Widely known in the Tamil film industry as ‘Thala’, Tamil superstar Ajith’s career graph over the past few decades makes for a classic rags-to- riches case-study. His devotedly vociferous fans, who pounce at detractors on social media platforms, form the bedrock of Ajith’s box-office magic in K’town. To mark the wonderful occasion of Ajith Kumar’s birthday, we walk down memory lane and pick five films when he dazzled in author-backed roles.
Vaali directed by SJ Suryah redefined Ajith’s career as an actor. Enacting a dual role of Shiva and Deva as identical siblings, Ajith excelled in playing a deaf and dumb character (Deva) with his adorable idiosyncrasies and quirks adding to his considerable charm. His sterling performance was lauded by critics and moviegoers alike and fetched him his first major recognition in the form of a Filmfare Award for Best Actor.
Significant in forging his ties with Shalini (Ajith’s wife), Amarkalam has always been a memorable film in Ajith’s remarkable career. He joined hands with director Saran for the second time after their successful last outing in Kadhal Mannan. Interspersed with action sequences and romance, Ajith delivered a stand-out performance in Amarkalam by playing the role of Vaasu, a cut-throat gangster. This particular role of Ajith made everyone sit up and take notice of his hitherto underrated acting talent for he shared screen space with legends like Raghuvaran, Nassar, Vinu Chakravarthy and Radhika and still managed to make his presence felt with an earnest portrayal of Vaasu.
Mugavari directed by VZ Durai will go down as Ajith’s most accomplished and severely under-praised role in his career. Ajith played the role of Sridhar, an aspiring music composer who passionately follows his dream despite facing several hardships. His beautiful performance as a vulnerable youngster who is caught between his single-member- earning-family and facing the harsh realities of life will tug at your heartstrings even today.
The cliché-defying Vinayak Mahadev in Mankatha stands as a path-breaking career choice by Ajith Kumar. He commanded scorching screen presence as an assistant commissioner of police and appeared deadly when he mouthed expletives on screen with great élan and effortless ease. Even today, hordes of fans have been constantly requesting director Venkat Prabhu on social media platforms to write a sequel to Mankatha, Ajith’s most loved film in the last few years.
After a series of monotonous mainstream films, Ajith made a comeback as an ‘actor’ in GauthamMenon’s Yennai Arindhaal, where he portrayed the role of Sathyadev IPS. At a time when star films in Tamil cinema pandered to hero-centric scripts, Ajith made a daring career choice by providing his female leads – Trisha and Anushka Shetty – enough space in the film to prove themselves. He lived the role of Sathyadev sporting various looks and impressed audiences with his slick histrionics.
(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 1 May 2016. It is being republished to mark the actor’s birth anniversary.)