Tamil cinema icon Rajnikanth turns 62

Chennai: Tamil cinema icon Rajnikanth, idolised by millions, turned 62 today on a day of special significance for his fans, who have lined up a slew of programmes for the 'special' date of 12-12-12.

Actor-director Raghavendra Lawrence and music director Vijay Antony have come out with a special musical video dedicated to Rajnikanth, even as TV channels will telecast a series of programmes on him, including airing some of his biggest hits.

Radio FM channels were not far behind in celebrating his birthday.

Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, he transformed his simple life from a bus conductor in Bangalore to a much followed superstar a decade later, with a larger than life style and mannerisms in his films.

Discovered by celebrated director K Balachander, a recipient of Dadasaheb Phalke Award, and cast along another top star of Indian cinema Kamal Hassan in his 'Apoorva Raagangal' in the mid 70s, Rajnikanth shaped his initial career with negative roles, including in 'Moondru Mudichu', also starring Hassan.

The duo, often referred to as pivotal points in Tamil cinema after the MGR-Sivaji era, shared space in a number of films before each carved a place for themselves in the industry.

With his gimmicks and dialogue delivery instantly touching a chord with the younger audience, Rajnikanth delivered some of the biggest blockbusters, including 'Thalapathi' directed by Mani Ratnam, 'Annamalai', 'Basha', 'Padayappa' and the more recent 'Enthiran', a sci-fi thriller.

He had his tryst with Hindi cinema also, featuring in movies including the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer 'Hum', besides doing a cameo in Shah Rukh Khan's 'Ra.One.'

A very religious man, he was cast as Saint Raghavendra in the film named after the guru but 'Baba', a film with religious undertones.

The actor faced a health scare due to a reported kidney ailment last year, but was soon back in action. He is presently shooting for his daughter Soundarya's much-hyped 'Kochadaiyaan'.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters, Rajnikanth described as "significant" the date 12-12-12.

He described as fantastic, his Tamil blockbuster 'Sivaji', re-released in the 3D format and said all were excited about it.

Rajnikanth thanked all his fans for their prayers for his well being, saying "my health is fine" and added he would be happy if his fans conducted prayers on the occasion of their parents' birthday.