How Arjun Das has become the new go-to villain of Tamil cinema, from Karthi's Kaithi to Vijay's Thalapathy 64
Arjun Das has become the talk of the town after he replaced Malayalam actor Antony Varghese as the main villain in Vijay’s film Thalapathy 64.
The hottest and meanest new villain in Kollywood is Arjun Das. He has been making waves ever since he played the cocaine-snorting bad guy Anbu in Karthi’s Lokesh Kanagaraj-directed Diwali super hit Kaithi.
He is not the conventional tall and muscular villain you have seen in many films. Instead, the 29-year-old actor is lean, has a baritone, and deadly eloquent eyes. Last month, the star-in-the-making was flooded with congratulatory messages. He had replaced Malayalam actor Antony Varghese of Angamaly Diaries and Jallikattu-fame as the main villain in the most popular hero of Tamil cinema, Vijay’s film Thalapathy 64.
Arjun says the chance to act alongside Vijay took him by surprise as his mentor Lokesh Kanakaraj had made no mention during the casting of the film. In an exclusive interview to Firstpost, Arjun Das says, “Suddenly, out of the blue, Lokesh called me, and just said come to the location. When Lokesh calls, you don’t ask any questions. I just boarded the next flight, and went to the location. Yes, it’s a very challenging role in Vijay sir’s film but I cannot say anything more except that I will be shooting for it in Shimoga and some other places till end of January. I won’t take up any other film till the shoot and dubbing of Thalapathy 64 is over.”
The boy, from a middle class background, studied in Pune, Dubai, and Chennai as his father, who has his roots in Thrissur in Kerala, was in a transferable job as a bank officer. Arjun had absolutely no connections with Kollywood. He was hosting a Bollywood song programme in non-peak hours as a Radio Jockey at a Tamil FM station, before offers came his way. His baritone and looks went a long way as he was selected to play a role in Andhagaram, with the entire cast of newcomers, and a negative role in director Prabhu Solomon’s Kumki 2. Both the films are yet to be released.
The breakthrough came when ace director Gautham Menon, while driving, happened to hear his voice over the car radio, and decided to use it. Arjun’s voice was used as voiceover for the teaser of Menon’s forthcoming action film Vikram-starrer Dhruva Naksthram, and it went viral. Around that time, Lokesh was looking for a person with a good voice to play one of the bad guys in Kaithi. Arjun impressed the director. Chasing his dreams to be an actor, Arjun was also doing a course at Koothu Pattarai (Tamil theatre group) and English theatre group EVAM, which also worked to his advantage.
Arjun claims director Lokesh and producer SR Prabhu, along with hero Karthi, gave him a free hand during the shoot of Kaithi. “During the dubbing, they helped me a lot to get it correct as the character was unique, silent till interval, and later, he explodes. Yes, the voice modulation went a long way in establishing the character. I saw the film first day first show with the audiences, and when Anbu dies, there was a loud clapping, which brought tears to my eyes as it is the real acknowledgement of my onscreen performance.”
Now, will the image-conscious Kollywood allow him to play the conventional hero? Arjun says, “Good question, but I will be careful not to be typecast. At the end of the day, the script and the director will be the deciding factors. Nothing else matters.” Meanwhile, with his current star status, Arjun is hoping his first film as the hero, Andhagaram, directed by debutant Vignarajan, will finally hit the screens soon. Till then, he plans to enjoy the ride of playing the bad guy.
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