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Meet Dhanush, the National Award winner

Last updated on: August 17, 2011 18:12 IST

Image: A still from Aadukaalam
Shobha Warrier in Chennai
When the 58th National awards committee named Dhanush as the best actor in India, along with Malayalam actor Salim Kumar, his father-in-law, the superstar of Tamil cinema, Rajnikanth, was ill. Till he recovered, there was no celebration for the young actor.

Now that Rajnikanth has fully recovered and is back in Chennai, life is back to normal for his family. Last month, on the day he turned 28, his wife Aishwarya announced her first film as a director, with Dhanush in the lead.

Shobha Warrier met Dhanush on the sets of Irandam Ulakam, directed by his brother Selvaraghavan, and asked him about the National Award, his wife's film, and much more.

Now that Rajnikanth is back in Chennai, are you going to celebrate winning the National Award?

To be very honest, the moment has passed. It should have happened then but we couldn't celebrate at that time. I have moved on and don't feel like throwing a party or celebrating now. I am finishing Selva's film and then going on to start Aishwarya's film. I also have no time.

'I am not an awards guy'

Image: Dhanush, Aishwarya and Selvaraghavan

Did the award come as a surprise to you?

I was not expecting an award but I knew I had a good project in hand. I knew I had done well. Though I was not completely satisfied, I was reasonably satisfied. The director, Vetriamaran, and many others said I did a good job and that I would win the National Award. But I did not believe them. When I moved on to the next project, I even forgot about Aadukalam.

Would you have been disappointed if you had not won the award?

(Laughs) No way. I am not an awards guy; I have never won any award except a Vijay TV award for the best entertainer in 2008. So, even if I had not won the National Award, life would have been quite normal.

Now that you have won the topmost award in the country, do you think there will be a change in the kind of films you do?

Never. I do not want anyone to think that I will only do certain kinds of films. I try to mix commercial and off-beat projects. Though I do a film like Aadukalam, I also do comedies, action films and family dramas. I want people to say that he can do any kind of role. That is how I want to be known.

How different is it to act in commercial films and also in films like Aadukalam?

It is easier to work in a film like Aadukalam because it is close to life. It is realistic. It is easy to emote and perform in such films. But in commercial films, everything is larger than life and exaggerated. You have to imagine things and overact a little bit. I am not saying its wrong; I am saying it is difficult.

Which one satisfies you the most?

Obviously acting in off-beat films satisfies me but then you can't be acting in such films all the time. I have to act in films that are received well by the B and C audience because they look at me as a local fellow, as one among them. I enjoy those moments too. As a star, I enjoy acting in commercial films but as a performer, I enjoy subtle acting.  That is why I do both kinds of films.

Which is more important, being a star or an actor?

It doesn't really matter what is important to me. What matters is what is important for the producer, distributors and fans.

'I'm not here to satisfy myself, I'm here to entertain the audience'

Image: A still from Aadukaalam

What about your own satisfaction?

I am not here to satisfy myself. I am here to entertain the audience. I am here to make a profit for the producer who invests in me. So, commercial films are more important to me. Once in a while I do films like Pudupettai, Athu Oru Kana Kaalam and Aadukalam to satisfy myself.

You are one of the youngest actors to win the National Award for acting.

Yes, I am the youngest. It is an accident that the award came to me and I happened to be the youngest star to win the award. According to me, anybody who did the role of KP Karuppu would have won the award. I am sure Vetrimaran would have made anyone perform well.

How do you differentiate between acceptance by the public and awards?

Being accepted by the public is much more important than winning an award. If the public won't accept you, you are nowhere in the picture. You have to be in the picture to get an award.

What might have made the public accept you as a star?

They never accepted me as a star; they made me a star. They first accepted me as one among them because I look like them. I look like the average college-going boy. That is the reason they accepted me. Later, they made me a star.

'There are many plus points of being a celebrity'

Image: A still from Aadukaalam

Does it bother you when you lose privacy because you are a star?

I have been in this industry for the last 11 years. I have accepted the fact and I have moved on. The only drawback about being a celebrity is losing privacy but there are so many plus points too.

God has put me in a position from where I can entertain millions of people. I can make them laugh and cry. Not everybody can do it. You get to meet new people and you get to go to many places. So, there are so many beautiful things this work can offer.

Do you think you will lose touch with reality, which in turn will affect your performance?

It can happen, and it might have already happened to me. But it will not affect my performance because human emotions are the same all over, universal. I may not know the price of sugar but I know what crying and laughing is. Performing is emoting, and emotions will never change.

When you first acted in Selvaraghavan's film as a teenager, did you expect to be a star?

Never. I planned to finish that film and get back to my college life but it didn't happen.

Did you miss going to college and the student life?

I used to miss it a lot till four years ago. But after my son Yatra was born, no, I don't miss anything. I totally forgot about what I have missed.

'It's more of a disadvantage to work with Selvaraghavan'

Image: A still from Aadukaalam
You have worked with your brother Selvaraghavan in many films. Are you at an advantage when he directs you?

I would say it is more a disadvantage. Outsiders see only your plus points while the family sees only your minus points. It is quite difficult to satisfy them.

You are going to be directed by your wife Aishwarya now. Will you be an obedient actor?

Yes, I will be an obedient actor. I will be more careful. I don't want people to say later that I helped her. It is her hard work. She has put in a lot of effort in the film. And she should get the credit for that.

How much have you contributed to her becoming a director?

I kept encouraging her and asked her to start from the basics. I encouraged her to make a lot of short films. Other than that, I have no hand in her developing as a filmmaker. She has it in her blood and only needed some grooming.

How is life as the son-in-law of Rajnikanth?

Quite difficult. There is a lot of responsibility associated with it. I never wanted to share in the glory of Enthiran or Sivaji. But I wanted to share the pain the family was going through and that was what I did. I also kind of become the spokesperson of the family. When the entire family was in Singapore, I was the only one available for the media, a bridge between the family and the outside world.

'I lost my real identity long ago'

Image: A still from Aadukaalam
Most of Rajnikanth's family -- Aishwarya, Soundarya, Rajnikanth and you -- are in films. Do your dining table conversations revolve around cinema?

Though we discuss many things, 60 per cent of our conversations would be about cinema, and the rest about other issues like spirituality.

What kind of an actor are you? Do you become the character?

Certain characters refuse to leave me as I tend to become them, like KP Karuppu or Kokki Kumar. I look for those who were with me when I was those characters. I start missing them. I suffer for seven or eight months as they refuse to leave me. KP Karuppu is still within me.

When will you be Dhanush?

Why should I be Dhanush? I don't miss being Dhanush. But I miss being Prabhu (his real name), who was the real me, the one who was there before I became Dhanush and joined the film industry. I miss his innocence, happiness, and the peace he had. I had no responsibilities then. I was a free bird. Prabhu was my real identity which I lost long ago.

Do you have dreams for Dhanush, the actor?

As an actor, I dream greedily. I dream for roles, fame, money... everything. You name it and I dream of all those things. That is why I say, I dream greedily.