Rajinikanth (born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad) is the Tamil mega star from 70s till present, and one of the highest earning actors in Asia who has also worked in Hindi films. Born on 12 December 1950 in Bangalore, 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 the Tamil drama 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 matinée idol status in the popular culture of Tamil Nadu. His unique acting style is characterized by a trademark gesture: flipping a cigarette in the air and catching it in his mouth. His dark skin and heavy-lidded eyes have made him the hero of the lower classes. In 1978, Rajinikanth went on to star in 20 different films across Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. His filmography of hit films include films like Baasha, Andulla Rajnikanth, Enthiran, Chandramukhi, Sivaji, Padaiyappa, Bairavi, Muthu, Baba, Billa, Mullum Mallarum, Ninaithale Inikkum , Sri Raghavendrar and Annamalai amongst others. After earning ₹26 crore (equivalent to ₹43 crore or US$6.5 million in 2015) for his role in Sivaji (2007), he was the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan at the time. While working in other regional film industries of India, Rajinikanth has also appeared in the cinemas of other nations, including that of the United States. As of 2014, Rajinikanth has won six Tamil Nadu State Film Awards—four Best Actor Awards and two Special Awards for Best Actor—and a Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award. In addition to acting, he has also worked as a producer and screenwriter. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 2000. At the 45th International Film Festival of India (2014), he was conferred with the "Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year".