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From Rs.390 to Rs.3.5 Crores. Ajith’s journey of hardship, from nowhere to stardom!!
In an industry of glamour and hype, this is the story of a man who made it big without a godfather. He comes across as the ultimate fighter and no wonder he is called the Ultimate Star. Yes, we are talking about Ajith Kumar aka Thala. Today (May 1) is his birthday and team behindwoods joins his family, friends and thousands of his fans to wish him.
His journey so far is testimony to what resilience can achieve. It is also an indicator of the possible pitfalls. Born into a multiethnic family, his mother is a Sindhi and father Malayalee, Ajith dropped out of school early and took to fixing up automobiles. It was there that he picked up the penchant for roaring engines. He became a keen bike racer. He dabbled in small businesses before trying out modeling to make good use of his handsome looks.
His first film was in 1992 in Telugu titled Prema Pustagam which was a runaway hit. In Tamil, he made his debut in Amaravathi, for which he was paid a paltry Rs. 390! His next film was Pavitra which came after a gap of 17 months as he was recuperating from a racing injury. With these two films, Ajith came to be recognized as the romantic hero of the next generation. In an industry where a celebrity father or producer would mean an easy passport to stardom, Ajith built up his reputation single-handedly from scratch. That is also the reason why he is loved despite some forgettable snipes in the media.
In 1995 came Aasai and it changed his destiny. The film which was directed by Vasanth also had mind-blowing performance by Prakashraj. With Aasai, Ajith became established as the pining lover who could rough up the baddies. The film ran for 210 days and offers began to pour. He followed it up in 1996 with Kadhal Kottai. Directed by Agathiyan, this gentle romance became a runaway hit and fetched a National award for direction. Ajith had surely arrived. Between 1996 and 1998, came a string of films like Amarkalam, Uyirodu uyiraga, Ullasam, Kadhal mannan, Rettai jadai vayasu and Aval varuvala. Simran was his pair in Aval varuvala. All these films did well and brought him a good name. But he was also hounded by constant media attention about his health problems and his on and off affair with actress Heera. When she walked out on him, he went into a depression.
He strode out with Unnai thedi and Vaali. Vaali, which marked the directorial debut of S.J. Suryah was the unconventional story of a man lusting for his unsuspecting younger sibling’s wife, played by Simran. Ajith did wonderfully as the two brothers. The film ran for packed houses for 270 days! Anandha poongatrey, Mugavari and Poovellam un vasam were interesting films.
Ajith moved on to being the action hero with Dheena, Citizen, Red and Villain. The fact that these films were being released in more and more theatres especially in rural areas and that the distributors were happy that they could recover a major portion in the opening week, brought him the nickname, King of opening. He has worked in guest roles in many films mainly to help out young directors. The audio rights of one of his films, Kandukondein kandukondein, were sold for 2.5 crores – an unbeaten record so far!
Yet there were some flip instances to what fame and fortune could do to a perfectly simple man. He started a long running war of words with another young hero and in the process antagonized several seniors in the industry. Many felt that Ajith had probably acquired a bloated ego to make up for professional failures like Jana. He also refused to do films and instead decided to take up Formula 3 racing. After finding reasonable success on the track, he quit when he met with a near-fatal accident. He came back with Anjaneya and Ji, but both failed.
He then set about with the task of making up for lost time and regaining his place in the industry. His first comeback film, Paramasivan, released for Pongal this year has been declared a hit. His other release, Tirupathi, has been doing moderately well. He has shed a lot of weight and looks much more dashing than ever.
He met his beautiful wife, Shalini, while working with her in Amarkalam. She is the perfect anchor for the temperamental Ajith and has been a steadying influence. Ajith is committed to social causes especially environmental protection. He has converted his nearly 60000 fans associations into narpani mandrams. All the members regularly carry out socially relevant activities like planting trees, cleaning slums or relief activities during calamities like tsunami, floods etc.
Ajith is a sizzling hero on screen. Yet, off it he remains a simple and accessible man who adores his family and likes to keep his privacy. He is also a concerned environmentalist and does his bit for the cause.

Happy Birthday man, may you do many more films and keep us entertained!
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