The choice of the iconic actor, a Maharashtrian who was born as Shivaji Rao Gaikwad and worked as a bus conductor in Bengaluru and who can with his mannerisms and stylised dialogue delivery send his devotees into raptures, was made by a jury comprising legendary singer Asha Bhonsle, Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, Bollywood veteran Biswajit Chatterjee, singer Shankar Mahadevan and filmmaker Subhash Ghai.
The announcement by I&B minister Prakash Javadekar, which came in the middle of the campaign for the Tamil Nadu polls, was celebrated by many, including PM Narendra Modi.
“Popular across generations, a body of work few can boast of, diverse roles and an endearing personality… that’s Rajinikanth ji for you. It is a matter of immense joy that Thalaiva has been conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. Congratulations to him,” the PM tweeted.
Popular across generations, a body of work few can boast of, diverse roles and an endearing personality…that’s Sh… https://t.co/wXJ49h77Jc
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1617254002000
Rajinikanth responded, “My heartfelt thanks to the government of India, respected and dearest Narendra Modiji, Prakash Javadekarji and the jury for conferring upon me the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award. I sincerely dedicate it to all those who have been a part of my journey. Thanks to the almighty.”
The actor was conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian decoration, by the Modi government in 2016. Tamil Nadu CM Edapaddi K Palaniswami and DMK chief M K Stalin expressed joy over the recognition for the actor. Union ministers for defence and home, Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah respectively, and BJP chief J P Nadda were among those who took to Twitter to celebrate the honour for Rajinikanth.
Javadekar said, “For about 50 years, Rajinikanth has been the uncrowned king of the film world.”