South superstar Rajinikanth received the nation's highest film honour Dada Saheb Phalke Award for his outstanding contribution to the world of Indian cinema. The veteran actor received a standing ovation as he was conferred with the award by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.
Rajinikanth's family, including his wife Lathaa, daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth and her husband Dhanush too were present at the event. The latter received the Best Actor award which he shares with Bollywood actor Manoj Vajpayee.
After receiving the honour, Rajinikanth thanked the central government.
"I am extremely happy to receive this most prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award. My thanks to the honourable central government. I dedicate this award to my mentor, my guru K Balachander. This moment, I remember him with great gratitude, and my brother Satyanarayan Gaikwad who's like my father who brought me up by teaching me great values, and spirituality. My friend in Karnataka, bus transport driver and my colleague Rajbahadur."
He also recalled his days of struggle.
"When I was the bus conductor, he identified the acting talent in me and encouraged me to join the cinema. All my producers, directors, co-artistes, technicians, distributors, exhibitors and the media, press and all my fans. Tamil people - without them I am no body. Jai Hind!"
In the last several decades, Rajinikanth’s films have entertained millions of fans worldwide. On August 15, 2021, he completed 45 years in the film industry. He made his acting debut with the 1975 Tamil film 'Apoorva Raagangal', directed by late K Balachander.