Rajinikanth is one of the most influential and bankable movie stars in Indian cinema. Rajinikanth's mass popularity and appeal is largely drawn from his mannerisms and stylized delivery of dialogue. He received India's third highest honour, the Padma Bhushan, for his contribution to Indian cinema. Other than acting, Rajinikanth worked as a screenwriter, film producer and also a playback singer. Rajinikanth was born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad in a Maratha family in Karnataka, India. His ancestors are from the village of NachiKuppam in Krishnagiri district, Tamil Nadu. He was the fourth child of his parents, Jijabai and Ramojirao Gaekwad, a police constable.
He lost his mother at the age of eight. He did his schooling at the Acharya Paathshala in Basavanagudi, Bangalore and then at the Vivekananda Balaka Sangha. Rajinikanth struggled a lot during his early age because of his family's low income. Although his mother-tongue is Marathi, he has not acted in any Marathi films yet. He worked with various jobs in Bangalore. He also attended a theatre for stage plays. Before starting his career in the film industry, he used to practice stunts at the Rama Hanuman Temple at a hill near his house. He then primarily worked as a bus conductor for the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation in Bangalore. It was during the time that he nurtured his acting interests by performing in various stage plays.
Rajinikanth married Latha Rangachari, a student of Ethiraj College for Women, who interviewed him for her college magazine. The marriage took place on 26 February 1981, in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. The couple have two daughters named Aishwarya Rajinikanth and Soundarya Rajinikanth. Latha runs a school named "The Ashram". Aishwarya married actor Dhanush on 18 November 2004 and they have two sons, Yathra and Linga. His younger daughter, Soundarya, works in the Tamil film industry as a director, producer and graphic designer. She married industrialist Ashwin Ramkumar on 3 September 2010 and have a son Ved Krishna.
He made his Hollywood debut with the movie Bloodstone in 1988 with much fanfare in India at the time of its release. However, the movie failed in the United States. He also made brief stints in German- and Japanese film industries. His film Muthu was dubbed into Japanese and later turned out to become a major hit in the country, ultimately creating a huge Japanese fan-following for Rajni. In 2005, his film Chandramukhi was dubbed in German and released in all German-speaking nations. Rajinikanth's first film was in Tamil cinema, where he was initially cast in supporting roles, debuting as a cancer patient in Apoorva Raagangal in 1975. The film was directed by K. Balachander, who is constantly referred to by Rajinikanth as his own guru or mentor.
The following year, Rajinikanth acted in his first Kannada film, Katha Sangama, directed by Puttanna Kanagal. Though Rajinikanth refers to director K. Balachander as his "guru" or mentor, it was director S. P. Muthuraman who actually revamped Rajinikanth’s image entirely. Muthuraman first experimented with him in a positive role in Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri (1977), as a villain in the first half and a do-gooder in the second, accepting a woman with a child abandoned by her lover. Around this time Mullum Malarum (1978), directed by J. Mahendran, established Rajinikanth in the Tamil film arena. The success of Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri prompted Muthuraman to make a mushy melodrama with Rajinikanth as a hero sacrificing everything for his siblings in Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai (1979).
His cult classic Baasha, released in 1995, went on to become a massive blockbuster. Rajinikanth worked again with Sivaji director Shankar for the science fiction film, Enthiran. The film was released worldwide in 2010 as the costliest Indian film ever made with a budget of Indian Rupee 162 crores (US $36 million), ultimately becoming the highest-grossing film in India of its time.
Despite several failed attempts to restart Rana upon his return, Rajinikanth reprised his Enthiran. Enthiran character, Chitti, in the Bollywood science-fiction film Ra One (2011) in a guest appearance alongside Shahrukh khan andKareena Kapoor. In November 2011, it was decided that Rana would be shelved to make way for a new project with Rajinikanth, titled Kochadaiiyan. The Motion Picture film, which is the first of its kind in India, was released in 2014 to positive reviews. Kochadaiiyan, and the 3D release of Sivaji in 2012, made Rajinikanth the first Indian actor to have appeared in four different forms of cinema: black & White, colour, 3D and motion picture. Following the completion of Kochadaiiyan, Rajinikanth began work in Ravikumar's next directorial venture, titled Lingaa alongside Anushka Shetty and Sonakshi Sinha. The film was released on 12 December 2014, coinciding with his birthday, and received mixed reviews from critics. Rajinikanth's next film, a mob film titled Kabali, was confirmed in May 2015 to be directed by Pa. Ranjith and produced by Kalaipuli S. Dhanu.