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Rajinikanth to be Conferred With Dada Saheb Phalke Award

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Photo Credit: Silverscreen India Media Library

Rajinikanth, the actor who was last seen in the 2020 film Darbar, will be conferred with the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award for his contribution to Indian cinema, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar announced on social media on Thursday.

The recipient of the country’s highest film honour for 2019 was decided by a jury comprising singers Shankar Mahadevan and Asha Bhosle, actors Mohanlal and Biswajeet Chatterjee, and filmmaker Subhash Ghai.

While the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for 2019 was supposed to be held in 2020, it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown.

Reacting to the news, Rajinikanth expressed his gratitude to the Central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a statement on social media.

“I would like to dedicate the award to Raj Bahadur – my fellow bus driver who discovered the actor in me and encouraged me, Sathyanarayana Rao Gaekwad – my brother who made several sacrifices to make me an actor despite living in poverty, filmmaker K Balachander – my teacher who introduced me into the film industry and who made me into ‘Rajinikanth’, filmmakers, producers, fellow artists, distributors, theatre owners, press and the Tamil people who have given a life to me,” the statement said.
He thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam, actor and politician Kamal Haasan, and DMK leader Stalin.

The Robot actor’s career in the film industry spans over 40 years, beginning in 1975. Born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth debuted with a supporting role with K Balachander’s Tamil drama Apoorva Raagangal in 1975. He went on to feature in some of the biggest Indian films, mostly in Tamil, such as Baashha that, as reported by Indian Express, earned him the the title of Thalaiva and catapulted him to a cult status, making him a demi god for his fans.

In 1983, he made his Hindi film debut alongside Amitabh Bachchan, who was the recpient of the Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2018, and Hema Malini in Andha Kanoon, and went on to feature in other Hindi films like Hum and Chaalbaaz.

Wishes poured in from across the country, congratulating Rajinikanth.

In December 2020, Rajinikanth announced his foray into politics and the launch of his political party  ahead of the state Assembly Elections in 2021. He had to be admitted to the hospital later that month after his blood pressure fluctuated. On December 23, 2020, a few crew members from his upcoming Tamil film Annaatthe tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the shooting to a halt. The actor had tested negative.

After he was discharged from the hospital, he announced that he would not join politics owing to persisting health conditions, and cancelled his party’s launch.

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