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Shivaji Rao Gaikwad[a] (born 12 December 1950), known professionally as Rajinikanth (/rədʒɪnɪkɑːnθ/), is an Indian actor who works mainly in Tamil cinema. In a career spanning over five decades, he has done more than 160 films that include films in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, and Malayalam. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful and popular actors in the history of Indian cinema.  Known for his uniquely styled lines and idiosyncrasies in films, he has a huge fan base throughout India and a cult following.


 The Government of India honored him with Padma Bhushan in 2000, Padma Vibhushan in 2016, India's third and second highest civilian honors, and the highest award in the field of cinema Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2019 for his contributions to Indian cinema.


Following his debut in K. Balachander's 1975 Tamil drama Apoorva Raagangal, Rajinikanth's acting career commenced with a brief phase of portraying antagonistic characters in Tamil films. His major positive role as a scorned lover in S. P. Muthuraman's Bhuvana Oru Kelvi Kuri (1977), 1978's Mullum Malarum and Aval Appadithan received him critical acclaim; the former earned him a Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize for Best Actor. 


 By the end of the decade, he had worked in all South Indian film industries and established a career in Tamil cinema. He then played dual roles in the action thriller Billa (1980), a remake of the Hindi film Don (1978). It was his biggest commercial success to that point, earned him stardom, and gave him the action hero image. He starred in a triple role in Moondru Mugam (1982), which earned him a special prize at the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards ceremony. The following year, he made his Bollywood debut with T. Rama Rao's top-grossing Andhaa Kaanoon (1983).


 Nallavanukku Nallavan (1984) won that year's Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Actor. In the latter half of the 1980s, he starred in several successful films in Tamil and Hindi, including Padikkadavan (1985), Mr. Bharath (1986), Bhagwaan Dada (1986), Velaikaran (1987), Dharmathin Thalaivan (1988) and Hum (1991).


In 1991, Mani Ratnam's Tamil crime film Thalapathi, earned him major critical acclaim for his performance. He collaborated with Suresh Krishna on many films including Annaamalai (1992) and Baashha (1995); the latter was the biggest commercial success in his career yet as well as the highest-grossing film in Tamil for many years. His other success includes P. Vasu's Mannan (1992), Uzhaippali (1993), and K. S. Ravikumar's Muthu (1995) and Padayappa (1999); the latter of which went on to become his and Tamil cinema's highest-grossing movie, exceeding Baashha.


After a few years of hiatus, he returned to acting with the comedy horror film Chandramukhi (2005); it went on to become again the highest-grossing Tamil film. His next, S. Shankar's Sivaji (2007) was the third Indian film to enter the 100 Crore Club. He played dual roles, as a scientist and an andro-humanoid robot, in the science fiction film Enthiran (2010) and its sequel 2.0 (2018), both being India's most expensive productions at the time of their release, and among the highest-grossing Indian films of all time.


He has won many awards, including a National Film Award, seven Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, a Nandi Award, and a Filmfare Award. Rajinikanth was also named one of the most influential persons in South Asia by Asiaweek.  He was also named by Forbes India as the most influential Indian of the year 2010.


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Darbar as Aadithya Arunachalam