Superstar Rajinikanth will be honoured with the 2019 Dadasaheb Phalke award, the government announced today. He will receive the award on May 3.
In a congratulatory tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said "it is a matter of immense joy that Thalaiva has been conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award". Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami spoke to Rajinikanth on phone and congratulated him.
Popular across generations, a body of work few can boast of, diverse roles and an endearing personality...that's Shri @rajinikanth Ji for you.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 1, 2021
It is a matter of immense joy that Thalaiva has been conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. Congratulations to him.
In tweets, the actor thanked the government, PM Modi, Mr Javadekar and the jury for the award. "I sincerely dedicate it to all those who have been a part of my journey. Thanks to the almighty," he said.
Responding to PM Modi's wishes, Rajinikanth said he is "humbled and honoured" with his greetings and the award.
Immensely humbled and honoured with your greetings and the most prestigious #DadasahebPhalkeAward award respected and dearest Shri @narendramodi ji. My heartfelt thanks to you and the government of india https://t.co/XT9X6paSNT— Rajinikanth (@rajinikanth) April 1, 2021
The announcement of the top honour for Rajinkanth, 70, comes just days before the assembly election in Tamil Nadu where his largest fan base is.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar responded sharply to a question linking the two. "This is an award related to the film world and Rajinikanth has been working for 50 years...one must ask proper questions," he said.
Congress leader Rajiv Shukla was among those who questioned the timing of the award. "The BJP puts vote angles in everything and finds politics in everything. The BJP should not do everything according to votes. A great actor like Rajinikanth should have been given the honour earlier," he said.
Rajinikanth dropped his political plans in December last year, in a stunning about-turn after years of speculation. On the brink of launching his political party, he backed out citing his health.
The BJP has reportedly reached out to the veteran actor for support but he has refused to publicly endorse any party.
The jury this year for the prestigious award included playback icon Asha Bhosle, director-producer Subhash Ghai, Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, music composer and singer Shankar Mahadevan and Biswajeet Chatterjee.
"Happy to announce #Dadasaheb Phalke award for 2019 to one of the greatest actors in history of Indian cinema Rajnikant ji. His contribution as actor, producer and screenwriter has been iconic," Mr Javadekar had tweeted earlier today. He said the award will be presented to Rajinikanth on May 3 along with the National Film Awards.
Happy to announce #Dadasaheb Phalke award for 2019 to one of the greatest actors in history of Indian cinema Rajnikant ji— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) April 1, 2021
His contribution as actor, producer and screenwriter has been iconic
I thank Jury @ashabhosle@SubhashGhai1@Mohanlal@Shankar_Live#BiswajeetChatterjeepic.twitter.com/b17qv6D6BP
"He (Rajinikanth) has been shining like the sun in the film world. He has created a space in the hearts of the people through his talent, hard work and diligence," he said.
Congratulations poured in for Rajinikanth minutes after the news of the award broke, with #Rajinikanth among the top trends on Twitter.
Expressing his joy, fellow actor Kamal Haasan tweeted in Tamil and said Rajinikanth, who has proven than he can win over fans by appearing on the screen, deserves the award "100%".
He has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan in the past.
Rajinikanth was born on December 12, 1950, in a Maratha family in Karnataka. The actor, who started out as a bus conductor, is among the highest paid stars in India.
(With inputs from PTI)