Happy birthday Rajinikanth, Superstar, Thalaivar!

#HBDThalaivarSuperstarRAJINI and #HappyBirthdaySuperstar are trending on Twitter. Credit: Twitter/@santhoshh007

Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth celebrates his 69th birthday on Thursday. The 'Superstar' who holds a record for being the first Indian actor to have appeared in four different forms of world cinema ie, black and white, colour, 3D and motion capture, has not had an easy journey in the Indian cinema industry.

But what turned the experimental and fiery young Sivaji Rao Gaekwad the spiritual and calm Superstar?

"Vaipugal amayadhu, namdhan amaithukolla vendum" (Opportunities don't just happen; we have to create them).

- Kochadaiiyaan (2014)

Rajinikath's career graph is like none other. He has seen highs during his upcoming years and flops when he was on the top of the box-office game.

He started his career by playing aside Kamal Haasan, the bigger star during the 70s, in movies like his debut movie Apoorva Raagangal (1975) and the multi-starrer Ninaithale Inikkum (1979). He also played remarkable negative characters in movies like Moondru Mudichu (1976), 16 Vayathinile (1977) and the more recent blockbuster Endhiran (2010).

But the star had done roles in films like Bairavi (1978), Aval Appadithan (1978) and Avargal (1977), which even the younger generation today might take a step back to consider since they all revolve primarily around a female protagonist and a negative role may tarnish one's image. 

His success reached new levels as he reinvented himself in movies like Murattu Kaalai (1980), Polladhavan (1980), Pokkiri Raja (1982) and Billa (1980).

His mentor and cinema world Godfather- K Balachander - brought out the comic side of the star in Thillu Mullu (1981), which widened his horizons further.

The ace actor proved his prowess of shifting the image of any part, even in remade movies like Chilakamma Cheppindi (1977), Idi Katha Kaadu (1979) and Pedarayudu (1995).

(Fun fact: Rajinikanth has also made a special appearance in a Bengali movie called 'Bhagya Debata'.)

The back-to-back success of Annamalai (1992), Thalapathi (1991), Muthu (1995), Baasha (1995), Padayappa (1999) and Arunachalam (1997) made the actor the mega commercial icon he is today.

Playing the larger-than-life characters and having experimented extensively in the 'gangster', 'don' and 'angry-young-man' genres with veteran directors like P Vasu, Suresh Krissna and KS Ravikumar, he has now ventured in with upcoming frontrunners like Pa Ranjith and Karthik Subbaraj.

The star's next project is Darbar with AR Murugadoss and a movie directed by 'Siruthai' Siva, likely to be named 'Thalaivar 168', are expected to release next year.

Rajinikanth's undeniable style and coolness factors are not what defines him. Sure, the sideways trot down the staircase, the fast-paced walk, the hair flip,  the iconic cigarette toss, and the earth-shattering hero-introduction songs, sung by SP Balasubramaniam, turned Sivaji into Rajini. 

It is his ability to reaffirm his grip in the industry that Rajnikanth became the 'Superstar', the box office king who has stayed relevant for the longest time globally, the man who can make the audience follow his moves like cats chasing a pointer.

'"Kashta padama ethivum kadaikathu kashta padama kedachathu ennikume nelaikaathu." (One cannot achieve anything without hard work, and if he does, that success won't last long)

- Padayappa (1999)

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