Dhanush is a slight man, and unburdened by the obligatory glorificatory prefix to his title. Within the Tamil movie trade, Vijay is Thalapathy (The Commander); Ajith, Thala (The Headman); Kamal Haasan, Ulaganayagan (The World Hero); and naturally the ‘Celebrity’ is Rajinikanth. The absence of any such billing maybe offers Dhanush the rate required to flee the picture entice and take up worldwide initiatives reminiscent of The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir (TEJF).
Primarily based on French novelist Romain Puertolas’ bestseller The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Received Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, and directed by Ken Scott, a Canadian filmmaker, the English-French language manufacturing releases in India and different key markets such because the U.S. and the U.Ok. this Friday. Since its France launch final 12 months, it has even gained a few awards within the worldwide competition circuit.
By any measure, Dhanush’s industrial cachet isn’t anyplace near that of Tamil A-listers reminiscent of Vijay or Ajith. Since his 2002 debut as a gawky teenager in Thulluvadho Ilamai, a coming-of-age movie directed by his father Kasthuri Raja, Dhanush has starred in about 40 movies. That’s considerably greater than Ajith (25) and Vijay (34) throughout the identical interval. Dhanush’s decrease pay packet might have helped him to be as prolific. The bigger variety of movies additionally appears to have allowed him to take higher dangers when it comes to the roles he takes up. His reed-thin, gangly physique, darkish pores and skin and Everyman appears to be like just about rule out syrupy romance or all-out motion. Having seen him as Venkatesh Prabhu (his given title), and grown up in the identical Chennai neighbourhood, with my child brother even attending the identical after-school tuition courses as him, the on-screen Dhanush appeared scarcely totally different.
Dhanush in a nonetheless from ‘Aadukalam’.
His second movie, Kaadhal Kondein (2003), a psychological thriller directed by his elder brother, provided firmer proof of his performing chops. Then adopted a sequence of what in Bollywood was as soon as categorized as “tapori” movies; Dhanush as a happy-go-lucky wastrel who is commonly unworthy of the heroine’s on the spot romantic reciprocity or the respect of his relations, however with endless reserves of smarts and a coronary heart of gold, one way or the other manages to win each in life and love. Whereas he did sometimes thulp the villains Bruce Lee-like, brains needed to rule over brawn in any script for Dhanush motion pictures. After all, there have been some exceptions. Regardless of managing to earn a university diploma in some movies, a street-smart underdog is what he remained.
Dhanush is maybe the one mainstream Tamil hero in latest reminiscence by no means to have performed the position of a policeman or an Military man. A hero’s perceived unsuitability for such roles will be fairly liberating, particularly within the boxed-in Tamil trade.
A number of movies after his debut got here the chance to work with acclaimed director Balu Mahendra in Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam. By 2005, Mahendra wasn’t fairly the artistic powerhouse he was once, however being handpicked by him burnished Dhanush’s credentials as a critical actor. Although the movie bombed, it paved the way in which for a worthwhile partnership with Vetrimaaran, a longtime protégé of Mahendra. The 2011 movie Aadukalam, directed by Vetrimaaran, starring Dhanush as a cockfighting coach, gained six nationwide awards, together with greatest actor.
The 2 have collaborated continuously, whilst producers for movies such because the acclaimed Kaaka Muttai (2015). In 2018, Vada Chennai, a gangster thriller, with the Dhanush-Vetrimaaran duo, once more struck gold. The partnership with Vetrimaaran helped break the stereotype of Dhanush in flare-bottom acid wash denims or ill-fitting fits (when he made it huge in opposition to all odds).
Measured forays into Bollywood, that none of his contemporaries within the Tamil trade had an urge for food for, adopted the success of Aadukalam. Leaving the house turf continues to be a punt too huge for many huge heroes in Tamil. Raanjhanaa (2013) was reasonably profitable however the constructive critiques proved that Dhanush may do the heavy lifting even in a Hindi movie.
A nonetheless from ‘Vada Chennai’.
R. Balki’s Shamitabh (2015) was a field workplace dud however stays, within the opinion of this author, considered one of his higher performances. Loosely based mostly on the actual story of actor ‘Silver Jubilee’ Mohan and his on-screen voice, that of singer S.N. Surendhar, that Tamil movie followers are properly acquainted with, Dhanush taking part in a mute actor not solely managed to carry a candle to co-star Amitabh Bachchan, about 40 years his senior, however in lots of scenes was so incandescent as to just about steal the present.
For a boy who as soon as aspired to be a chef, Dhanush hasn’t accomplished too badly with a profession in cinema. When not performing, Dhanush tries his hand at making brief movies, dwelling as much as the maxim that the easiest way to study filmmaking is by making a movie. In 2017, he turned director with one other critically acclaimed movie, Pa Pandi. His makes an attempt at singing and lyric writing — the viral YouTube sensation ‘Kolaveri Di’ in 2012 however — haven’t been as convincing. However then, Dhanush is just 36.
TEJF might not fairly be the movie that earns him an honorific within the Tamil movie trade. Nevertheless, it may properly be the gas that powers his immense skills on a rare journey, each inside Tamil Nadu and outdoors.
The Bengaluru-based author is translator, classical music addict and fountain pen freak.