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Birthday Special: The Many Avatars of Rajinikanth

By S Saraswathi
December 12, 2014 08:56 IST
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Celebrating the Thalaiva's birthday.

On Rajinikanth's 64th birthday, you will get to see the Superstar in a theatre near you, thanks to his latest release, Lingaa.

Lingaa has been directed by K S Ravikumar, and co-stars Sonakshi Sinha and Anushka Shetty.

Almost four decades ago, in 1975, Rajinikanth made his debut in K Balachander's National Award-winning Apoorva Raagangal. Over the years, he has played innumerable characters.

We celebrate his birthday by rewinding to his popular roles.


Chitti in Enthiran (2010)

Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Enthiran

Image: Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Enthiran

Director Shankar's magnum opus Enthiran saw Rajinikanth in a dual role. 

Though he was impressive as the famous scientist Dr Vaseekaran, it was his portrayal of the robot Chitti that won him acclaim.

Enthiran narrates the tale of a humanoid robot falling in love with the lovely Sana, played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

The charismatic Rajini gave an effortless performance as usual. The shades of grey in Chitti especially thrilled the audience.

An overwhelming film packed with fantastic special effects, the grandeur usually associated with Shankar's films and the brilliance of the superstar made Enthiran one of the highest grossing films of Indian cinema at the time.


Parattai in 16 Vayathinile (1977)

Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth in Parattai in 16 Vayathinile

Image: Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth in 16 Vayathinile.

Bharathiraja's directorial debut 16 Vayathinile featured Kamal Haasan, Sridevi and Rajinikanth in lead roles.

Rajini was brilliant as Parattai, the charming rogue lusting after young Mayilu (Sridevi) and relentlessly tormenting Chappani (Kamal Haasan).

Despite the stellar performances of both Kamal and Sridevi, Rajini managed to stand out.

The line, 'Ithu eppadi irukku?' (How's that?), which he repeats with much style and casual sarcasm throughout the film, delighted the audience, earning him much applause. 


Billa Rajappa in Billa (1980)

Rajinikanth in Billa

Image: PRajinikanth in Billa.

Billa, inspired by Amitabh Bachchan's Don, revolved around a feared mafia don, who is killed in a police encounter. His lookalike is then sent in his place to infiltrate his gang.

Rajini played the dual role of the village bumpkin Rajappa and the stylish Billa. Rajini simply sizzled in this role that seemed tailor-made for him. 

The film was such a huge success that it was later remade by Vishnuvardhan with the same title, and Ajith reprising Rajinikanth's role.


Surya in Thalapathi (1991)

Rajinikanth in Thalapathi

Image: Rajinikanth in Thalapathi.

Mani Ratnam's Thalapathi portrayed Rajinikanth in an entirely new light. 

The film was inspired by the legendary tale of friendship between Karna and Duryodhan, played by superstars Mammootty and Rajinikanth. 

Totally devoid of his trademark style, his portrayal of the character Surya remains one of his finest performances to date.


Annamalai in Annamalai (1992)

Rajiinikanth and Khushboo in Annamalai

Image: Rajiinikanth and Khushboo in Annamalai.

Annamalai, directed by Suresh Krissna of Baasha fame, narrated a tale of friendship, trust, betrayal and revenge. 

Despite the vast difference in their social standing, Ashok, a rich hotelier and Annamalai, a poor milkman, are childhood friends. The film's plot revolved around the destruction of this beautiful relationship.

Rajinikanth coolly shouldered the responsibility of the entire film, which went on to celebrate its 175-day run at the box office.

The film was a remake of Rakesh Roshan's directorial debut, Khudgarz and was later successfully remade in Telugu as Kondapalli Raja with Venkatesh Daggubati.


Manick Baasha in Baasha (1995)

Rajinikanth in Baasha

Image: Rajinikanth in Baasha.

In director Suresh Krissna's Baasha, Rajinikath played the powerful larger-than-life character Manick Baasha. 

The script was intended to glorify the actor's superstar image and Rajini proved beyond doubt that he is the undisputed Badshah of commercial cinema. 

Loaded with high octane stunts and trademark punch lines, this fast-paced entertainer catapulted him to superstardom overnight. 

Baasha went on to become one of the biggest hits of his career.


Muthuvel in Muthu (1995)

Rajinikanth and Meena in Muthu

Image: Rajinikanth and Meena in Muthu.

Muthu was director K S Ravikumar and Rajinikanth's first film together. A remake of the Malayalam blockbuster Thenmavin Kombathu, Muthu was a huge blockbuster. 

The film had loads of everything that we expect from a Rajinikanth movie -- sentiment, action, romance, punch lines and comedy -- and predictably, the superstar aced them all.

Rajinikanth won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor and a Filmfare Award for his stunning effort.


Arunachalam Vethachalam in Arunachalam (1997)

Rajinikanth in Arunachalam

Image: Rajinikanth in Arunachalam.

Sundar C's Arunachalam was inspired by the Hollywood film Brewster's Million and Naseeruddin Shah's Maalamaal.

Rajini played the title role of an orphan, who suddenly comes into a Rs 3,000 crore inheritance from a father he never knew existed. But there are conditions attached and it takes all of Arunachalam's skill and intelligence to stay in the game.

The role was child's play for the superstar.


Aarupadayappan in Padayappa (1999)

Rajinikanth in Padayappa

Image: Rajinikanth in Padayappa.

Though Rajini was paired opposite Soundarya in K S Ravikumar's Padayappa, it was his scenes with the glamorous Ramya Krishnan that scorched the screen. 

Together, their powerful performance took the film to a whole new level.

Rajini as the down-to-earth Aarupadayappan thwarts the affections of headstrong Nilambari (Ramya Krishnan), earning her wrath. Her revenge forms the essence of the story.

A typical Rajini potboiler, the film went on to become a huge blockbuster.

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S Saraswathi