Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth had humble beginnings and had even worked as a coolie and a bus conductor in his younger days. Starting his career with minor plays, he had phenomenal success in Tamil movies and grew up to be one of India’s greatest superstars, earning the nickname Thalaiva.
A child prodigy who was never formally educated, Shakuntala Devi became a mathematical genius earning the title of Human Computer for her exceptional calculating abilities. The Indian genius was also an astrologer and a gifted writer who authored books on maths, astrology, homosexuality in India and a crime thriller novel.
Three-time Filmfare winner Nithya Menen is a sensation in South Indian films. Initially a child actor, she later aspired to be a journalist but eventually ended up gaining accolades with her roles in films such as Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde and Mynaa. She also appeared in the web series Breathe: Into the Shadows.
The daughter of Kannada poet P. Lankesh, Gauri Lankesh began her career as a journalist for The Times of India. She also worked as an editor of Lankesh Patrike. Later, she was known for her firebrand left-wing activism against Hindutva and was eventually shot dead by three men near her Bengaluru home.
Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani is also the man behind the Indian biometric ID Aadhaar. Named to the Forbes list of India’s Richest in 2021, he also once teamed up with Ratan Tata to form Avanti Finance to help the poor get loans. He unsuccessfully contested as a Congress candidate, too.
C. N. R. Rao already had a PhD degree at age 24 and became the youngest lecturer at the IISc. The Padma Shri- and Padma Vibhushan-winning Indian chemist is best known for his research on areas such as surface chemistry, superconductivity, and nano technology. He is a self-confessed technophobe.
An Oxford graduate, Lindsay Anderson had initially launched the film magazine Lindsay Anderson. He later became a celebrated director and even won an Academy Award for the documentary Thursday’s Children. A pioneer of the Free Cinema and the British New Wave movements, he also acted in minor roles.
Lakshmi Gopalaswamy is an Indian classical dancer and actress. Best known for her work in Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam films, Gopalaswamy has won many prestigious awards like Kerala State Film Awards, Karnataka State Film Awards, and Filmfare Awards South. An exponent of Bharatanatyam, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy has also appeared on TV as a judge for a dance show titled Thakadhimi.