The extraordinary journey of Dhanush

Dhanush, who had humble beginnings, has today scaled great heights and is rated as a top star not only across industries in India but across countries too, writes Manigandan K R


Actor Dhanush has grown from strength to strength and has now become a truly international star. His last major release was the Hollywood film, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir. Interestingly, the star cast of the film was drawn from different countries around the world. The man, who had humble beginnings, has today scaled greater heights and is rated as a top star not only across industries in India but across countries too. He opens up on a number of topics that are close to his heart, ranging from the time he longed for a toy car but was unable to buy one, to now owning a Rolls Royce, to handling success and failure.  

Tell us about the experience of working on the Hollywood film, ‘The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir’?

It was a learning experience. There was so much to learn and unlearn. It was an opportunity to explore new territory and new things. Fakir had different actors from different countries. When you work with different technicians from different countries, you get to see their approach to acting and their respective crafts. It gave me an opportunity to learn a lot. In fact, it feels like having gone to a school and returned. The only difference between an actual school and this one is that in school, you simply learn. Here, one had to unlearn and then learn.

For an Indian actor, getting to play the lead in a Hollywood film is a dream offer. You have received this offer within such a short span of your career. Your thoughts…

Right from my first film, everything has happened of its own accord. I have never planned any of my projects. I believe that invisible energy is what has planned all of these for me. Be it Thulluvatho Illamai, Kaadhal Konden, Balu Mahendra sir’s Adhu Oru Kanaa Kalam, Pudhupettai, Polladhavan, Aadukalam, Mayakkam Enna, Raanjaanah, Vada Chennai or be it the recently released Fakir, all of these happened to me. I would be lying if I said that I planned everything perfectly and made it happen. 

Have you taken up any other offers to do foreign films?

I received a couple of offers. However, I have not taken them up. I did not agree to do one because I did not feel that I would suit that part and I had to let go of the other offer because although I liked it immensely, I could not do it because of a prior commitment.

You have worked on an international film and rubbed shoulders with foreign actors and technicians. How aware are they of our cinema?

I can say with confidence that they are keenly watching us. With the digital platforms dominating the market now, if you are talented you will be noticed for sure. What I can assure you is that they are definitely watching us. That is because the Indian and Chinese markets are the only ones that are still managing to sustain in theatricals. Be it in Europe or in America, theatricals have come down by a considerable margin. It is more like a digital world there. It is still there but it is for biggies like Avengers. Making 100 crores or 200 crores is happening only in the Indian market while Chinese films are making 2,000 crores. This may be because of the population. Therefore, they are watching both markets keenly and are definitely looking to please both audiences.

In your 17-year career, you have done both quality offbeat films and also proper commercial films. Which was more satisfying?

There are times when we think that a particular film has a lot of scope for us to perform. But when you actually do the film, you end up realising that it wasn’t challenging at all. You would have finished it very easily. Sometimes, you would be under the impression, ‘This is a proper commercial masala film. What scope will it have to offer me?’ But then, when you begin working on it, you realise that it is very challenging. For instance, I found playing Maari more difficult and challenging than playing Vada Chennai’s Anbu. That is because Anbu’s character is just the same from the beginning till the end. He is in a grey zone but he is not confused. He is very clear. However, Maari’s character is like walking on a knife’s edge. Actually, it is impossible to define his character. He is ruthless. So, sometimes I would get more satisfaction doing off-beat films, sometimes, I would get satisfaction doing a commercial film.

What is the status of the second part of ‘Vada Chennai’?

The script is bound and ready. We have to start shooting. In fact, we already have around 25 to 30 minutes footage of the film with us. All the actors who are a part of the film, including me, are eager to shoot for this film. But director Vetrimaran needed a break from this Vada Chennai world. Therefore, we chose to work on Asuran before returning to Vada Chennai 2.

You mentioned that at one point in your childhood, your life’s ambition was to own a remote-controlled toy car but then you couldn’t afford it because you were poor. Tell us a little more about that dream…

There is a phrase in Tamil that goes, Kodumai, Kodumai, Ilamaiyil varumai’ meaning the most painful thing is suffering in poverty when one is young. For all practical reasons, my entire childhood was spent like that.  That was a time period when I would long for things that my neighbours’ kids possessed. My brother Selvaraghavan would use the cylindrical-shaped cardboard that one usually finds inside a ball of twine and attach it with bottle caps to make toy cars out of them. He would make them for himself. After he left, I would play with these cars. That was the biggest toy that we could afford. But my neighbours’ kids would have fancy toys and I would long for one of those toys. Eventually, when you grow up and can afford it, you lose interest in it.

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