Tamil Features

The New ‘Karnan’ Of Kollywood’: On His Birthday We Trace Dhanush’s Career, From ‘Thulluvadho Ilamai’ To ‘Asuran’

Actor-producer-director-singer-lyricist Dhanush celebrates his birthday today. Though he had an easy way into the industry or at least that’s how claims go, lasting and emerging higher than many of his contemporaries was not a piece of cake for the star. From people not taking him seriously over his looks, acting, dance, and almost anything that was required to fit the bill of an actor to becoming one of the most sought after actors for his captivating expressions, style and swagger, and the ability to get into the skin of any character offered to him, the star is truly an inspiration not just for the film industry but for people from all walks of life.

Join Silverscreen India on the actor’s 37th birthday, as we trace his outstanding journey, taking a small trip down the memory lane.

Venkatesh Prabhu Kasthoori Raja, popularly known by his stage name Dhanush K Raja begun his acting career at the age of 20 fresh off school with his father’s film Thulluvadho Ilamai, a coming-of-age film that pulled crowds to the theatre turning out to be a huge success, a rare phenomenon for a debutant.

But the crowds flocked in neither for the star nor for the supporting cast, but for the songs and the content they dealt with. While he enjoyed the commercial success, he had to face the bane of severe criticism for his looks and physique. He did not flinch and worked on himself to become a better actor.

They say, in times of test, family is the best. Dhanush’s brother Selvaraghavan looked over all the criticism and made him take up the challenging role of a psychologically disturbed boy in his debut film Kadhal Kondein. The film proved well not only for Dhanush but for the entire team, with critical acclaim and profits pouring in. One can say, it was a breakthrough for the actor in the industry.

The successful Dhanush-Selvaraghavan pair had its foundation laid here with audiences eagerly awaiting the duo’s next film given Selva’s knack of extracting the best from Dhanush. And then came Pudhupettai (2006), one of the best gangster filmd in Indian cinema that showcased a different dimension of Dhanush. It opened up avenues for the actor and brought him good commercial films as well as content-oriented stories. It was with Pudhupettai that the actor actually tasted the true fruits of success in the real sense. Their third collaboration Mayakkam Enna (2011) was also widely appreciated for its depth and emotional core.

Oops! The sibling duo got me slightly digressing from the lane, making me skip a whole bunch of films that played a great part in Dhanush’s career. So let’s just quickly rush past them.

Post Kadhal Kondein, the actor did not see much success but was experimenting with roles constantly. While Thiruda Thirudi and Devathaiyai Kanden were the only highs post his second film, the rest of the films at that time fared below average. Not paying too much heed to the commercial aspect, he looked upon these films as an opportunity to chisel himself to suit characters. And that’s when arrived Pudhupettai.


When audiences had come to the conclusion that only Selvaraghavan could bring out the best in Dhanush, Vetrimaaran walked in He brought to Tamil cinema Polladhavan, a story about a man and his coveted bike. You could say the fanbase for the star which stands at millions today began slowly after this film.

And this collaboration has lasted years with Aadukalam and Vada Chennai until the recent Asuran for which fans and audiences are anticipating a National Award for the duo. I would say that Dhanush is definitely Vetrimaaran’s actor.

After Polladhavan, Dhanush’s career choices inclined towards commercial films, and the graph turned wavy accordingly. With a few hits, few flops, and a maximum of break-even films with mixed reviews, he steadily progressed. Boy-next-door roles in Kutty and Uthama Puthiran, a mix of rural and urban roles with Mappillai and Venghai and emotionally backed in 3 and Maryan. He also tried roles that were completely out of the routine like Naiyaandi and Seedan, but they fell through, offering him the least.

A major boost in his career came with his 25th film, Velaiyilla Pattathari that resonated with engineering graduates. It spoke of the harsh reality of denied opportunities for engineers despite earning a degree. It had the perfect package of entertainment and content and worked wonders for the star.

While several films in his lineup had entertained audiences and fans, there wasn’t a film that was a sheer dedication to audiences with elements that would play to the gallery. There wasn’t a film that announced his arrival into the category of mass heroes who would have excess confetti pouring and party poppers popping all over the place. To fulfill this shortcoming came Maari, a film that not only created the larger-than-life image but also brought the handlebar moustache into trend once again. Oh, and not to forget the shades!

Another important film in his career was the most delayed Enai Noki Paayum Thota which jumped the several planned release dates and finally hit screens in November 2019. While it did not keep up to the expectations of fans, an urbane Dhanush was showcased after long, providing relief to audiences who had been witnessing him in rugged and gritty roles for a while.

The father of two boys Yatra and Linga, married to  Aishwarya Rajinikanth, and the son-in-law of Superstar Rajinikanth, the actor has  also worked with family – with Aishwarya for her debut film 3 and Soundarya Rajinikanth, his sister-in-law for the sequel to Velaiyilla Pattathari. (We’re yet to witness the Rajini-Dhanush combo on screen.)

Meanwhile, the actor was approached to make his Bollywood debut with Aanand L Rai‘s Raanjhanaa which was also dubbed in Tamil as Ambikapathy. Though not a top grosser, the film brought him several fans in the North with some critics appreciating the film only for Dhanush’s performance. And it didn’t just stop there. He was then offered a role to act alongside Amitabh Bachchan right after Raanjhanaa for Shamitabh. The film was a satirical drama with a unique concept at its core. Though it failed at the box office, it was critically acclaimed.

Dhanush went on to feature in an international film, in a first – The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir.

Here’s a peep into all of his other contributions to the film industry: As a singer, his work dates back to 2004 with the popular ‘Naattu Sarakku’ song from his Pudhukottaiyilirundhu Saravanan to the recent melodious ‘Kaathodu Kaathanen’ from GV Prakash starrer Jail. He has rendered songs in Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.

Whereas, his journey as a poet-u (lyricist) began only in 2011 for Mayakkam Enna and is still progressing. His lyrics shot to fame with ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’ becoming a global sensation back in 2012 for its simple yet catchy lyrics.


He turned producer along with his wife Aishwarya and established Wunderbar films in 2010, bankrolling and distributing about 19 films. He forayed into direction with Raj Kiran and Revathi starrer Pa Paandi in 2017 which was also bankrolled by his home banner. He also played the younger version of Raj Kiran in the film.

The actor has 3 National Awards, 8 Filmfare Awards, 5 Vikatan Awards, and 13 SIIMA awards.


The actor has worked with almost every top actress in the South and few up North including Nayanthara, Sneha, Trisha Krishnan, Tamannaah Bhatia, Keerthy Suresh, Amala Paul, Taapsee Pannu, Kajal Aggarwal, Nazriya Nazim, Hansika Motwani, Shruti Haasan, Samantha Akkineni, Amy Jackson, Aishwarya Rajesh, Sonam Kapoor, Kajol Ajay Devgn, Akshara Haasan, and Madonna Sebastian. He has also worked with actors like Sivakarthikeyan for a cameo in Ethir Neechal while also bankrolling the Vijay Sethupathi starrer Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, and even the Tovino Thomas starrer Tharangam in Malayalam.

He also introduced composer-singer Anirudh Ravichander through his romantic-drama 3.

We wish the star a very happy birthday!