Venkatesh Prabhu, who was captivated by a covert operation codenamed Dhanush in Kamal Haasan’s Kuruthipunal, and took that name for himself, is a man of few words. Despite achieving star status since then, Dhanush comes across as humble and honest. If he hadn’t been an actor, he would have been happy cooking. But his father, filmmaker Kasthuri Raja, got him to be an actor.
“I loved cooking things for my father — an omelette or a chapati. I feel cooking is one of the most beautiful and divine arts. It becomes a part of your system and your blood. But he had different plans. My father forced me to act. I thought, let me just get it done with …That was the kind of mood, but then…” he trails off.
Apart from cooking, Dhanush’s passion is Ilaiyaraaja’s music. He would have been happy binging on it. “Ilayiaraaja Sir is my god. I love my Ilaiyaraaja Sir. He is my mother, he is my lullaby, he is my everything,” says the actor who dabbles in music and sings for his films besides penning lyrics.
“I want to be a director,” Dhanush says. Despite two National Awards as an actor and two as a producer, we ask. “Well, whatever awards I win, the credit goes to the filmmaker, and so I want to be a filmmaker,” he explains candidly.
Atrangi Re is his third Hindi release and his second collaboration with Aanand L. Rai after Raanjhanaa. Dhanush shares a great camaraderie with the filmmaker. “Aanandji and I are brothers. We are family. It is like how we chill at home; we are in a comfortable space. Atrangi Re is not just about my character Vishu. This film is bigger than that. I was concentrating on the soul of the film and understanding the world and how and what he was saying. I was preparing to be a part of that world,” he says.
Dhanush is unwilling to compare Aanand with the filmmakers from the south who he often collaborates with. “Comparison is unnecessary. Every filmmaker is talented and unique in his own way. Aanandji always makes sure that the characters he gives me are very special and challenging. Atrangi Re will make you have a big smile on your face for a long time,” he says with assurance.
Preparing for Vishu was an arduous task for him. “It was tough to grasp the emotion and humour and act them out. It was a difficult preparation and was emotionally draining. But in the end, it was well worth it,” he says.
Dhanush, who is fluent in English and Tamil, gets to speak Tamil in Hindi films. “I am fortunate to do Hindi films and I should make myself fluent Hindi in for future films. I have not signed anything but I will be doing more Hindi films. I don’t have the luxury of time to learn a language, but when the next film happens, I will do so in the course of preparation,” says the actor.
Asked about collaborating with newcomers like Sonam, Akshara and Sara in his Hindi films, he differs on that labelling of Sonam. “Sonam was a star when I worked with her. She was not new. She was famous and I remember that all the Tamil directors wanted her in their films,” he says, adding, “We all come together to tell a story.”
Sara calls him the Thalaiva of the south. “There is only one Thalaiva, and that is Mr Rajinikanth Sir. I have told her a million times to stop saying that and that Rajini fans won’t like it. But Sara being Sara, won’t listen,” he reiterates.
Dhanush, who jumped into direction with Power Pandi, says that he casts himself as an actor in his directorial ventures because he does not have a choice. “Stories usually find me rather than I picking them up. When I feel a story is cool, I just follow my instinct. So until some actor or a star believes in me, I don’t have any choice but to cast myself in my films. I seem to be my only option. I want to direct other actors too, but I don’t think I have done anything so far for an actor to trust me. Let me prove myself,” he signs off....