SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth was the first dark-skinned leading man in Tamil cinema. He is also a significant anomaly in contemporary global media as it is an example of trans-national market penetration with a very local and idiomatic brand. In the late 1990s Rajinikanth's film Muthu (Dancing Maharaja) became a runaway box-office success. Rajinikanth has since become one of the highest paid actors in Asia. He is a renowned philanthropist and an influential figure in Tamil Nadu public life. He is respectfully referred to as Thalaiva or 'leader'. Rajinikanth is pictured here as he appears in the 2008 Tamil language film Kuselan in which he plays his own SUPERSTAR persona, reprising many of his movie roles including that of Annamalai. The Annamalai mountain in Tamil Nadu is an abode of Lord Sihva who is known to have appeared there as an endless column of fire.