Rajinikanth turns 61, fans celebrate

The actor chose to remain low profile, though the past year brought him highs, both professional and personal. His mega-budget film 'Enthiran', which was released as 'Robot' in Hindi, turned out to be one of the biggest hits in 2010 and his younger daughter Soundarya, also a film producer, got married to Chennai-based entrepreneur Ashwin this year.

Fans offered sweets to one another and posters of Rajinikanth adorned the walls in Chennai and other cities in the state with followers organising pujas in temples for the cinestar.

Born as Shivaji Rao Gaikwad, Rajinikanth's climb to stardom is no different than a movie screenplay. Rajinikanth, who has acted in over 150 films in a three decade long career, gives credit to his mentor and ace director K Balachander, who first featured him in his critically-acclaimed 'Apoorva Ragangal', co-starring another Tamil icon, Kamal Haasan, for his superstardom.

From a bus conductor in Bangalore to being one of the biggest names in Indian cinema, 'Rajini', as his fans call him, has come a long way in his career spanning more than 30 years.

After proving his mettle with negative characters, Rajinikanth later went on to play characters with superhero attributes. Some of his unique mannerisms, like tossing up the cigarette to his mouth, endeared him to the masses, especially the youth.

However, the very style attracted the ire of former Union Health Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss who wanted the actor to stay away from smoking onscreen. Rajini's 'Chandramukhi' and 'Sivaji-The Boss' had no scenes showing the actor puffing on his trademark cigarette.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi greeted the actor on his birthday, an official release said.

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