Superstar Dhanush is back with his next acting stint in Hindi cinema with Atrangi Re and believes the crossover of various film industries in India is a “healthy” sign for the entertainment sector in the country at large.
The two-time National Award-winning actor, best known for Tamil films such as Aadukalam, 3, Maari, Asuran, and Karnan, forayed in Bollywood with the 2013 romantic-drama Raanjhanaa, helmed by Aanand L Rai.
His performance as Kundan, an obsessive man who has unrequited love for his neighbour Zoya (Sonam Kapoor), in the film won him a lot of praise from critics and audience. He then worked alongside Amitabh Bachchan in R Balki’s 2015 satirical drama Shamitabh.
Asked to comment on how the barriers between the industries are fading, Dhanush said in an interview, “I was always against (the divide between) south and north Indian films. It is an Indian film and that is how it should always be.”
His film Asuran was recently adapted in Telugu as Narappa and starred Venkatesh. Telugu film Arjun Reddy, starring Vijay Devarakonda, was remade in Hindi as Arjun Singh with Shahid Kapoor in the lead.
Last year, Baahubali star Anushka Shetty's "Bhagamathie" saw a Bollywood adaptation in "Durgamati" with Bhumi Pednekar. The cast of SS Rajamouli's much awaited period action drama "RRR", featuring Telugu stars NTR Jr and Ram Charan, boasts of Bollywood biggies Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn.
"We are heading towards that (change) at a very rapid pace. It is very healthy. It is helping all of us with our films, actors, and creative people globally,” Dhanush added.
The actor credited his father-in-law, superstar Rajinikanth and the mammoth success of Rajamouli's two-part epic war saga "Baahubali" film series for transporting pan-Indian cinema to international shores.
“… Initially it was a phenomenon called Rajinikanth, the phenomenon became national, and then international. He has a major fan following in Japan, Canada, the US and everywhere. And after that it is ‘Baahubali’. They (Rajinikanth and the 'Baahubali' team) all set the trend," he added.
Dhanush, who has previously starred in 2018's English-language film The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, is going global again as he teams up with Hollywood stars Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in the Netflix movie The Gray Man directed by the Russo Brothers of Avengers: Endgame fame.
"It is a beautiful thing that has happened to our film industry. It made us believe that it is us who are restricting ourselves. It is a much bigger circle, we need to push ourselves,” he added.
Now eight years later, Dhanush reunites with Rai on the director's upcoming Hindi film Atrangi Re, also starring Sara Ali Khan and Akshay Kumar.
The musical romance drama follows the story of a woman named Rinku (Khan), who is in love with Sajjad (Kumar) but she is forced to marry Vishnu (Dhanush).
Romantic films play a pivotal role in an actor’s filmography, believes Dhanush.
“I believe for any actor, in the early stages, romantic films are very important to build and structure your career. Later, you can explore doing other things,” he added.
The actor also credited filmmakers such as Rai, Balki, late legendary director Balu Mahendra and his brother, writer-director Selvaraghavan for giving him an opportunity to be part of many "important films".
“I am blessed to meet the right makers with the right stories at the right time. Not everybody is so lucky to land such important films and filmmakers. Selvaraghavan, my brother, taught me the ABCD of acting, Balu Mahendra sir, Vetrimaaran, Aanand L Rai, R Balki, I have been very fortunate. In the last 20 years I have met six to seven great directors and they all tap something new (in me). I learn something from them,” he said.
Atrangi Re marks Dhanush's first Hindi-language movie in six years and the actor said a good story is imperative for him to act in any film. “I want to be a part of good beautiful stories like how ‘Atrangi Re’ is an interesting film. For a film to happen there a lot of factors that work and everything should fall in place. With this film, I hope I am able to satisfy the expectations of my fans here.”
The key reason he chose Atrangi Re to return to Hindi cinema, he said, was Rai, who is also a good friend.
“I love Aanand L Rai’s sensibilities. He looks into your soul and finds the right chords. He is a brilliant technician. When it is Aanand I know, I can trust him blindly, follow him and let him do his magic. He has never disappointed me.”
There has been a lot of debate on social media about the glaring age difference among the lead actors - 26-year-old Khan is paired opposite Dhanush, who is now 38, and Kumar, 54.
Addressing the argument, Dhanush said for him it was all about essaying the character with utmost honesty. Citing the example of him playing a 55-year-old man in his acclaimed film Asuran, he said, “At 38, I romanced a heroine (Manju Warrier) older than me in ‘Asuran’, so, it is the way the character is written.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I thought I would face this question 10 years later. For me, it is the character that matters and it is my job to play the part convincingly.”
Produced by Bhushan Kumar of T-Series, Rai’s Colour Yellow Productions and Kumar’s Cape of Good Films, Atrangi Re will be released on December 24 on the streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar.