From a bus conductor to one of the most admired and worshipped actor in the world, the story of Shivaji Rao Gaikwad, later rechristened Rajinikanth, could very well make a good script for a blockbuster movie. As Rajinikanth turns 62 Wednesday, members of the film fraternity look back at what still makes him a superstar.
Viji Chandrasekhar, who played Rajini's younger sister in Tamil comedy Thillu Mullu, a Tamil remake of Hindi blockbuster Gol Maal, feels it's his ability to treat everybody equally that makes Rajinikanth the icon he is.
"He treats everybody on sets with utmost respect and equal importance. Be it a light boy or a co-star, he doesn't discriminate for any reason," Viji told IANS.
She said a superstar is not someone who is always successful, but is someone who takes success and failure in the same stride and yet remains simple.
"I've learnt to be simple while working with him on the sets of the film. Though he plays a hero in the film, he is simple in real life. Most importantly, he knows how to take success and failure in the same stride," she added.
On the other hand, Tamil filmmaker Lakshmy Ramakrishnan feels Rajinikanth is a superstar because he doesn't believe he is one.
"He never believes or wanted to be called a superstar, but he is one because people made him. Superstars are not born, they are made. But if someone desperately tries to be a superstar, they're sure to fail," said Ramakrishnan.
Rajinikanth began his acting journey in 1975 with Tamil film Apoorva Raagangal, and has since then appeared in over 175 titles. He made his mark as a character actor in the movie Aarulirunthu Arupathu Varai. He has also featured in Bollywood films such as Bhagwan Dada, Chaalbaaz and Hum.
Having worked with Rajinikanth in four Tamil films - "Baasha", "Veera", "Annamalai" and "Baba" - southern filmmaker Suresh Krissna feels the actor is a superstar both on and off the screen.
"So many actors, who've been very successful, have come and gone, but Rajinikanth is and will remain a superstar forever. He's the true bearer of the star tag because people love him on reel and in real life," said Suresh, adding that Baasha is a milestone in his career.
"Every event or gathering I attended post Baasha, at least one question was asked about my experience with Rajini on the sets of the film. People started recognising me particularly for this film and the popularity I received was inexplainable."
To celebrate the success of his collaboration with the actor, Krissna is set to launch his book titled My Days with Baasha Wednesday. It will be available in all the leading book stores.
"This book will encapsulate my working experience with Rajini sir on the sets of three highly successful films. It will also feature working stills along with real anecdotes which will make for an inspiring read," he said.
There are two other special things lined up for Rajinikanth's birthday - the 3D version of his blockbuster film Sivaji will be released on the same day, and another Tamil film titled Alex Pandian, which is named after the character the actor essayed in the Tamil film Moondru Mugam, will release its audio.