Ajith Kumar

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Ajith Kumar
Ajith Cropped Soundarya Wedding.jpg
Born Ajith Kumar Subramani
(1971-05-01) 1 May 1971 (age 43)[1]
Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
(now in Telangana, India)
Residence Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Nationality Indian
Other names Thala
Occupation Film actor, promotional model, Racing driver, Philanthropist
Years active 1992–present
Religion Hindu[2]
Spouse(s) Shalini Kumar (2000–present)
Children Anoushka

Ajith Kumar (born 1 May 1971) is an Indian film actor working predominantly in Tamil cinema. He has won three Filmfare Best Actor Awards, all for films which showcased him in multiple roles. In addition to his acting, Ajith, in a sabbatical, participated in the 2004 British Formula Three season as a Formula Two racing driver and was ranked the third best motor car driver in India at his peak.[3][4]

He began his career as a supporting actor in a Telugu film before gaining critical recognition in the Tamil thriller Aasai (1995),[5] before going on to establish himself as a romantic hero with Kadhal Kottai (1996), Aval Varuvala (1998) and Kadhal Mannan (1998) being the most notable. He was later seen in method roles as in Vaali (1999), Mugavaree (2000), Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000) and Citizen (2001)[6] before establishing himself as an action hero with popular films, including Amarkalam (1999), Dheena (2001), Villain (2002), Attagasam (2004), Varalaru (2006), Billa (2007), Mankatha (2011), Arrambam (2013) and Veeram (2014).

Ajith remains a popular figure in the media of Tamil Nadu, making headlines for his relationships before his marriage to former actress Shalini,[6] and his controversial statements in a few occasions.[7] Ajith was listed No. 61 in Forbes India's Top 100 Celebrities for the year 2012[8]

Acting career

Early career

Ajith Kumar was born to a middle-class family in Secunderabad, a city north of Hyderabad, to a Palakkad Iyer father and a Sindhi mother and was brought up in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.[3] He dropped out of Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School in 1986 before completing his higher secondary.[9] He took up work as a two wheeler auto mechanic, and got himself a driver's license to coincide with his interests, that of car and bike racing. In childhood he was fan of M. G. Ramachnadran and Rajesh Khanna. During his teens he became fan of Kamal Hasan. At 18, Ajith had to take up a job to support his career in racing. Joining as an apprentice, he rose to be a merchandiser with a garment export company, doing small-time press ads and TV commercials occasionally. He had put a lot of money into racing and would borrow tyres from his friends who used to help when the chains wore out as there was no money in racing at that time. Following an accident, several business agencies pushed him into modelling for advertisements in print media. He had to make a choice between films and racing, and as the films were happening and generating him some money, he began concentrating on it.[9] He debuted in En Veedu En Kanavar (1990) in a minor role as a school student.[10]

Aged 20, Ajith was selected by Telugu FILM productions, Lakshmi Productions, to star in their film; however shooting was stalled soon after filming began, following the death of the film's director.[11] Ajith then started his film career at the age of 21 appearing in the low budget Telugu film, Prema Pustakam in 1992, which remains his last direct Telugu film to date. His first Tamil film Amaravathi, directed by then newcomer Selva, was a moderate success and his voice was rendered by fellow actor, Vikram.[9] After the release, Ajith whilst training for an amateur motor race, suffered a fall, injuring his back and underwent three major surgeries resulting in a bed rest for one and a half years.[11] Following the injury in 1993, Ajith played a small role in the Arvind Swamy starrer, Paasamalargal, before appearing in a supporting lead role in the family drama, Pavithra, which featured him as an ailing patient shown maternal affection from Raadhika.[12]

1995–1999

In 1995, after a supporting role in the Vijay starrer Rajavin Parvaiyile, Ajith appeared in his first major success, Aasai. The film directed by Vasanth and produced by Mani Ratnam, featured him in the lead role opposite Suvalakshmi, whose brother-in-law infatuates about her. The film became a big success and established Ajith as an upcoming actor in the Tamil film industry.[5][13] He later played the lead in Kalloori Vaasal co-starring Prashanth and Pooja Bhatt.[9] Ajith's second blockbuster came in the form of National Award winning Kadhal Kottai, in which Ajith reunited with Agathiyan, the director of the earlier project Vaanmathi.[14] The film which told the tale of two people falling in unconditional love without seeing each other until the climax. The film paired him opposite Devayani, with Heera Rajgopal, who Ajith fell in love during the making of the project, playing a supporting role.[6]

After the success of his films in 1996, the following year saw a series of five failures,[11] the most notable being Amitabh Bachchan's Tamil production Ullaasam with Maheswari, in which he was paid a salary of Rs. 2 million for the first time.[9] Ajith returned in 1998 with another successful project in Saran's Kadhal Mannan, with the "masala film" setting the foundations for an expanding fan base.[9] He also began acting in Vasanth's Nerukku Ner, and was later replaced by Suriya co-starring Vijay.[15] Following films Aval Varuvala and Unnidathil Ennai Koduthen also became successes, with the latter featuring Ajith in a guest role. Except for Uyirodu Uyiraga which flopped, his other 3 films released in 1998 and 6 in 1999 were box-office hits. Ramesh Khanna's Thodarum, Sundar C's romantic drama Unnaithedi opposite Malavika set the tone for a series of big successes.

1999–2002

S. J. Suryaah's thriller, Vaali, which portrayed him in dual roles for the first time opposite Simran, became one of his biggest hits following its release.[11] The film told the story of a deaf and mute brother setting his eyes on his younger brother's wife, with Ajith's portrayal of the two brothers winning him his first of many awards for Filmfare's Best Actor.[16] Furthermore Ajith's portrayal of the brothers was also praised, with critics claiming that the film was an"instant classic" with Ajith showing that he is a "talented actor".[17] The two following supporting roles in the drama films Anandha Poongatre and Nee Varuvai Ena also brought Ajith plaudits for his portrayals. His final film before the new millennium was another blockbuster, Amarkalam directed by Saran and featuring Shalini, whom he married shortly after the film. Amarkalam told the story of a negelected child who grew up and fails to show feelings of love or affection, becoming a gangster in the process, with Ajith's depiction of his rogue character appreciated by critics.[18]

His next, Mugavaree, won him commercial and critical praise.[19] The film revolved around the life of a struggling music composer who faces sacrifices to proceed in his career. The film featured dual endings, one with Ajith succeeding in his career, the other with Ajith dejected. Ajith's performance was yet again praised with critics from Rediff, claiming that "Ajith is the real winner", drawing an allusion with the film's script, whilst adding that "it is amazing to see how Ajith has grown as an actor. He brilliantly portrays the vulnerable and sad Sridhar".[20] He also appeared in A. R. Rahman's 2000 musical Kandukondain Kandukondain directed by Rajiv Menon. The blockbuster featured Ajith alongside prominent actors Mammooty and Abbas and actresses Aishwarya Rai, Tabu and Srividya.[21] In a similar role to his previous film, Ajith played a struggling film director facing an oscillating relationship with Tabu, with the pair being unanimously praised for their roles.[22][23] After giving 6 straight hits in 1999 and having had Mugavaree and Kandukondain Kandukondain in 2000 as success, Aith had a flop Unnai Kodu Ennai Tharuven co-starring Simran.[18][24]

In 2001, Ajith appeared in 3 commercially successful Tamil films. Dheena, A. R. Murugadoss's debut film co-starring Laila Mehdin and Suresh Gopi, indirectly marked the beginning of a new image of Ajith, that of an action hero that would appeal to the masses.[25] Furthermore from the successful film, Ajith's nickname in the film, Thala, Tamil for Leader, became a new identity for the actor amongst his fans.[26] In the same year, he was offered a role in Nandha, which he rejected.[27] His next was the much-hyped thriller, Citizen, portraying Ajith in ten different get-ups and it became an above average success at the box office, despite being labelled a disappointment from critics.[28] A role in the family drama, Poovellam Un Vasam followed opposite Jyothika and was a success commercially and critically earning a Special Best Actor Award from the Tamil Nadu State.[29] The year ended off with an appearance in Santosh Sivan's Hindi project, Asoka, in which Ajith appeared in a brief negative role alongside Shah Rukh Khan, which flopped.[30] 2002 saw Ajith appear in three films, the first two; Red[31] and Raja[32] being box office disappointments, the former further building up his image as an action hero. The third film, Villain, in which Ajith appeared in dual roles, one as a mentally ill handicap, became a blockbuster and in return earning Ajith his second Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award.[33][34]

2003–2005

The following years, from 2003 till 2005, saw Ajith appear in fewer films due to his career in motor racing becoming more prominent.[35] 2003 saw the release of his long-delayed Ennai Thalatta Varuvala and the police drama Anjaneya, both failing commercially. In that period, four blockbuster films, namely Saamy, Kaakha Kaakha and Ghajini, were turned away by the actor due to various reasons.[27][36]

His next film, Jana with Sneha, also became a big failure, with the Saran film, Attagasam, being his only hit in the period.[37] The film, saw Ajith portray dual roles, with a song, "Thala Deepavali", penned to promote his action image. In 2005, the failure of the Linguswamy film Ji, despite garnering positive reviews and taking a strong opening, saw Ajith take a sabbatical from acting to re-work his image.[38][39] Of the five films released between 2003 and 2005, his only box-office hit was Attagasam.

2006–2008

During 2006, Ajith returned from his hiatus by appearing in P. Vasu's Paramasivan for which he had lost twenty kilograms to portray the lead role.[40] The film enjoyed a moderate success, scoring over Vijay's Aadhi, which also released in the same week, at the box-office.[41] Critics from The Hindu stated Ajith looked "trim and taut" in the film with "only his eyes seeming to have lost some of its sparkle", following the major weight loss.[42] Furthermore, for Paramasivan and his two other projects in 2006, Ajith sported long hair, which was being grown for Bala's project, Naan Kadavul, which Ajith eventually opted out of.[43] Similarly his next, AVM Productions's, Thirupathi directed by Perarasu performed above average business at the box-office, despite garnering poor reviews, with Rediff critics citing that the film is "anything but sensible" but that Ajith "salvages the situation with a spirited performance".[44] Ajith summed up a successful comeback by the release of his long-delayed film, Varalaru which went on to become his biggest success til date. The K. S. Ravikumar film co-starring Asin, portrayed Ajith in three roles, including that of a classical dancer, with his portrayals being critically praised.[45][46] Moreover, the film fetched Ajith his third Filmfare Best Actor Award, on its way to becoming a blockbuster.[47] In 2007, media reports hinted that the actor would do a project with Shankar.[48] Ajith's first release in 2007, Aalwar became a debacle at the box-office, with his previous film still continuing to run in theatres even after Aalwar had stopped its brief theatrical run.[49] Kireedam, a remake of the 1989 National Award winning Malayalam film of the same name was released to positive reviews, with the film also becoming a moderate success.[50] During the shoot of the film, Ajith developed a further spinal injury, a recurrence of his problem earlier in his career.[51]

Ajith then starred in Billa, a remake of the 1980 Rajinikanth starrer of the same name, which became a blockbuster, the Vishnuvardhan directorial fetched critical praise for Ajith, becoming a trend-setter for stylish art direction and cinematography in India.[52] Billa, yet again, featured Ajith in dual roles one of a notorious don whilst the other played an innocent person who had to act as the don, following the former's death. After Billa, Ajith appeared in the film Ayngaran International production Aegan, directed by the choreographer turned director Raju Sundaram. The film, a remake of the 2004 Hindi comedy Main Hoon Na, failed at the box office.[53]

2010–present

Following a year's worth of production, Ajith's Aasal released in February 2010, taking a grand opening at the box office. The film, which also featured Ajith in dual roles, also failed at the box office despite its bigger expectations.[54]

After a second foray into motor racing, Ajith signed up to star in a film directed by Venkat Prabhu, titled Mankatha, which notably became his 50th project.[55] The film featured him in a full-length negative role as Vinayak Mahadevan, a suspended police officer who lusts after money. His performance and his decision to portray a character with negative shades, breaking the stereotype hero image in Tamil cinema,[56][57] were lauded by critics, with reviewers from Sify and Rediff terming the film as an "out and out Ajith film" that worked "only because of Ajith".[58][59] Heaping praise on the actor's performance, the former noted that he "rocks as the man with ice in his veins as the mean and diabolic cop" and that he played "the emotionless bad man, to perfection",[58] while the latter wrote that he had "carried practically the whole film on his capable shoulders".[59] Mankatha brought Ajith Kumar his best ever opening in his career and went on to become a financially successful venture as well.[56]

Ajith then starred in Billa II, a prequel to his 2007 blockbuster Billa, which released on 13 July 2012 to mixed reviews with critics praising Ajith's screen presence and stunts, film's cinematography, pace and style while criticizing the climax to be poor and blaming the director.[60][61][62][63][64] However it had a wonderful opening and was declared a commercial success.[65][66][67]

He has starred in Vishnuvardhan's Arrambam alongside Arya, Nayantara and the film released on 31 October to very high positive reviews from both critics and audience.[68] The movie collected a heavy sum of INR1 billion (US$17 million) worldwide in just 10 days.[69] His next film post Arrambam is director Siva's Veeram, which is scheduled to release in Pongal 2014.[70]

Racing career

Ajith Kumar competing in the final round of the MRF racing series (2010) in Chennai

Ajith is a keen race car driver and has driven in circuits around India in places such as Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. Ajith is one among very few Indians to race in International arena and only Indian actor to compete in Formula championships. He has also been abroad for various races, including Germany and Malaysia. He drove in the 2003 Formula Asia BMW Championships.[71] He raced in the 2010 Formula 2 Championship along with two other Indians, Armaan Ebrahim and Parthiva Sureshwaren.[72]

Formula BMW Asia (2003)

After a one-off race during the Formula Maruti Indian Championships in 2002, where he finished in fourth place, Ajith signed a contract with manager Akbar Ebrahim confirming his participation in the inaugural Formula BMW Asia Championship. Despite spinning out in the first lap of his first race, Ajith successfully completed the season by finishing seventh in the season.

Formula 2 (2010)

After a six-year sabbatical, Ajith signed up for his third season of car racing by participating in the 2010 season of the FIA Formula Two Championship.[73] The decision to be involved in the sport was made after Ajith's film directed by Gautham Menon was delayed, allowing Ajith to participate for the whole season.[74] Prior to signing up, Ajith competed in the final round of the MRF racing series in Chennai in February 2010, but failed to finish the race due to mechanical problems. Further trials in Sepang, Malaysia followed suit as he practised for the season's beginning in April 2010 in his Formula Renault V6 car with Eurasian Racing, shedding 11 kilograms during training.[75]

Awareness Bike Tour (2013)

Ajith Kumar with his hunk BMW S1000RR (2013) in Chennai

He took this bike ride from Chennai to Bangalore on 18 August 2013 in order to create awareness of safety driving.[75]

Personal life

Family

Ajith Kumar was born on 1 May 1971 to a Palakkad Iyer Iyer named P. Subramaniam and his wife Mohini, of Sindhi origin from Kolkata, West Bengal.[3][76] Ajith later created the non-profit organisation "Mohini-Mani Foundation", named after his parents, in order to promote self-hygiene and civic consciousness and to help ease the problems of urban sprawl.[77] Ajith Kumar was the middle son out of three brothers, the others being Anoop Kumar, a stockbroker in New York and Anil Kumar, an IIT Madras graduate working in Seattle.[78] Moreover, Ajith had younger twin sisters, both of whom died young.[3] Through his marriage to actress Shalini, Ajith became brother-in-law to actor, Richard Rishi, and actress Shamili, who appeared as his sister-in-law in Rajiv Menon's Kandukondain Kandukondain.

Relationships

In 1999, during the shoot of Saran's Amarkalam, Ajith began to date his co-star Shalini. At that time, their involvement made him a regular subject of tabloid gossip, a role to which he was accustomed following his previous relationship. Ajith proposed to Shalini in June 1999, and following consultations with her family, she agreed.[6] They were married in April 2000 in Chennai in a grand ceremony. As both were of different religions, Ajith being a Hindu Brahmin and Shalini being Protestant Christian, they were married together under the customs of both religions. After their marriage, Shalini retired as an actress and became a full-time housewife, following the completion of two unfinished projects.[79] On 3 January 2008, their daughter, Anoushka, was born in Chennai.[80]

Awards and nominations

Ajith Kumar awards and nominations
Awards and nominations
Award Wins Nominations
Filmfare Awards South
5 4
Vijay Awards
4 5
Others
11 3
Totals
Awards won 21
Nominations 12

Honours

2000 - Kalaimamani[81]

Year Nominated for Award Result
1993 Prema Pusthakam Best New Face Award from "Bharatmuni Art Academy" Won
1995 Aasai Filmfare Award for Best Actor - Tamil Nominated
1999 Vaali Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil Won
Cinema Express Award for Best Actor - Tamil Won
Dinakaran Cinema Best Actor Award Won
2000 Kandukondain Kandukondain Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor – Tamil Won
Mugavaree Cinema Express Award for Best Actor – Tamil Won
2001 Citizen Cinema Express Award for Best Actor - Tamil Won
Poovellam Un Vasam Tamil Nadu State Film Special Award for Best Actor,Filmfare Award for Best Actor - Tamil Won
Asoka Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role Nominated
2002 Villain Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil Won
Dinakaran Cinema Best Actor Won
2006 MGR Award Won
2006 Varalaru Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil Won
Vijay Award for Favourite Hero Won
Vijay Award for Best Actor Won
Tamil Nadu State Film Honorary MGR Award Won
Southern Indian Cinematographers Association (SICA) Best Actor Award Won
2007 Billa Vijay Award for Favourite Hero Nominated
Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil Nominated
Tamil Nadu Cinema Fans Association Best Actor Award Won
2008 Aegan Vijay Award for Favourite Hero Nominated
2010 Aasal Vijay Award for Favourite Hero Nominated
2011 Mankatha Vijay Award for Best Villain Won
Vijay Award for Favourite Hero Won
Chennai Times Award for Best Actor Won
Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil Nominated
SIIMA Award for Best Actor Nominated
SIIMA Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role Nominated
2012 Billa II Vijay Award for Favourite Hero Nominated
2013 Arrambam Vijay Award for Favourite Hero Nominated
Filmfare Award for Best Actor - Tamil Nominated

Filmography

Key
Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Film Role Notes
1990 En Veedu En Kanavar School student
1993 Amaravathi Arjun
1993 Prema Pustakam Siddharth Telugu film
1994 Paasamalargal Kumar
1994 Pavithra Ashok
1995 Rajavin Parvaiyile Chandru
1995 Aasai Jeevanantham
1996 Vaanmathi Krishna
1996 Kalloori Vaasal Vasanth
1996 Minor Mappillai Ramu
1996 Kadhal Kottai Surya
1997 Nesam Nathan
1997 Raasi Kumar
1997 Ullaasam Guru
1997 Pagaivan Prabhu
1997 Rettai Jadai Vayasu Vijay
1998 Kadhal Mannan Shiva
1998 Aval Varuvala Jeeva
1998 Unnidathil Ennai Koduthen Sanjay Guest appearance
1998 Uyirodu Uyiraga Ajay
1999 Thodarum Anand
1999 Unnai Thedi Raghu
1999 Vaali Shiva,
Dheva
Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
1999 Anantha Poongatre Jeeva
1999 Nee Varuvai Ena Subramani
1999 Amarkalam Vasu
2000 Mugavaree Sridhar
2000 Kandukondain Kandukondain Manohar
2000 Unnai Kodu Ennai Tharuven Surya
2001 Dheena Dheenadhayalan
2001 Citizen Arivanandham (Anthony/Abdullah),
Subramani
2001 Poovellam Un Vasam Chinnasamy Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize for Best Actor
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
2001 Asoka Suseema Hindi film
Nominated — Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role
Dubbed into Tamil as Samrat Asoka
2002 Red Red
2002 Raja Raja
2002 Villain Shiva,
Vishnu
Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
2003 Ennai Thalatta Varuvala Satish
2003 Anjaneya Paramaguru
2004 Jana Janardhanan
2004 Attagasam Guru,
Jeeva
2005 Ji Vasu
2006 Paramasivan Subramaniyam Siva (Paramasivan)
2006 Thirupathi Thirupathi
2006 Varalaru Shivshankar,
Vishnu,
Jeeva
Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
Vijay Award for Favourite Hero
2007 Aalwar Aalwar (Shiva)
2007 Kireedam Sakthivel Rajarajan
2007 Billa David Billa,
Saravanavelu
Nominated — Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
Nominated — Vijay Award for Favourite Hero
2008 Aegan Shiva Nominated — Vijay Award for Favourite Hero
2010 Aasal Shiva,
Jeevanandham
Also screenwriter
Nominated — Vijay Award for Favourite Hero
2011 Mankatha Vinayak Mahadevan Vijay Award for Favourite Hero
Vijay Award for Best Villain
Chennai Times Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
2012 Billa II David Billa Nominated — Vijay Award for Favourite Hero
2012 English Vinglish Ajith Cameo appearance
2013 Arrambam Ashok Kumar (AK) Nominated — Vijay Award for Favourite Hero
Nominated — Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
2014 Veeram Vinayagam
2014 Aayiram ThottaakkalFilms that have not yet been released

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