At that point of time and destiny where all phenomena end, Rajnikanth’s success story begins. In a career spanning 40 years Rajni has acted in nearly 160 films a majority of them being huge successes. Paradoxically his career in Hindi cinema never took off in a big way, barring supporting roles to Amitabh Bachchan in Hum, Rajesh Khanna in Bewafai, Zeenat Aman in Daku Hasina and Sridevi in Chaalbaaz and Rekha in Phool Bane Angaaray. His success and popularity in Tamil cinema defy analysis as he turns 65 on December 12, we look at his 10 most viewer-friendly films.
1. Apoorva Raagangal (1975): Kamal Haasan starred in this incestuously plotted quadrangle. Rajnikanth who made his debut in the film makes a very late entry in the plot in a villainous role. The film directed by Rajnikanth’s mentor still holds up well as a precursor to Rajni’s future superstardom.
2. Mondru Modichu (1976):Wicked! While pretending to be the saintly Kamal Haasan’s friend the scheming Rajni actually plots to separate Kamal from his girlfriend Sridevi. The film was remade by David Dhawan as Mujhse Shaadi Karoge with Akshay Kumar in Rajni’s role. Wickedly funny. K Balachander directed this hilarious love triangle.
3. Kazhugu (1981): One of Rajnikanth’s biggest hits in the 1980s, this one is a crime drama replete with the most outlandish twists and turns. One can see in this ferociously hero-driven film how far and effectively the superstar’s stylized avatar had evolved. Also evident was the rapid redundancy of Rajni’s leading ladies in his films.
4. Thillu Mullu (1981): A complete change of image for the action star, in this comedy directed by K Balchander, Rajni reprised Amol Palekar’s role from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Gol Maal. There was fear that he may not be able to pull off the stunt-free avatar. But Rajni did. Nothing is impossible for this miracle maker.
5. Pokkiri Raja (1982): Rajni in a double role with Sridevi for company. Great fun to watch even today specially for the scenes in jail where Rajni meets his own double.
6. Mondru Mugham (1982): Triple bonanza for Rajni fans, as he played Arun , John and Alex in this comedy of errors. The film was remade into Hindi as John Johnny Janardhan with Rajni reprising his 3 roles. Somehow triple roles don’t work in Hindi cinema. See Dilip Kumar in Bairaag, Amitabh Bachchan in Mahaan and Rajnikanth in John Johnny Janardhan. In the South, it’s the more the merrier.
7. Chandramukhi (2005): A comedy horror directed by P Vasu which broke records all over the world, including Japan where Rajnikanth has a staunch fan following. The film was remade into Hindi as Bhool Bhulaiyawith Akshay Kumar in Rajni’s role. Rajni’s version of the gothically-giggly tale was far more enrapturing.
8. Muthu (1995):Rajnikanth in a double role of a Zamindar who renounces his wealth and retires into the Himalayas leaving his son(Rajni, again) behind. A roaring success in India and Japan
9. Sivaji (2007): One of Rajnkanth’s most influential film, this features him as an NRI software engineer who returns home to dreams of changing the country’s economy. Rajnikanth’s messianic image at its peak.
10. Enthiran (2010): Shankar directed this SFX-driven spectacle which saw Rajni plays a scientist and a robot . No one cared what Rajni played. The film’s spectacular look was unprecedented. It was Rajni like never before.