The Tamil film industry would barely have known it was the start of a new era in 2002, when Dhanush made his acting debut in Thulluvadho Ilamai. He managed to get a Filmfare nomination and garner public attention for Kadhal Kondein with the same team just a year later, carving out a space for himself.
DT Next takes a look at some of his career-best performances on his birthday.
For this film by Selvaraghavan, Dhanush played the role of a young boy turning into a gangster and later a politician in Kokki Kumar, a character which gained cult status over the years. The character depicted an interplay of politics and violence, offering a perspective on how different India would be without Gandhian principles, as a character reveals at the tail end of the movie.
Directed by Vetrimaaran, Polladhavan poses an object in the middle of a conflict, a Bajaj Pulsar. Prabhu, played by Dhanush, dealt with the life and struggles of a boy growing up in a middle-income family, capturing the imagination of the public through his bike. He received his first Vijay Awards nomination in 2007 for this performance.
Dhanush, who had a solid fan base in Tamil Nadu through his earlier movies, gained pan-Indian appreciation for this movie which saw the Polladhavan team reunite. Aadukalam went on to grab six national awards, where Dhanush was adjudged the Best actor. Like a lot of his films, Dhanush’s character tries to portray the cultural intricacies in the region, while giving it a pan-Indian context.
Teaming up with Vetrimaaran again in Asuran, Dhanush played the lead role of Sivasamy, and stressed on the importance of agitation through education with a non-conventional approach. Even though it received mixed responses, the Dhanush-Vetrimaaran combo was lauded across the country, with both of them winning National awards. The movie was based on Poomani’s novel Vekkai and resembled the events which happened at Kilvenmani in 1968.
After the critically acclaimed Pariyerum Perumal, Mari Selvaraj decided to give the titular role of the film to Dhanush. Unlike in mythology, we see a Karnan fighting for his rights and reclaiming spaces which are denied instead of compromises and sacrifices. Donning lungi and sword in a horse, Karnan tries to subvert the stereotype of the typical hero in mainstream cinema. In the end, we see a wall painting indicating the role played by Dhanush is not limited to just a single person, but to a whole community.