Rajinikanth, often referred to as “Thalaiva” (meaning “Leader” in Tamil), is a legendary actor who has achieved iconic status in Indian cinema. Rajinikanth made his acting debut with the Tamil film “Apoorva Raagangal” in 1975. Directed by K. Balachander, the film was a drama that explored complex relationships. Rajinikanth’s portrayal of an antagonist in the movie was critically acclaimed and paved the way for his subsequent ventures.
“Baashha,” directed by Suresh Krissna, is arguably one of Rajinikanth’s most iconic films. In this action-packed drama, Rajinikanth played the role of a simple auto-rickshaw driver named Manickam, who has a dark past as a dreaded gangster named Manick Baashha. His portrayal of the dual characters showcased his versatility as an actor. The film was a massive hit and became a cult classic, setting new records at the box office.
“Muthu,” directed by K. S. Ravikumar, holds a special place in Rajinikanth’s filmography. This romantic drama showcased Rajinikanth’s charming and entertaining side. The film’s success in Japan made him a sensation in the country, earning him the title “Muthu Odoru Maharaja” (“The Dancing Maharaja Muthu”). It remains one of the highest-grossing Tamil films of all time.
Directed by Shankar, “Sivaji” was a magnum opus that showcased Rajinikanth in a grand avatar. He played the role of a software engineer who returned to India intending to serve society. Rajinikanth’s stylish look, powerful performance, and social message resonated with audiences. The film’s success at the box office was phenomenal, and it further cemented his position as the biggest superstar in Indian cinema.
“Enthiran,” directed by Shankar, was a science fiction film that pushed the boundaries of Indian cinema. Rajinikanth played a dual role as the scientist Vaseegaran and his creation, the robot Chitti. His exceptional acting skills brought life to the two characters with distinct mannerisms. The film became a blockbuster and garnered praise for its technical brilliance and Rajinikanth’s outstanding performance. Enthiran grossed ₹1.95 billion in India, with Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi versions netting ₹1.20, ₹530, and ₹220 million, respectively.
Directed by Pa. Ranjith, “Kabali” featured Rajinikanth as an ageing gangster seeking redemption and revenge. Rajinikanth’s portrayal of the character showcased a different shade of his acting prowess, emphasizing emotional depth and intensity. The film’s global box office collection was phenomenal, making it one of the highest-grossing Tamil films at its release. The film’s final worldwide gross was ₹305 crore.
In “Kaala,” directed by Pa. Ranjith, Rajinikanth played the role of a slum lord fighting for the rights of his people against powerful adversaries. The film explored social issues and portrayed Rajinikanth in a more realistic and gritty avatar. Despite its socially relevant theme, “Kaala” performed remarkably well at the box office with ₹159.56 crore globally, mainly due to Rajinikanth’s magnetic screen presence.
Jailer is an upcoming Tamil-language black comedy-action film directed by Nelson and produced by Kalanithi Maran of Sun Pictures. The film stars Rajinikanth in the title role alongside Mohanlal, Jackie Shroff, Shiva Rajkumar, Sunil, Ramya Krishnan, Vinayakan, Mirnaa Menon, and Tamannaah Bhatia. The film was officially announced in February 2022 under the working title Thalaivar 169 and released in June 2023. Principal photography began in August 2022 and was completed in June 2023.