It was announced on Thursday that actor Rajinikanth will be the 51st recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the country’s highest honour for cinema artists. As wishes continued to pour in, the 70-year-old actor put out a thank-you note, also conveying his regards to all those who wished him.
Expressing gratitude to the Union government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rajini, who is fondly referred to as ‘Thalaivar’ and Superstar by his fans, conveyed his foremost thanks to his closest friend Raj Bahadur, who worked as a bus driver when the former was a conductor. Rajini's life story from being a bus conductor to one of the top most stars in Indian cinema is the stuff of legend.
“For discovering my acting skill and for encouraging me, my friend Raj Bahadur,” he wrote, following it up with thanks to his brother Sathyanarayana Rao Gaekwad. “For making all the sacrifices that he did to make me an actor, even when wrought by poverty,” Rajini wrote in his letter.
He then went on to thank director K Balachander, his guru, for introducing him to cinema and for making him the actor that he is today. Rajinikanth made his debut in Balachander’s Apoorva Raagangal in the year 1975, sharing screen with Kamal Haasan, Sundarrajan and Srividya. The actor played a brief but very memorable role in this film.
The actor also thanked all the directors, producers, technicians, distributors, theatre owners, media houses, people of Tamil Nadu and his fans across the world. He wrote that the award is dedicated to all of them.
Rajini has also thanked all those who have wished him so far, and this includes Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, leader of the Opposition MK Stalin, his friend and colleague Kamal Haasan, and all other leaders.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award has been presented by the Indian government since 1969. Some of the notable recipients so far include filmmaker Satyajit Ray, actors Devika Rani, Prithviraj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan (2018), actor turned politician Vinodh Khanna (2017) and director K Vishwanath in (2017).