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Superstar Rajinikanth, who today received the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke award, dedicated the honour to his mentor and late film director K Balanchander. He was bestowed with the Indian cinema's highest honour for an artiste, for the year 2019.

Born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad on December 12, 1950, Rajinikanth worked as a bus conductor before joining film industry. Today, the actor thanked his elder brother Sathyanarayana Rao, transport colleague and friend Raj Bahadur, his fans, filmmakers, colleagues and the Tamil people for their unwavering support over the five decades.

“I'm extremely happy to receive this award and my thanks to the government for this most prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award. I dedicate this award to my guru, my mentor K Balachander sir," Rajinikanth said in his acceptance speech.  

"My friend, driver and transport colleague Raj Bahadur. He spotted the acting talent in me and encouraged me to join cinema. All my producers and directors who have produced my films, technicians, artists, distributors, media, press and all my fans, and Tamil people..." the superstar said at the National Film Awards ceremony at Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu called Rajinikanth "one of the great sons of this great country". Describing Rajinikanth as a "great actor from south India not of south India", the vice president in his address said the veteran actor has given memorable performances in films including "Bhairavi" and "Sivaji".

"The iconic thespian's unmatchable acting skills have given a new dimension to the Indian film industry... He has shown how to maintain a perfect balance between artistic expression and mass appeal," Naidu added.

From his 1975 debut with Balachander in "Apoorva Raagangal", "Moondru Mudichu", "Billa", Hindi titles "Hum", "ChaalBaaz", “Bhagwaan Dada" to "Enthiran", "Kaala" and now the upcoming "Annatthe", Rajinikanth continues to entertain the audience with his swag, style and inimitable on-screen presence.

With agency inputs 

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