up with him, transforming his character from a peaceful guy to an action hero, a piece of dynamite that punches with the weight of a locomotive.

One of the first things Rajinikanth did on that Bangalore trip in November was to ask for his favourite non-vegetarian food prepared at Bahadur’s place. He came and ate with everyone. “There is no need for him to do that. He can afford to have food in a five star hotel every day. He is so big. He need not talk to me. He need not call me his friend. But he does,” Bahadur says, his voice choking for a moment.

“A couple of years ago, we went on a trip. That day happened to be my birthday. Rajinikanth threw me a surprise party. He said, ‘The world might want to celebrate my birthday. But I will celebrate yours’.”

In fact, there are things that Rajinikanth envies about Bahadur. “Oh, he is envious of my hair. When I seem to be taking special care of it, he would ruffle it and say, ‘What, are you showing off?’.”

Bahadur is Rajinikanth’s only hope of living the ordinary life he once did. “He was once a poor man. Very poor. He used to carry luggage on his shoulders for 50 paise. He has struggled a lot. He doesn’t want to forget that.”

This article appeared in the Forbes India magazine issue of 31 December, 2010
Post Your Comment
Email Address
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated
Comments (29)
Chandra V Pakala Dec 11, 2014
I think one shouldn't compare with one another (Ex : Rajni Sir, Amitabh Sir ...N). Everyone is 'unique' in there own style.

But if it comes to 'Man of the Masses', I think it will be 'Rajni Sir', simple reason, even today he is 'very simple, very modest and helps truly the masses (poorest) on the streets'. That's just my own opinion
Grh Premkumar Sep 2, 2014
I am Proud to be a die hard fan of superstar,Thalaivar RAJINI.Nearly 34 Years .HIs life and his carrier inspired me alot. he is not an ordinary actor Heis more than any bodyelse. He Lives What His innervoice tells Simply he is great
Biswajit Mondal(mv 79) Jul 11, 2014
we should inspired how to get success in life with hardwork
Jasvakingsly Apr 19, 2014
Super star
Vinoth Breme Aug 9, 2013
we love u lot....................................................
Kousik Jul 17, 2013
Santhosh Nair Feb 1, 2013
Rajani sir is obviously the Super Star ... but can never leave a place what the great MGR left. No one else can fill the place for sure.
Prasad Aug 21, 2011
G8 Article, Inspiring, We hardly see a man of his nature.......

Its really G8 to follow him....

Love him....

Keep rocking man..
Shankarlal May 22, 2011
Only one actor is till date called a true superstar and that is RAJESH KHANNA actually RAJESH KHANNA is first and last true superstar all other actor is cheap entertainer.
Mukun Apr 13, 2011
There are people who forget their past as soon as they reach a better position in their life is a man who remembers his past and friends after achieving the impossible. Hats off to ssrk. The real superstar in life.
Praveen Babu Feb 10, 2011
I am a gr8 fan of rajni kanth and his movies... and shivaji rao!!.. gr8 article!
Instant Genius Jan 8, 2011
SSRK, Super star rajani kanth
Dineshwaran Jan 7, 2011
I thank forbes india magazine for such a wonderful article!!
Chitra Jan 2, 2011
Great man are not just who are sucessful but who do not forget their roots and Rajni is a true sucessful man.
T.muralidaran Jan 1, 2011

I have cordially thanks to the FORBES india Magazine all team members & pls take an Interviwe with RAJINI sir ( GURU SIR ).

The FILM hero as well as the DIVINE hero as hats off to RAJINI sir.

Step 1 : Choosen the best way to reach the destination point with earlier time with the safest journey.

Step 2 :Once started the role as given us of full efforts with the hardwork to the works " as there is no motivated minded either success or fail as they (GOD) will take the decision on behalf of the role. Because he is a director & producer of the movie.


I just sent the comments as about my Guru Sir as Super star Rajinikanth & I wish a advance happy new year 2011 wishes to all as into this mail comments.

Thank you.

Voltaire Dec 28, 2010
Thanks to Forbes ... He deserves a lot more of these ... The man of REAL simplicity....
Pradeep Dec 25, 2010
The man whom we can really trust.Rajini is great
Ganesh Dec 25, 2010
Rajini is really humble, simple living man. He is a man of mass. He is the greatest of all Indian actors. You cannot criticize for his on-screen presence. He is a god to all tamil fans.
Suresh Parthasarathy Dec 25, 2010
In these days of lost virtues such as integrity etc. here is a man who transcends and has a reach beyond so many of us, but remains firmly grounded. It is his simplicity, and connect to the real life
Raja Dec 24, 2010
This man deserves all the credit !!!!!! He is a Rockstar ... He is our Super Star !!!!
Knashok Dec 23, 2010
Thailaivar deserves more appreciation and now Forbes has started. He is the undisputed king of Indian Cinema and he is unmatched irrespective of any wood ( Bollywood or Koolywood and other wood ) except Tiger woods
Simple Sundar Dec 22, 2010
Kudos to Forbes India team. Superstar deserves it. He is not only an entertainer but also a role model for us. Thalaiva, we love you. - Sundar,
Geetha Chandar Dec 22, 2010
I have seen very few movies of Rajini but this article is touching because it shows very clearly that he is not ashamed of his past. His striking simplicity despite his stardom and the fact that he values the most sacred of all relationships - friendship - is indeed awe-inspiring.

Thanks and regards.
Venkatesan Dec 22, 2010
I love super star. No one stand in front of his style
Neel Dec 22, 2010
super star is the heart of indian cinema.....

super star is the giant man of indian cinema,...

no one can touch his foot...

ssRk always rocksss...

all actors should follow,wish...him...
Hari Dec 22, 2010
Jasper Dec 22, 2010
Nitesh Dec 22, 2010
John Dec 22, 2010
Next Article in Person of the Year '10
Like this article? Subscribe to Forbes India
Just give us your mobile number and we will get in touch with you
Most Popular
Insta-Subscribe to
Forbes India Magazine
For hassle free instant subscription, just give your number and email id and our customer care agent will get in touch with you
click here to Subscribe Online