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Dhanush’s entry into Tamil Cinema was a breeze. He debuted in his father’s direction and played a typical school boy falling prey to his raging hormones. He looked like the boy your parents warn you to stay away from. He was scrawny, pencil thin and always sported an am-sorry-but-my-life-sucks look. We thought none of this is going to help him become a star. But he proved us wrong. He is still scrawny, pencil thin and sports an am-I-the-star-you-are-talking-about look. Numerous credits, son in-law to South India’s larger than life hero (it is part of his credits) and Dhanush still has his head firmly planted in his shoulders.

While heroes attach great regard to their image, this star kid has no image associated with him. He can rib tickle you with his masala entertainer Thiruvilayadal Arambam yet give a stellar performance in Aadukalam. He can portray the slumdog Kokki Kumar whose life is dark and ugly with absolutely no rays of sunshine in Pudhupettai and jump into a typical Chennai boy with his motorcycle being the love of his life in Pollathavan. Dhanush can don roles that make you squirm in your seat and yet cater to the urbane chic audience with family dramas. His success is that he is never associated with any genre. He sails from one to another effortlessly.

If Selva Raghavan made us take Dhanush seriously, Vetri Maran moulded him into a fine actor. Selva trusted Dhanush early on with Kadhal Kondein. If Dhanush looked awkward and embarrassed most of the time, Pudhupettai made this actor take to acting seriously. He really had no choice. Kokki Kumar had nothing great going in his life. Dark, ugly, generous with gory violence, this film exposed the monster hiding in humans. Dhanush evoked the inner beast for his eyes spared no remorse in slashing throats. He had a queer sense of possession to a prostitute and yet married a girl that he could only fantasize about. He was psychic and destructive. Dhanush had to explode on screen for us to take Kokki Kumar seriously. Selva crafted every reaction, chiseled every feature and Dhanush was finally a talent to scout for.

Vetri Maaran sculpted Dhanush further with stellar roles in Pollathavan  and Aadukalam. K P Karuppu was from Madurai and by the time Aadukalam hit screens the Madurai slang was beaten to death. But that did not stop its box office run. When your mentor and father figure disappoints you, the remorse is too strong to handle and you want to deny it. You want to remember the man as the kind and affectionate person who looks out for you. You are torn between reality and what you wish to be real. His struggles and despair are artfully brought out in his eyes and gestures. When an actor can make us look past his off screen personality to the role he is playing, he has achieved what he set out to conquer. For couple of hours, we were so immersed in the life of Karuppu, that we forgot who Dhanush was. That is award winning.

With the response Aadukalam received, if you thought Dhanush was going to restrain himself to top notch roles and masala pleasers, he baffles you again. Mayakkam Enna, a Selva Raghavan venture casts him as an aspiring photographer. His dream is burning in his heart and unless he satiates the passion raging inside him, he cannot appreciate the life he shares with his love. Karthik ascertains why we should all dream, there is much pain but there is also gain. If you have a rock solid partner, life can be just what you want it to be. Dhanush upped his own performance and there is no stopping this steam engine. Then came Kolaveri di… and the rest, as they say, is history.

Dhanush has transformed from a gawky teenager to a well groomed actor. His awkward silences have matured into significant pauses. While he struggled to make audiences see past his scrawny structure, he has established himself as an actor par excellence. He has proved his mettle with his fiery performances and is constantly raising the bar. People are finally sitting up to acknowledge Dhanush as an actor but even that sits lightly on his shoulder.  Maybe this is his similarity with Thalaivar, by not letting fame take the front seat; his drive is conquering great heights and shattering box office collections. Dhanush is not just another actor but the actor who defined a certain class of actors – you don’t have to have dashing looks, six packs or fair skin. Just be yourself and do your best. You will go from soup boys to super boys and nobody can deny the applause. God Bless.

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