Superstar Rajinikanth was conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award on Monday at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi during the 67th National Film Awards ceremony. Rajinikanth used to work as a bus conductor before he joined the film industry, and the actor dedicated the award to his old friend, a bus driver, who encouraged him to pursue acting as a career.
Rajinikanth said, “He was the first person to identify the acting talent in me when I was a bus conductor, and encouraged me to enter the world of cinema. I’d also like to thank all my producers, directors, technicians, co-artistes, distributors, media and the press.”
He also thanked the Central government for the reward, adding, “I dedicate this award to my guru and mentor K Balachander sir, and I remember him with gratitude. I also dedicate this to my brother Thiru Sathyanarayana Rao Gaikwad, who was a father figure to me, and raised me with great values instilling spirituality in me.”
K Balachander had directed Rajinikanth’s first major film Apoorva Raagangal, which released in 1975. In his acceptance speech, Rajinikanth also thanked his fans and said he is “nobody without them.
Rajinikanth was chosen for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award honour by a jury consisting of Asha Bhosle, Biswajeet Chatterjee, Subhash Ghai, Mohanlal, and Shankar Mahadevan.
The South superstar attended the ceremony with his wife Latha Rajinikanth, daughter Aishwarya R. Dhanush, and son-in-law Dhanush. Dhanush won the National award for ‘Best Actor’ for his film Asuran.
Rajinikanth was last seen in the 2020 film Darbar directed by A. R. Murugadoss. His upcoming film Annaatthe, written and directed by Siva, is scheduled to release on 4 November.