Rajinikanth (born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad on December 12, 1950 in Bangalore, Karnataka, India) is an Indian film actor and 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. Apart from his film career, he is a well known philanthropist and also serves as a notable influence in the politics of Tamil Nadu. Other than acting, Rajinikanth worked as a screenwriter, film producer, and also a playback singer.
Popularily referred to and credited in films as "Superstar" and often called as thalaivar (meaning leader in Tamil), Rajinikanth debuted as an actor in 1975 under the direction of K. Balachander in supporting roles. He was later favored in portraying antagonistic characters and gradually rose to acting in lead roles. Being a well known film artist to several regional film industries of India, he also appeared in the cinemas of other nations, including American cinema. He was reportedly paid Rs. 26 crore (about $5.3 million USD as of January 2009) for his latest blockbuster Sivaji: The Boss, making him the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan.