Dhanush is an actor, producer, director, scriptwriter, lyricist and playback singer, and has seen success in the various spheres of filmmaking.

From Thulluvadho Ilamai to Maari 2 Dhanushs journey in Kollywood
Flix Kollywood Monday, January 07, 2019 - 12:30
Written by  CV Aravind

Thulluvadho Ilamai, a coming of age film directed by Kasthuri Raja based on a script by his elder son Selvaraghavan, narrated the story of six teenagers, three boys and three girls. One of these boys was played by Dhanush, the younger son of the director. The film was released in 2002 and more than 16 years down the line, Dhanush, the gawky teenager who had his eyes set on becoming a marine engineer, has metamorphosed not only into one of Kollywood’s most popular heroes, he also dons several hats. Dhanush is an actor, producer, director, scriptwriter, lyricist and playback singer, and his efforts in the various spheres of filmmaking have been largely crowned with success.

Early success

Dhanush’s passport to stardom was his second film Kadhal Kondein, which released in 2003 and was directed by Selvaraghavan. Saddled with the complex character of a physically and mentally abused young collegian who finds his saviour in a classmate who takes him under her wing, Dhanush had to reveal a wide range of emotions. Highly melodramatic, the film, which had a riveting music score by Yuvan Shankar Raja, also fared well at the box office.

The career of the actor, who has earned the sobriquet of an Indian Bruce Lee for his wiry frame and excellence in stunts, has seen its ups and downs. After his early success, he acted in films like Thiruda Thirudi, Sullan, Dreams and Parattai Endra Azhagu Sundaram, which were mindless entertainers with weak storylines. A dance number in Thiruda Thirudi, ‘Manmadha Raasa’, however caught everyone’s eye. The grapevine has it that when the dance sequence was being filmed in Kolar Gold Fields, Dhanush had run up a temperature and his movements in the fast-paced number appeared as though he was in a delirium.

Steady rise to the top

Dhanush’s collaboration with director Vetrimaaran has been mutually beneficial and though their first film together, Pollathavan, was little more than a potboiler, their second effort, Aadukalam, was a real game-changer. The film, which netted six National Awards including Best Director for Vetrimaaran and Best Actor for Dhanush, had a pastoral setting with the age-old sport of cock fighting as its nucleus. Dhanush literally breezed through the role and the National Award jury probably felt that the portrayal was au naturel fitting the character to a T.

The latest film from Vetrimaaran and Dhanush was Vada Chennai, where the star essayed the role of a carrom player who, by a quirk of fate, turns into a gangster. Dhanush had played a gangster earlier in his brother’s film Pudupettai, but the character in Vada Chennai was more fleshed out. The film also had a better run at the box office. Among Dhanush’s more successful films was Velayilla Pattadhari, where he was cast as an engineer but the sequel of the film Velayilla Pattadhari 2, in which Bollywood actor Kajol played the antagonist, received mixed reviews and a lukewarm response at the box office. While the earlier film had lensman Velraj wielding the megaphone, Dhanush’s sister-in-law Soundarya Rajinikanth handled the sequel.

Another franchise that has been repeated by Dhanush is Maari, helmed by Balaji Mohan, the story of a small-time gangster. In Maari 2, the sequel which hit the screens recently, Dhanush has hammed to the hilt but audiences have lapped up his mannerisms, dialogue delivery and body language. The film, which featured Mollywood’s latest craze Tovino Thomas as the villain, even has Dhanush mouthing a punchline that goes: “If you’re bad, I’m your dad”. In both these films, the actor portrayed the gangster with a tinge of humour, and up-and-coming comedian ‘Robot’ Shankar served as a perfect foil for the hero. Incidentally Maari 2 was released along with five other films, including the dubbed version of the big budget Kannada film KGF starring Yash, and has received mixed reviews, so its fate at the box office is keenly awaited.

The other Tamil films by Dhanush that deserve a mention are Yaaradi Nee Mohini, in which Nayanthara was cast as the heroine, and Maryan, a Bharat Bala film with Parvathy starring opposite Dhanush. The actor had to shed a lot of sweat in the latter film, a hostage drama shot extensively in a vast desert.

While Raanjhanaa, Dhanush’s first foray into Bollywood directed by Anand Rai, though mediocre had a good run, his second venture, Shamitabh, with no less an actor than Amitabh Bachchan and directed by Balki was an unmitigated disaster.

As producer and director

Wunderbar Films, his production house, has been performing exceedingly well and small budget films like Kaaka Muttai have won accolades and recognition at the national level. Two films that provided a fillip to Sivakarthikeyan’s career – Ethir Neechal and Kaakki Sattai – were produced by Wunderbar. Dhanush and Vetrimaaran also combined to produce the hard-hitting Visaranai directed by the latter, which was India’s official entry to the Oscars. The duo bankrolled Vada Chennai as well. Naanum Rowdy Dhaan with Vijay Sethupathi and Nayanthara in the main roles was another Wunderbar film. But the biggest movie produced by the banner so far has been the Rajinikanth starrer Kaala, directed by Pa Ranjith who had directed the Superstar earlier in Kabali.

The actor’s only film as director has been Pa Paandi, which narrated the story of an aging stuntman played by actor-director Raj Kiran, who had once been a benefactor to the Kasthuri Raja family. Written and produced by Dhanush, the film was embellished by the performances of the lead actor and veteran Revathi who essayed the role of his old flame. However, the film turned out to be an average grosser.

Ennai Nokki Paayum Thotta, an action thriller helmed by Gautam Vasudev Menon delayed for various reasons, is likely to be his next release. Another venture, Asuran, is on the floors and is expected to release next year. Meanwhile, he marked his presence in the international scene with the comedy The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, in which he portrayed the character of a street magician.

Despite one of his numbers ‘Why this Kolaveri di’ from his home production 3, directed by his wife Aishwarya Rajinikanth, setting YouTube on fire, Dhanush has yet to earn his spurs as a lyricist and playback singer. Purists wasted no time in ripping ‘Kolaveri’ to shreds and were unsparing in their criticism of the lyricist-singer.

Now in his 30s, it remains to be seen what other heights this talented actor will scale.