Actor Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, aka Rajinikanth, will be conferred with the 51st Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award in cinema, this year.
Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, announced the win. He wrote:
"Happy to announce Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2019 to one of the greatest actors in history of Indian cinema, Rajinikant ji. His contribution as actor, producer and screenwriter has been iconic."
For this year's award, the jury included Asha Bhosle, Subhash Ghai, Mohanlal, Shankar Mahadevan, and Biswajeet Chatterjee.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate Thalaiva, or Leader, as Rajinikanth is called by his fans.
Modi wrote: "Popular across generations, a body of work few can boast of, diverse roles and an endearing personality...that's Shri Rajinikanth Ji for you. It is a matter of immense joy that Thalaiva has been conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. Congratulations to him."
Born and brought up in Bengaluru, Rajinikanth was a bus conductor for the Bangalore Transport Service. Later he took up an acting course at the MGR Government Film and Television Training Institute, then known as Madras Adyar Film Institute. Today, he is recognised as one of the most popular actors in the history of Indian cinema.
The 70-year old actor made his debut in K Balachander's Tamil drama Apoorva Raagangal in 1975. Primarily an actor in the Tamil film industry, RajInikanth attained "God-like" status for his film Baashha (1995). His 2007 film Sivaji: The Boss was the third Indian film to enter the Rs 100-crore club.
Rajinikanth was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016. He is the highest grossing actor in Tamil cinema's history after veteran MG Ramachandran.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award honours outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema. It was introduced by the government to commemorate The Father of Indian cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke. Actor Devika Rani was the first recipient of the award in 1969.
Vinod Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan won the award in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Edited by Lena Saha