Happy Birthday Dhanush: Karnan, Vada Chennai, Raanjhanaa And Others; 5 Of The Actor’s Finest Performances Till Date

Actor Dhanush turned a year older today. On his Birthday, read about the actor’s five finest performances so far from films- Karnan, Vada Chennai, Raanjhanaa and others

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Happy Birthday Dhanush: Karnan, Vada Chennai, Raanjhanaa And Others; 5 Of The Actor’s Finest Performances Till Date
Enai Noki Paayum Thota: Dhanush, playing a 20-year old is a bit of stretch but this is where the age-old convenient suspension of disbelief comes in handy. The mating games are played with an enchanting elegance. This is romance in the purest cinematic sense, ethereal and unattainable, cadenced and magnetic, shot with an eye and ear for  workaday sublimity. Director Gautham Menon lets  the couple  find and  celebrate idealized  love in  routine places. Even as we savour the couple’s  moments together  the narrative takes a sharp swerve into  violence. The restless narrative shifts to Mumbai  for action scenes which are as  elegantly  shot as  the romance. Menon never allows  any awkwardness  to  seep into his  cinema  even as he negotiates  impossible genre  jumps like  a seasoned trapeze artiste.

There is something uniquely ingratiating  in  the  clasp of courtship and  mayhem that Menon here. While Dhanush thinks a clean-shave look entitles him to ever-youthfulness, his co-star has  a much less challenging role. Megha Akash reminded me of Urmila Matomdkar in Ram Gopal Varma’s Mast. The exploited actress locked in a gilded cage, pining to be liberated through love… Enai Noki Paayum Thota is a film of many virtues about characters who  do not shy away from their vices. There is a remarkable sense of headlong apprehension in the scenes.

Both the romance and action are perched dangerously in a steep space where they can easily topple  over into an abyss. The fluency of  director Gautham Menon’s  directorial language  holds together the  disparate  dimensions  of life that we  sometimes weigh against the  powers  of love  to heal rather than hurt.

VadaChennai:  Dhanush has the  Tamil audiences eating out of his hands.  He can do anything, ANYTHING, he likes. The fans  are with him. The slobbering  raves for his  new film are  proof. In Vada Chennai, he plays  Anbu, a carrom player (like Siddharth in Chandan Arora’s Striker)  who repeatedly ends up  in jail where he befriends  dons gangsters and dons’ and gangsters’ cronies. The brutality is  kept at bay. The director Vetrimaan has  had enough of it in his last film. To give the  very routine gangster  drama an epic feel, director  Vetrimaaran (who earlier directed that  raw Vissaranai about police atrocity) spreads the  narrative and  the characters into a stretched-out sprawl. The mounting is impressive. So is Dhanush’s changing hairstyle over the decades. He is lanky enough to carry off the role of a teenager in the first flush of love. The object of Dhanush’s adoration  is Padma (Aishwarya Raj) who plays that emboldened impassioned street-smart  sweetheart whom Dhnush loves to kiss in his films. When a local goon (there are so many of them it’s impossible to keep track) heckles the couple Dhanush’s Anbu gets murderous. The scenes of gangwar and internecine rivalry are  shot on suitable dark dingy desolate locations so that glorifying violence  is never an  option. But celebrating it is. Director Vetrimaaran seems suitably awed  by the  antisocial world that  his characters inhabits. Every characters is a potential  law breaker. This fact we are given to ingest from the start. Dhanush’s character  is constantly in a crowd of potential rioters and murderers. He  is  the ‘Common Man’ with an axe to grind. He gets to grind it in grating leisure. We are  often invited to  participate  in  the  wages  of  lawlessness.

Raanjhanaa: Aanand Rai’s Varanasi-based love story was volatile vibrant and vital, brazen and brilliant. The film captured the essence of  a mismatched chalk-and-cheese alliance through vivacious vignettes from the lead pair Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor’s lives as they sang their way through  some of A R Rahman’s finest songs in recent times. The film marked the coming of age of Sonam Kapoor as an actress worth watching. Anil Kapoor just can’t stop beaming.

Shamitabh: Dhanush's synchronicity with the Big B, so crucial to the plot, proves him to be an actor of remarkable resources. Thankfully, like Balki Dhanush is a Big B fan later, an honest artiste first. The writer-director takes the voice of Mr Bachchan (in other words, the voice of the nation) and puts it on Dhanush, that intelligent Tamil actor who is rapidly emerging as the inheritor to Kamal Haasan. It really can't any more audacious than this...though admittedly there's no telling what Balki would dare to do next.

Karnan: I have seen innumerable seething simmering films about social injustice. None  so tense and  implosive.  I’ve seen  any number  of  angry heroes. None as angry as Karnan. As played by Dhanush he is the voice of a voiceless village. The hand that won’t  hold itself back. The  face  of  the  social protester who  is no poster boy. He will act. He will kill. He won’t be stopped. Dhanush is  so volatile, I have never felt more compromised,  more  a part of  socio-economical system that allows  a handful to have all the wealth and  power. To be  honest I have never seen film like Karnan. It rambles and roars, dances and  writhes  as  it explores the  dynamics of exploitation with a straightforwardness that eschews any  kind of  cinematic deceit. And yet  strangely enough it is filled with  allegorical  allusions and metaphors including a  masked girl  child indicative  of  the faceless victim, and  a  donkey with its two front  legs tied which Karnan frees before the  climactic violence (get it?)

Image source: IMDb