Rajinikanth rules

Seven classic scenes prove why nobody can do what Rajinikanth does

The Southern Supernova blazes bright.

Rajinikanth is a synonym for flamboyance (or should it be the other way around?) Born Shivajirao Gaekwad in 1950, Rajinikanth has played a variety of roles: he’s been a rapist and a thief, Robin Hood and the ideal son. Tamil cinema’s very own Angry Young Man, whose new movie Lingaa opens on December 12, has developed a unique style over a long and eventful career that several have tried to imitate to their peril.

Here’s what makes him the legend that he is.

Nobody talks like him

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Rajinikanth’s punchy dialogue delivery is his trademark. He is one of the rare Indian stars who treats a great line with the respect it deserves. In a scene from one of his biggest hits, Baasha (1995), for example, he says if you come back here again, I will bury you. If I say something once, it’s equal to saying it a hundred times.

Nobody walks like him

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There are actors who walk into the frame in slow motion. And then there is the frame that stops because Rajinikanth has walked into it. A scene from Annamalai (1992).

Nobody plays the bad guy like him

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Before he became cinema’s avenging angel, Rajinikanth was its unrepentant devil. His early roles, in which he was often pitted against a fair-skinned Kamal Haasan, saw him plays rapists, stalkers, and sadistic husbands. A scene from Avargal (1977).

Nobody dances like him

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From Muthu (1995), whose fame spread far and wide, including to Japan, where it was released as The Dancing Maharaja.

Nobody puts down women like him

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Rajinikanth has had his fair share of showing women their place – an uncomfortable but inextricable factor in his popularity. From another mega-hit, Padayappa.

Nobody handles delirium better than him

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Armies of filmmakers, writers, cinematographers and editors have helped create the Rajini persona. Credit also to the man for his ability to carry off moments of utter mania. A scene from Sivaji (2007).

Nobody speaks Hindi like him

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Rajinikanth’s cinematic adventures include a bunch of movies made in Mumbai in the eighties and nineties, one of the highlights of which is his Southern-inflected Hindi accent. From Chaalbaaz, which also demonstrates his flair for comedy.

Nobody smokes like him

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No actor’s image has suffered more from the Health Ministry’s anti-smoking drive than the king of the animated nicotine stick. From the Hindi movie Gerafataar (1985).

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