The undisputed king of Tamil cinema Rajnikanth turns 57 on December 12.
He was born the fourth child of Jijabai and Ramojirao Gaekwad and was named Shivaji Rao Gaekward. Although a Maharashtrian, he was born and brought up in Karnataka.
Before he pursued his passion -- cinema -- he worked as a bus conductor in Bangalore. It was his friend and bus driver, Raj Bahadur, who encouraged and funded him to join the Adyar film institute.
Noted filmmaker K Balachander noticed him and signed him on as a villain in Apoorva Raagangal in 1975. He was rechristened Rajnikanth.
Rajni became a sensation as a villain, and starred in hits like Moondru Mudichu and 16 vayathinile.
The next turning point in his career was Billa in 1980. Rajni became a superstar, as more hits followed: Muthu, Padayappa, Basha, Annamalai, Chandramukhi and the recent Sivaji. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2000.
Now, 27 years later, he still rules the hearts of millions.