Enigmatic likability

Enigmatic likability

national recognition

understated Dhanush has earned the sobriquet of a ‘desi’ Bruce Lee.

Tamil cinema or Kollywood as it is commonly called, had plenty to rejoice when the National Film Awards were announced in New Delhi recently. Fourteen awards came its way, an achievement unparalleled in the annals of its history. The lion’s share of these awards went to a simple unpretentious film, Aadukalam (Playing field), set in a rural milieu, which won awards for the Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Choreography, Editing and a Jury Special Mention for the Sri Lankan poet-turned-actor Jayabalan.

The acting honours were shared by Dhanush, one of the most popular actors in Tamil cinema, and the mimicry artiste -turned-comedian-turned-character actor, Salim Kumar. Dhanush, with his unassuming performance of a cocky, happy-go-lucky village youth, whose life revolved around cockfights and wooing the fairest damsel, raised a few laughs, and in a nutshell, breezed through his role. Perhaps, it was the naïve innocence of the character named K P Karuppu and the actor’s brilliant portrayal that impressed the jury and tilted the scales in his favour.

Dhanush, whose father Kasturi Raja and brother Selvaraghavan are both acclaimed directors, is the elder son-in-law of superstar Rajinikanth. It was his brother who brought him into the world of arc lights with the rather lackluster film Thulluvatho Ilamai. Dark complexioned and endowed with a boy-next-door looks,  Dhanush simply would not have fitted the bill had he been a part of the earlier generation of actors where a chocolate face and a tough physique were a hero’s pre-requisites. But times have changed and the young actor soon found his métier when his second film Kadhal Kondein’s  campus romance, directed by his brother Selvaraghavan, hit the bull’s eye. The actor,  who had set his eyes on a career as a hero, made a bold decision to enact a role which had a distinct negative shade. This role could rank as one of the toughest that Dhanush has essayed in his career and the promise that he displayed marked him out as an actor who could be relied on to play diverse roles.
 Yet, like any other actor, Dhanush too has faced several ups and downs in his short but eventful career. There were duds like Pudukottaiyilirunthu Saravanan Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram (a remake of Shivarajkumar’s Kannada hit Jogi) and his brother’s Pudupettai, all of which bit the dust. The breezy dance number in Thiruda Thirudi, shot in Kolar Gold Fields when the actor was reportedly unwell, turned out to be a chart-topper and resurrected the actor’s career.

Since then, Dhanush has struck a purple patch with a string of hits like Thiruvilayadal Arambam, Pollathavan (with Ramya as the female lead), Yaaradi Nee Mohini and Uthamaputran down to Adukalam.

Queering the pitch somewhat enroute was the film Mappillai, a remake of  yesteryear’s hit of the same name where Rajnikanth and Sriviidya set the screen on fire with their verbal duels. Dhanush and Manisha Koirala, who played his belligerent mother-in-law, were hardly a patch on the original adversaries and the film was panned by the critics. Even the comely Hansika Motwani, who was paired opposite Dhanush, could not salvage the film.

It was while doing veteran cinematographer director Balu Mahendra’s Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam that Dhanush first met Balu’s assistant director Vetrimaran and the duo struck a friendship, which blossomed further with two of their films together — Pollathavan and Adukalam — turning out to be super duper hits.

Dhanush’s character in Pollathavan had similar shades to the original role played by Rajinikanth, but Dhanush took care not to repeat any of the mannerisms  that characterised the former’s performance.

Dhanush, for one, has never aped any actor and is known for his distinct style. Although lean as a beanstalk, the actor packs a powerful punch and has also earned the sobriquet of a desi Bruce Lee. The National Award, which has come as a shot in the arm for the actor, will certainly  take his career to greater heights.

Dhanush has a number of projects lined up, including Venghai to be directed by Hari, Erandaam Ulagam with Selvaraghavan, and Kadhal Vasamaagi.

Dhanush has never been a part of the rat race and having tasted failure, he is quite choosy about his projects. This certainly augurs well for his future. The shy and reticent actor whose fan base keeps growing with every film is all set to blaze a new trail in Tamil cinema.