Rajinikanth (born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad; 12 December 1950) is an Indian film actor, media personality, and cultural icon. Born and raised in the Indian city of Bangalore, Rajinikanth struggled as an impoverished child. He began acting in plays while working in the Bangalore Transport Service as a bus conductor. In 1973, he joined the Madras Film Institute to pursue a diploma in acting. Following his debut in K. Balachander's National Film Award-winning Apoorva Raagangal (1975), his acting career commenced with a brief phase of portraying antagonistic characters in Tamil films. After establishing himself as a lead actor in a number of commercially successful films, he began to be referred to as a "superstar" and has since continued to hold a matinee idol status in the popular culture of South India. His mannerisms and stylised delivery of dialogue in films contribute to his mass popularity and appeal.