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Actor, writer, producer, director, singer… The versatile Dhanush- Cinema express

About seven years ago, I couldn't stand my face: Dhanush

Actor, writer, producer, director, singer… the versatile artiste discusses his career choices in this uninhibited conversation with CE

Published: 18th August 2017

Dhanush greets me with a warm smile that’s oddly reminiscent of Rajinikanth. I tell him as much. “People sometimes tell me I emulate him. So what? He’s a phenomenon, and I meet him regularly,” he says. Excerpts from a chat with the actor at his office in Nungambakkam:

You didn’t just co-produce VIP-2. You also wrote the story and dialogues.

We knew success wouldn’t be easy for the sequel, thanks to the hype VIP created. It’s hard to write a sequel, but there were positive vibes ever since we started this project. I was looking for an interesting element that would surprise the audience. I knew it had to connect to the original story. It had to include the same characters. Eventually, I finished writing in 15 days.

Tell us about your writing process.

I mainly try not to be repetitive. I try to keep things simple. When it comes to a story, I don’t think too much. I write, and the process takes me further. I think the stories are few, but the screenplays… they can really do wonders. VIP is a story told many times, but the last 20 minutes, I thought, was brilliant.

It must have felt odd not to get to direct a film you wrote?

It is tough, yes, because I need to understand that I am just an actor.

Do you have more scripts on hand?

(Smiles) Three fully completed bound scripts.

How did you deal with VIP 2 getting mixed reviews?

Audience’s is the biggest verdict. The reviews didn’t really help, but I could see that family audiences were lapping it up. The reviews were mainly against the film, but I have no problem with that. They all raved about Pa Paandi, and if I can accept that, I should accept this.

‘Comedy is perhaps the hardest part of being an actor. But these days, I find it comes to me quite naturally. I didn’t even know I had comedy in me till I did Thiruvilaiyaadal Aarambam.’

How do you suppose you have managed to attract such fan following?

About seven years ago, I couldn't stand my face. Till today, I don’t know what clicked. Perhaps the audience feels that I represent our boys on screen? I don’t know. I don’t want to question my blessing. Not everybody gets to do what they love.

You aren't doing dark films like Mayakkam Enna anymore.

When I do such films, I get affected, and others around me do too. After Mayakkam Enna, I became aggressive. I’m not a method actor. So I don’t really know where to draw the line. I took my character home. Till I develop the maturity needed to handle such things, I think I’ll stay away from such films. But hey, I do want to do them eventually.

Rapid fire 

Another film with Selvaraghavan?
I’m a nobody without him. We'll collaborate soon.

Is Pudhupettai 2 on?
It will happen, but not immediately.

A character close to heart
I love being Maari. It’s the toughest role I've played.

On Enai Noki Paayum Thota
Gautham has made me look stylish on screen. For the first time, I felt good about myself.

Dream collaboration
I want to direct Rajinikanth sir. Or at least, share screen space with him. 

Do you choose your scripts differently based on whether you are an actor or producer?

Absolutely! As an actor, the audience expects certain things from me. But as a producer, I am answerable to nobody. I can make films like Kaaka Muttai, Visaranai and Amma Kanakku. As a producer, I want to take Tamil films to an international level.

You’ve now been part of Tamil, Hindi and English cinema.

I've even had offers from French cinema, but I am not at all sure that’s a good idea for me. English is fine, but other languages… Well, that’s really at their risk. (Laughs)

‘My Hollywood debut, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, will get released next year. If I speak about that now, I won't have anything to say next year.’

Now that you’ve directed a Tamil film, perhaps there is a plan to make a Hindi film sometime?

I read news somewhere that I had purchased the remake rights of Barfi. In fact, Barfi’s team called to congratulate me. I told them that I hadn’t even got it. Also, I am not comfortable with the idea of remakes. I stopped that after Uthama Puthiran. Unoriginal ideas irk me.

Does criticism on social media irk you too?

I am too busy to let it affect me. I think good and bad are everywhere, and I choose to see only the good.

Drawbacks of the job

‘Promotions are the toughest part of doing a film. You need a lot of patience to say the same thing over and over again. In Bollywood, they're used to doing this.’

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