Delving Into Rajinikanth’s Illustrious Career in Kollywood


There is no denying that Rajinikanth’s name shines with an unmatched luster in the world of Kollywood. Embarking on a journey that took him from a bus conductor to a cinematic icon, Rajinikanth’s career is a saga of sheer determination, unparalleled charisma, and a unique style that has captivated millions. 

His rise to superstardom in Tamil cinema is not just a story of fame; it’s a narrative of an artist who redefined the very contours of Kollywood. In this article, we delve into the journey of this enigmatic star, exploring how his roles, charisma, and persona have left an indelible impact on Tamil cinema and its audiences.

The Early Life of Rajinikanth

Rajinikanth, a name that resonates with millions today, had a modest start in life, one that is starkly different from the glitz of his current superstar status. Born on December 12, 1950, in a Marathi family in Bangalore, his childhood was spent in the lanes of a bustling city where his family struggled to make ends meet. Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, as he was then known, faced the hardships of early life with a resilience that would later define his cinematic journey.

His father, Ramoji Rao Gaekwad, worked as a police constable, and the family’s financial constraints meant that young Shivaji had to take up various jobs to support his household. He worked as a coolie and a bus conductor for the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, experiences that grounded him in the realities of life. These humble jobs were far from the glamor of cinema, yet they played a crucial role in shaping his character and work ethic.

During this period, Rajinikanth’s interest in acting began to take root. He started participating in plays at the local Ramakrishna Math, a place that provided solace and direction to the young Shivaji. It was in the said center that he discovered his love for the stage, a passion that would soon steer his life toward an unimaginable trajectory.

Early Career as an Actor

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The early career of Rajinikanth, a saga of sheer grit and talent, began in the 1970s when his journey as an actor took its first definitive steps. After enrolling in the Madras Film Institute, his passion for acting found the right nurturing ground. It was here that director K. Balachander spotted the fire and potential in a young Shivaji Rao Gaekwad and offered him a role in the Tamil film “Apoorva Raagangal” (1975), marking Rajinikanth’s first foray into the world of cinema.

Initially cast in supporting roles, often playing antagonists, Rajinikanth’s unique style and screen presence quickly caught the audience’s attention. His performance in “Moondru Mudichu” (1976) and “Avargal” (1977) demonstrated his ability to portray complex characters with a natural flair. These roles, though not central, were pivotal in showcasing his potential as a versatile actor.

In 1978, “Bairavi” marked the first film where Rajinikanth played the lead role, earning him the title of a “Superstar” by Tamil magazine “Ananda Vikatan.” This was a turning point in his career, laying the groundwork for his future as a leading hero. Rajinikanth’s rise was rapid and impactful, with his films like “Billa” (1980) and “Murattu Kaalai” (1980) further establishing him as a commercial success.

Rajinikanth’s Rise to Stardom

The 1980s marked the meteoric rise of Rajinikanth as he ascended to the zenith of Kollywood, becoming a household name across India. This era saw Rajinikanth transition from a promising actor to a celebrated superstar, captivating audiences with his unique style and charismatic screen presence.

The decade kicked off with blockbusters like “Billa” (1980) and “Murattu Kaalai” (1980), where Rajinikanth’s portrayal of stylish and rugged characters resonated with the masses. These films were not just commercial successes; they crafted a new image for Rajinikanth, that of an action hero with a magnetic appeal. His dialogue delivery, mannerisms, and distinctive style became trademarks that fans began to emulate.

In the mid-1980s, Rajinikanth proved his versatility with films like “Thillu Mullu” (1981), a comedy that showcased his timing and ability to handle different genres with ease. His performance in “Muthu” (1995), which later became the first Tamil film to be dubbed into Japanese, further cemented his international fame.

Rajinikanth’s journey through the 1980s and beyond is characterized by a series of blockbuster films that broke box office records. His ability to connect with the audience, transcending age and socio-economic barriers, turned him into a demigod for his fans. Films like “Annamalai” (1992) and “Baasha” (1995) not only added to his stardom but also shaped the culture of Tamil cinema.

Rajinikanth’s Career in the 2000s and Beyond

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As the new millennium unfolded, Rajinikanth’s career took on new dimensions, reinforcing his status as an enduring icon of Indian cinema. The 2000s and beyond witnessed Rajinikanth not just maintaining his superstar status but also exploring new frontiers in his cinematic journey, further entrenching his influence in Kollywood and beyond.

The early 2000s saw Rajinikanth in “Chandramukhi” (2005), a film that became one of the longest-running South Indian films. His portrayal of a psychiatrist investigating supernatural occurrences was both a commercial and critical success, showcasing his ability to blend drama with elements of horror and comedy.

In 2007, Rajinikanth starred in “Sivaji,” directed by Shankar. The film’s grandeur, coupled with Rajinikanth’s performance as a software systems architect who returns to India to serve the nation, broke box office records. It was a film that combined social messages with commercial elements, embodying the quintessential Rajinikanth formula.

The release of “Enthiran” (2010), also directed by Shankar, marked a significant milestone in Rajinikanth’s career and Indian cinema. Playing both the hero and the antagonist, Rajinikanth explored the realm of science fiction. The movie’s groundbreaking special effects and Rajinikanth’s dual performance received international acclaim, showcasing Indian cinema’s potential on a global platform.

Even in the late 2010s, Rajinikanth’s films continued to create waves. “Kabali” (2016) and “Kaala” (2018) saw him taking on more nuanced roles, reflecting social and political themes. These films indicated a shift from his usual larger-than-life characters, presenting him in more grounded and emotionally complex roles.


As we reflect on Rajinikanth’s illustrious career in Kollywood, it becomes evident that he is more than just an actor; he is a phenomenon that has redefined Tamil cinema. From his humble beginnings to achieving the status of a living legend, Rajinikanth’s journey in the film industry is a narrative of resilience, innovation, and unparalleled popularity. His films have not just broken box office records but have also left a lasting imprint on the hearts of millions.

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