Arjun Sarja

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This article is about the actor. For other uses, see Arjun.
Arjun Sarja
Born Srinivasa Sarja
(1962-08-15) 15 August 1962 (age 52)
Mysore, Mysore State, India
Other names Ashok Babu
Occupation Film actor, director, producer
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Niveditha
Children Aishwarya Arjun
Relatives Chiranjeevi Sarja (nephew)
Dhruv Sarja (nephew)

Arjun Sarja (born 15 August 1962 as Srinivasa Sarja)[1] is an Indian film actor and director.[2] He has primarily acted in Tamil and Kannada films and also appeared in Malayalam and Telugu films.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Personal life[edit]

Arjun Sarja was born on August 15, 1962, to a Kannada family in Mysore, in the erstwhile Mysore State.[1] His father was Shakthi Prasad, a Kannada film actor,[10] and his mother was Lakshmi, an art teacher. He had one elder brother Kishore Sarja, who directed Kannada films.[11] He is married to Niveditha (Asha Rani), a former actress who has appeared in the 1986 Kannada film Rathasapthami.[12] Kannada actor Rajesh is his father-in-law.[13] Sarja has two daughters, Aishwarya and Anjana.[14][15] Aishwarya Arjun will be making her acting debut in 2013.[16] His nephews Chiranjeevi Sarja and Dhruva Sarja both act in Kannada movies.[17] Another nephew of Arjun, Bharat Sarja, will also be making his acting debut in 2013.[18]

Sarja, inspired by Bruce Lee's 1973 film Enter the Dragon, began training Karate at the age of 16[1] and now holds a black belt.[19]

Film career[edit]

Arjun's father Shakti Prasad, an actor of Kannada films, did not want his son to become actor and turned down film offers that Arjun began to receive as a teenager. Film producer Rajendra Singh Babu managed to convince Arjun to begin shoot for a feature film for his production house without Shakti Prasad's express permission, and, consequently, his father agreed to Arjun's career choice. The film Simhada Mari Sainya (1981) featured him as a junior artiste and the director of the film gave him the stage name of Arjun, replacing his original name Ashok Babu.[20] While he began to establish himself in Kannada films, he received an offer from actor-producer A. V. M. Rajan and director Rama Narayanan to do a Tamil film Nandri. Simultaneously, he was offered a Telugu film, Kodi Ramakrishna's Maa Pallelo Gopaludu. His career as an actor began to take off in the mid 1980s and he sometimes worked for up to seven shifts in a day to keep up with the films he had committed to do.[20][21]

He subsequently chose to direct his feature film Sevagan (1992), a crime story which opened to mixed reviews, but became a box office success.[22] Soon after, Shankar cast him in the lead role in his first film, Gentleman. Arjun had initially rejected the film without listening to Shankar's narration but the director's persistence prompted him to feature in the film as a vigilante against corruption. The film opened to positive reviews, while Arjun went on to win the State Award for Best Actor.[23][24] Arjun began to gain ground in action films, including his directorial venture Jai Hind (1994) and Karnaa (1995), where he played a dual role.[25] Kamal Haasan approached Arjun to play a police officer in the crime drama film Kurudhipunal (1995), and the actor agreed to do the film even without hearing the narration. Arjun won positive acclaim for his role, while the film became India's official entry for the 68th Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category.[26]

In the late 1990s, his action films often carried a patriotic theme, though he was still able to attract prominent producers and directors.[27] After a series of unsuccessful action films, including his own venture Thaayin Manikodi (1998), he teamed up again with Shankar in the political drama film Mudhalvan (1999). Portraying an ambitious TV journalist who receives the opportunity to become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for a day, Arjun offered bulk dates for filming the project to Shankar.[28] The film subsequently won positive reviews with Arjun described as having "acquitted himself with aplomb in the challenging role".[29] Arjun then briefly experimented in softer roles, portraying critically acclaimed characters of businessman with "shades of grey" in Prabhu Solomon's Kannodu Kanbathellam (1999) and as an energetic civil service officer in Vaanavil (2000). He then featured in Vasanth's romantic drama film Rhythm, where he played a photographer, who eventually falls in love with another widower. Featuring a popular soundtrack and opening to positive reviews, Rhythm also became a commercial a success, with a critic noting "Arjun is as polished as ever" and adding "who would have conceived this idea that the "Action King" could attempt a soft-natured role of this kind".[30] He carried on with a lighter theme in his next directorial venture, the love story Vedham (2001), while he ventured into Telugu cinema again by appearing in Raja's Hanuman Junction and as a Hindu devotee in Sri Manjunatha (2001).

He chose to specialise in action films, often collaborating with directors who specialised in them such as Sundar C, Venkatesh and Selva. In the mid 2000s, he appeared in several action films with the same premise, often portraying a police officer or a local do-gooder. He directed and featured in lead roles in both the action films Ezhumalai (2002) and Parasuram (2003), while also being involved in Maharajan's Arasatchi (2004). Some of his films, Giri (2004) and Marudhamalai, were box office successes, with several of his projects were not, including Madrasi, Vathiyar (2006) and Durai, in all of which he was the story writer.[31] Despite not achieving any significant hit films in the 2000s, producers often considered Arjun as a "minimum guarantee" actor and felt his sizable fan following the four Southern States of India would help recover money even through dubbed versions.[32][33] In a rare experimental film for him in the decade, he portrayed the role of the Hindu deity Hanuman in Krishna Vamsi's devotional film Sri Anjaneyam (2004) and worked on the film without receiving remuneration as a self-confessed worshipper of the deity.[34] He was also cast for a change as a realistic police officer in Bharathiraja's critically acclaimed Bommalattam (2008), where a reviewer felt his "his showcase of the soft, subtle yet unrelenting cop was noteworthy".[35]

Since the turn of the decade, Arjun has attempted to move away from his "action king" image and accepted roles in films where he would play the antagonist or a supporting role, with the move drawing praise from film critics.[36] In 2011, Arjun accepted the opportunity to play an extended guest role alongside Ajith Kumar in Venkat Prabhu's crime thriller Mankatha, with critics praising his performance as a police offer in the blockbuster.[37] The following year he appeared in his 150th film, the Kannada film Prasad, for which he won the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor. Portraying a middle-class father with a deaf and dumb son, Arjun noted it was a rewarding experience for him to break the monotony of his standard roles and attempt something different, admitting he was moved by the script.[38] The film opened to unanimously positive reviews in March 2012 and then was selected to be screened as the Berlin Film Festival, with critics labelling Arjun's portrayal as a "stunning performance" and his "career best".[39] Arjun collaborated with director Mani Ratnam in Kadal (2013), in which the actor portrayed a negative role of a smuggler in coastal Tamil Nadu. While the film opened to mixed reviews and became a box office failure, Arjun won positive reviews for his portrayal with noting Arjun is "deliciously despicable in his career's most memorable negative role" and The Hindu labelling him as "brilliant".[40] He then won acclaim for his portrayal of real life police officer K. Vijay Kumar in the bilingual film Vana Yuddham, the biopic of notorious forest brigand Veerappan, as well as for his role of a paralysed swimming coach in Vasanth's romance film, Moondru Per Moondru Kadal.[41] His latest directorial venture, Jai Hind 2 is a film with a social message about the declining state of the Indian education system. Made at a cost of 20 crore rupees, the film is expected to release in the final quarter of 2014.[42]



Year Film Cast Language Notes
1981 Simhada Mari Sainya Kannada
1984 Pooja Phala Kannada
Male Bantu Male Kannada
Pralayantaka Kannada
Aasha Kannada
Nandri Tamil
Kadamai Jeeva Tamil
1985 Na Ninna Preetisuve Kannada
Avan Tamil
Maa Pallelo Gopaludu Telugu
Yaar? Jagan Tamil
Ilamai Tamil
Sivappu Kili Tamil
Vesham Ashok Tamil
Engal Kural Raja Tamil -Telugu
Nagam Tamil
1986 Prathidvani Telugu
Prema Jyothi Kannada
En Sabadham Tamil
Kulir Kaala Megangal Tamil
Vettai Tamil
Mannemlo Monagadu Telugu
1987 Asha Kannada
Sirai Qaidhi Vijay Tamil
Shankar Guru Shankar Guru Tamil
Kalyana Kacheri Vadivelu Tamil
1988 Thaimel Aanai Raja Tamil
Thaai Paasam Tamil
Thanthai Mel Aanai Bala Ram Tamil
Pattikaatu Thambi Tamil
Dhayam Onnu Arun Tamil
1989 Prema Agni Kannada
Vettai Vilai Tamil
Sondhakkaran Rajadurai Tamil
Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu Raja Tamil
Padicha Pulla Tamil
En Thangai Pandiyan Tamil
Enga Annan Varattum Manikkam Tamil
Annanukku Jai Kaali Tamil
1990 Aatha Naan Pasayitten Chinnasamy Tamil
Thangaikku Oru Thalattu Gopi,
Paatali Magan Gopi Tamil
Manaivi Oru Manikkam Vijay Tamil
Prathap Inspector Prathap Kannada
Periya Idathu Pillai Vijay Tamil
1991 Thanga Thaamaraigal Ramu Tamil
Enga Ooru Sepoy Rasaiyya Tamil
1992 Police Lockup Kannada
Shiva Naga Kannada
Snehada Kadalalli Kannada
Mudhal Kural Karan Tamil
Sevagan Sanjay Tamil Also director
Annan Ennada Thambi Ennada Shankar Tamil
1993 Aleemayya Kannada
Rojavai Killathe Alexander (Duraipandi) Tamil
Prathap Prathap Tamil Also director
Gokulam Kannan Tamil Guest appearance
Gentleman Krishnamoorthy (Kitcha) Tamil Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
Thuruva Natchathiram Suriyadevan Tamil
Karpagam Vandhachu Sakthivel Tamil
1994 Jai Hind Bharath Tamil Also director
Mettuppatti Mirasu Chinnadurai Tamil
Sadhu Sathyamoorthy Tamil
Maa Oori Maharaju Telugu
1995 Mudhal Udhayam Tamil
Karna Karna,
Tamil Also storywriter
Kurudhipunal Abbas Tamil
Ayudha Poojai Krishnasamy Tamil
1996 Subash Subash Tamil
Sengottai Sekhar Tamil
1997 Adimai Sangili Karthikeyan (Kannan) Tamil
1998 Kondattam Raja (Ramu) Tamil
Thaayin Manikodi Arjun Tamil Also director
1999 Suriya Paarvai Vijay Tamil
Mannavaru Chinnavaru Raja Tamil Acted alongside Sivaji Ganesan
Suyamvaram Sanjay Tamil
Kannodu Kanbathellam Seetharam Tamil
Mudhalvan Pughazhendi Tamil Dubbed in Telugu as Oke Okkadu
2000 Vaanavil Surya Tamil
Sudhandhiram Vishwa Tamil
Rhythm Karthikeyan Tamil
2001 Vedham Vijay Tamil Also director
Hanuman Junction Krishna Telugu Dubbed in Tamil as Singakottai
Sri Manjunatha Manjunatha Kannada
2002 Ezhumalai Ezhumalai Tamil Also director
2003 Parasuram Parasuram Tamil Also director
Ottran Karthik Tamil
Puttintiki Ra Chelli Sivanna Telugu Dubbed in Tamil as Anbu Sagotharan
2004 Jai Surya Jai Anand,
Arasatchi Siddarth Tamil
Sri Anjaneyam Lord Anjaneya Telugu Dubbed in Tamil as Hanuman
Giri Giri (Shiva) Tamil
2005 Chinna Chinna Tamil
Aanai Vijay Tamil
2006 Madrasi Kasi Tamil Also director
Vathiyar Annadurai Tamil Also storywriter
2007 Manikanda Manikanda/Raja Tamil
Marudhamalai Marudhamalai Tamil
Thavam Guest Appearance Tamil Also producer
2008 Swagatam Srikanth Telugu Dubbed in Tamil as America to Aminjikarai
Durai Durai (Raja) Tamil Also storywriter
Bommalattam Vivek Tamil
Thiruvannamalai Easwaran/Swamiji Tamil
2009 Vayuputhra Kannada Guest appearance
2010 Rama Rama Krishna Krishna Ashok Deva Telugu Dubbed in Tamil as Gandhipuram
Vandae Maatharam Anwar Hussain Tamil
Vallakottai Muthuvel (Vayuputhran) Tamil
2011 Mankatha Prithviraj Tamil
2012 This Weekend Sanjay Hindi Dubbed in Tamil as Kaatupuli
Maasi Maasilamani Tamil
Prasad Shanker Kannada Winner, Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor[43]
2013 Kadal Bergmans Tamil dubbed in Telugu as Kadali, Vijay Award winner for Best villan - 2013.
Attahasa DGP K. Vijay Kumar Kannada Nominated, SIIMA Award for Best Supporting Actor
Vana Yuddham Tamil dubbed in Telugu as Veerappan
Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal Harris Tamil
2014 Raani Raanamma Telugu Filming[44]
Peralai Tamil Filming[45]
Jai Hind 2 Tamil Filming[46]
Abhimanyu Kannada Filming[47][48][49]
Oppantham Tamil Filming


Year Film Cast Language Notes
1992 Sevagan Kushboo, Nassar, Senthil Tamil
1993 Prathap Kushboo, Senthil Tamil
1994 Jai Hind Ranjitha, Goundamani, Tamil
1998 Thaayin Manikodi Tabu, Nivedita Jain, Tamil
1999 Suyamvaram Prabhu, Karthik, Sathyaraj, R. Parthiban Tamil Guinness World Record Film, made by 14 directors
2001 Vedham Vineeth, Saakshi, Divya Unni, Goundamani Tamil
2002 Ezhumalai Simran, Gajala Tamil
2003 Parasuram Abbas, Kiran, Gayathri Raguram Tamil
2006 Madrasi Jagapati Babu, Vedhicka, Vivek Tamil
2013 Jai hind 2 Surveen Chawla, Charlotte Claire Tamil Filming
2013 Abhimanyu Surveen Chawla, Charlotte Claire Kannada Filming


Year Film Cast Language Notes
1992 Sevagan Kushboo, Nassar, Senthil Tamil Screenplay
1993 Prathap Kushboo, Senthil Tamil Story and Screenplay
1994 Jai Hind Ranjitha, Goundamani, Tamil Story and Screenplay
1995 Karna Ranjitha, Vineetha, Goundamani, Senthil Tamil Story
1998 Thaayin Manikodi Tabu, Nivedita Jain, Goundamani, Vijayakumar Tamil Story and Screenplay
2001 Vedham Vineeth, Saakshi, Divya Unni, Goundamani, Senthil Tamil Story, Screenplay, Dialogue
2002 Ezhumalai Simran, Gajala, Vijayakumar Tamil Screenplay
2003 Parasuram Abbas, Kiran, Gayathri Raguram Tamil Story and Screenplay
2006 Madrasi Jagapati Babu, Vedhicka, Gajala, Vivek Tamil Story and Screenplay
2006 Vathiyar Mallika Kapoor, Vadivelu, Prakash Raj, Manivannan Tamil Story
2008 Durai Kirat Bhattal, Gajala, Vivek Tamil Story and Screenplay


Year Film Cast Language Notes
1992 Sevagan Kushboo, Nassar, Senthil Tamil
1993 Prathap Kushboo, Senthil, Janagaraj Tamil
1998 Thutta Mutta Ramesh Arvind, Kasturi Kannada
2001 Vedham Vineeth, Saakshi, Divya Unni, Goundamani Tamil
2007 Thavam Arun Vijay, Vadivelu, Janagaraj, Vandana, Arpitha Tamil Cameo
2009 Vayuputra Chiranjeevi Sarja, Aindrita Ray Kannada Cameo


Year Film Cast Language Notes
2006 Madrasi Jagapati Babu, Vedhicka, Vivek Tamil


Year Film Song Music director Notes
1995 Karnaa "Hello Miss Chellama" Vidyasagar Sang alongside Chetan, Swarnalatha
2003 Parasuram "Chittukuruvi" A. R. Rahman Sang alongside Swarnalatha, Sriram Parthasarathy
2004 Jai Surya "Kattuna Avala Kattuvenda" Deva Sang alongside Vadivelu


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  15. ^ Nilacharal
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