New Delhi: Superstar Rajinikanth, who on Monday received the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award at the National Film Awards ceremony here, dedicated the honour to his mentor and late film director K Balanchander.
The actor, a matinee idol for ages and popularly called Thalaivar' (leader in Tamil) was bestowed with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Indian cinema's highest honour for an artiste, for the year 2019.
In his acceptance speech, Rajinikanth also 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, I thank my brother Sathyanarayana Rao, he is a father figure in my life, for giving me great values...
"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 70-year-old star said at the National Film Awards ceremony at Vigyan Bhavan here.
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.
Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi and Chief Minister M K Stalin on Monday congratulated Superstar Rajinikanth on him being conferred the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
Ravi, in his message to the actor said besides his stupendous contribution to the Indian cinema, he has inspired the youth of the country through his exemplary conduct in professional, public and personal life.
"I, on behalf of fellow citizens of India and my behalf, congratulate you on you being decorated with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest and the rarest recognition for outstanding contribution to the Indian cinema. It is a day of immense joy for all cine lovers," the Governor said.
"My best wishes and prayers for your long and healthy life," he added.
Chief Minister Stalin, extending his best wishes, hailed him as the 'sun' of the film industry. "My greetings to you to take the Tamil film industry to the next level and bag many global level awards," the Chief Minister tweeted, who also conveyed his best wishes to Rajinikanth over phone.
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.
Last December, Rajinikanth had shelved plans to make a foray into electoral politics. Making a U-turn, the superstar had announced he will not enter politics in view of his frail health....