Rajinikanth (born 12 December 1950 as Shivaji Rao Gaikwad) is an Indian film actor, media personality, and cultural icon. He made his debut as an actor in the National Film Award–winning Tamil film Apoorva Raagangal (1975), directed by K. Balachander, whom the actor considers his mentor.

After a brief phase of portraying antagonistic characters in Tamil films, he gradually rose to become an established film actor. Within a few years, he was acclaimed as the superstar of Tamil cinema and continues to hold a matinee idol status in the popular culture of India. His mannerisms and stylised delivery of dialogue in films contribute to his mass popularity and appeal. After being paid INR26 crore (US$5.9 million) for his role in Sivaji(2007), he became the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan. He was one of the most influential actors in the film industry due to his overwhelming back-driven influence on politics in Tamil Nadu.

Rajinikanth has worked in over 150 films across various film industries of India. He has won six Tamil Nadu State Film Awards—four Best Actor Awardsand two Special Awards for Best Actor—and a Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award. He was bestowed the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour in 2000. Other than acting, Rajinikanth has also worked as a producer and screenwriter.