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Happy birthday Dhanush: Here’s why VIP 2 star is ‘destiny’s golden child’

With Why This Kolaveri Di, Dhanush burst of the national consciousness and since then has reigned supreme. On his 34th birthday, a north Indian tracks his spectacular climb to superstardom.

regional movies Updated: Jul 28, 2017 13:35 IST
Nivedita Mishra
Nivedita Mishra
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Happy birthday Dhanush,Dhanush birthday,VIP 2
Dhanush, who celebrates his 34th birthday today, is busy promoting his next film VIP 2.

A carefree number from the Tamil film, 3, called Why This Kolaveri Di (Why This Killing Rage, Girl), released in 2011, suddenly catapulted actor Dhanush into national consciousness. Uploaded on YouTube, the song turned out to be a monstrous success.

What was it about half Tamil, half English song that struck a chord? Actually, a number of factors -- a catchy tune, jilted lover’s angst and vocals of a lanky guy who, we later got to know, was a popular actor in Tamil films. Soon enough, the word got around that this guy was Dhanush, son-in-law of superstar Rajinikanth.

Why This Kolaveri Di soon went viral and, with it soared the fortune of Dhanush.

Suddenly he was on every TV channel, talking about Why This Kolaveri Di, but actually spreading his charm -- India not just took note of this guy-next-door from Chennai.

Thanks to all the attention Dhanush was receiving, his films began to be discussed everywhere -- did you know Kolaveri Di is a song from his film 3? What’s more that his wife Aishwarya is the film’s director? So on and so forth.

3, of course, met with moderate success, and that was primarily due to the buzz the song had created. Dhanush, however, continued to reign supreme. So much so that Bollywood director Aanand L Rai, on a high after the success of his film, Tanu Weds Manu (2011), decided to cast Dhanush in his film, Raanjhanaa (2013). Playing a Tamil Brahmin boy Kundan Shankar from Benaras who falls in love with a local Muslim girl, Dhanush unleashed his charm on the unsuspecting pan-India audience. And he spoke in Hindi! The film was a hit and so was its star. Cast opposite Sonam Kapoor and Abhay Deol, Dhanush held his own in an author-backed role. Playing a guy whose affection never gets reciprocated, Dhanush did a fine job of stealing public sympathy.

Dhanush played the role of a Benarasi boy in love with Sonam Kapoor’s character in Raanjhanaa to perfection.

In 2015, Dhanush returned to do another Bollywood film Shamitabh, alongside big names like Amitabh Bachchan. Directed by R Balki who had delivered not one but two grand successes (Cheeni Kum and Paa), Shamitabh was publicized in a major way. Sadly, the film tanked on release. However, by now, Dhanush was an established pan-India star. Any move he made, no media ignored.

Back in Chennai, his Midas touch remained intact. Starting 2014, anything he touched seemed to turn into gold. What’s more his success came not only as an actor, but as a producer and director as well. But first let’s talk about his acting. In 2015, came Velaiyilla Pattathari (Unemployed Graduate), his 25th film, which opened to positive reviews and turned out to be a box office success as well. Playing an engineer without a job and the odds he must face, Dhanush was in his elements. The same year, came another hit film, Anegan, which was reincarnation drama. Maari (Rain), an action comedy, released the same day and went on to be a hit as well.

Anegan starred Dhanush and Amyra Dastur in the lead roles.

2015’s Thanga Magan, a family drama about an ideal son, too met with success. Come 2016, he followed up the previous year’s successes with Thoradi (The Train), which hit the bull’s eye.

But to talk of Dhanush only in acting terms would be a huge understatement. Around 2015, his Wunderbar Films stepped up its success mantra. Marking a departure from his ‘popular’ acting choices, Dhanush’s productions (ones that didn’t star him) were willing to pick bold subjects, often told with unflinching reality. Visaaranai (Interrogation; 2015), written and directed by Vetrimaran, charmed critics. The film went to all major film festivals worldwide, premiering in the Orrizonti (Horizons) section of the 72nd Venice Film Festival.

Vetrimaaran's Visaaranai is based on a book called Lock Up by Coimbatore-based autorickshaw driver Chandra Kumar.

Visaaranai is based on writer M Chandrakumar’s novel Lock Up. It is a violent take on police brutality and corruption that sees innocent men losing their lives. At the 63rd National Film Awards, the film picked up three awards -- Best Feature Film in Tamil, Best Supporting Actor and Best Editing. A huge fillip for Wunderbar Films, this film was also India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

In 2015, Dhanush produced yet another winner -- Kaaka Muttai (Crow Eggs). With no big names, the film on slum children in Chennai longing for a pizza and what they do to get it, went on to win another lot of National Awards -- Best Children’s Film and Best Child Artist (Ramesh and Vignesh).

Kaaka Muttai, Dhanush production, was directed by wedding photographer-turned-director M Manikandan. ( KakkaMuttai/Facebook )

This year, Dhanush debuted as a director with Pa Paandi, comedy-drama about life of an ex-stuntmaster in Tamil cinema, much after his best years are behind him. By now, Dhanush had mastered the art of winning, as this film too went on to be a success.

As with all positive things, some bad news always follows.

2017 also saw Dhanush being dragged into needless controversies, often not of his making. In January this year, Tamil playback singer and RJ Suchitra Karthik made headlines when she allegedly mentioned that Dhanush’s gang had attacked her but later blamed everything on unknown hackers. Suchitra later shocked Kollywood again by revealing private pictures of Dhanush, Hansika Motwani, Anirudh Ravichander, Andrea Jeremiah and Dhivyadharshini, which she again deleted. While no one really took her seriously, it did cause a fair deal of embarrassment to the actor.

Pa Paandi starred yesteryear actors Rajkiran and Revathi as the main leads.

But more serious was his legal tangle with an elder Tamil couple. In a bizarre case -- R Kathiresan, 65, and his 53-year-old wife Meenakshi -- had moved the court stating that Dhanush is their son. Claiming him to be their third son, the couple had also sought a monthly maintenance of Rs 65,000 saying they were very poor despite having a wealthy son.

In April, however, Madras high court dismissed the paternity suit.

Kajol, ) Dhanush and Soundarya Rajnikanth promote VIP 2 in Mumbai on July 26, 2017. ( AFP )

Dhanush has just completed working on his first Hollywood production, The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir. The actor is neck deep in work with promotions of his next film, VIP 2, directed by his sister-in-law Soundarya Rajinikanth. The film also stars Bollywood diva Kajol.

On his 34th birthday, here’s wishing him all the best.

The writer tweets @mniveditatweets

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First Published: Jul 28, 2017 13:27 IST