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Ajith Kumar

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Ajith Kumar
Ajith Cropped Soundarya Wedding.jpg
Ajith in 2010
Born
Ajithkumar Subramaniam

(1971-05-01) 1 May 1971 (age 49)[1]
NationalityIndian
Alma materAsan Memorial Senior Secondary School, Chennai
Occupation
  • Actor
  • race car driver
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)
(m. 2000)
Children2

Ajith Kumar (born 1 May 1971) is an Indian actor who works predominantly in Tamil cinema. Referred to by fans and media as "Thala" (Leader). To date, Ajith has starred in over 50 films. Among his awards include four Vijay Awards, three Cinema Express Awards, three Filmfare Awards South and three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards. In addition to his acting, he is also a motor car racer and participated in the MRF Racing series (2010).

He began his career with a small role in the 1990 Tamil film En Veedu En Kanavar. He established himself as a romantic hero with Kadhal Kottai (1996), Aval Varuvala (1998) and Kadhal Mannan (1998), and established himself as an action hero starting with film Amarkalam (1999). Ajith's dual portrayal of twin brothers—where one is deaf-mute—in S. J. Surya's Vaali (1999) won him his first Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Actor. He earned critical acclaim for his dual role performance in the vigilante film Citizen (2001).[3] In 2006, he starred in Varalaru, in which he played three different roles. It became the highest-grossing Tamil film of 2006.[4] The following year he starred in two remakes—Kireedam (2007) and Billa (2007),[a] both of which earned him critical acclaim.[4] Ajith played an antihero in Mankatha (2011),[5] which became one of the highest-grossing Tamil films of all time.[6] His next release, Billa II (2012), was Tamil cinema's first prequel.[b]

Ajith became a race car driver, competing in circuits around India in places such as Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. He is one among very few Indians to race in the International arena and in Formula championships. He has also been abroad for various races, including Germany and Malaysia. He drove in the 2003 Formula Asia BMW Championships.[8] He raced in the 2010 Formula 2 Championship along with two other Indians, Armaan Ebrahim and Parthiva Sureshwaren.[9] Based on the annual earnings of Indian celebrities, he was included in the Forbes India Celebrity 100 list three times.[10]

Early life

Ajith was born on 1 May 1971, in Hyderabad, India.[1] His father P. Subramaniam is from Palakkad, Kerala[11] and his Sindhi mother Mohini is from Kolkata, West Bengal.[12] He dropped out of Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School in 1986 before completing his higher secondary.[13][13] Ajith 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.[14] Ajith was the middle son out of three brothers, the others being Anup Kumar, an investor, and Anil Kumar, an IIT Madras graduate-turned-entrepreneur.[15]

Acting career

1990–99

Ajith did not speak Tamil as a child as he practiced Sindhi with his mother instead of Tamil, and mastered it only after becoming an actor. Aged 19, Ajith began his acting career and appeared in a song in En Veedu En Kanavar (1990). Later, Ajith was selected by the Telugu film production company Lakshmi Productions, to star in its film; however, the shooting was stalled soon after filming began, following the death of the film's director.[16] Ajith then appeared 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.[13] After the release and while training for an amateur motor race, Ajith suffered a fall, injuring his back and underwent three major surgeries resulting in bed rest for one and a half years.[16] 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.[17]

In 1995, after playing the second lead 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.[18][19] He later played the lead in Kalloori Vaasal, co-starring Prashanth and Pooja Bhatt.[13] Ajith's second successful film came in the form of National Award winning Kadhal Kottai, in which Ajith reunited with Agathiyan, the director of the earlier project Vaanmathi.[20] During Vaanmathi filming, Ajith and Swathi fell in love and the actress even revealed that they are going to get married soon to a Telugu TV channel, however the pair broke up and it still remains a mystery.[21] The film Kadhal Kottai paired him opposite Devayani, with Heera Rajgopal playing a supporting role.[22] Heera, Ajith's then girlfriend, played a major role in shaping Ajith's career.[23]

After the success of his films in 1996, the following year saw a series of five classical successes, one such being Amitabh Bachchan's Tamil production Ullaasam, with Maheswari, in which he was paid a salary of 2 million (equivalent to 8.8 million or US$120,000 in 2019) for the first time.[13] Ajith returned in 1998 with another big, successful project in Saran's Kaadhal Mannan, an action romantic comedy, setting the foundation for an expanding fan base.[13] He also began acting in Vasanth's Nerukku Ner, and was later replaced by Suriya.[24] The 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 performed poorly, his other three films released in 1998 and six in 1999 were box office hits. Ramesh Khanna's Thodarum and Sundar C's romantic drama Unnaithedi opposite Malavika set the tone for a series of big successes.

1999–2007

S. J. Suryah's thriller Vaali, which portrayed him in dual roles for the first time opposite Simran, became one of his biggest hits during that time.[16] 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.[25] 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".[26] The two following 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 Amarkalam, directed by Saran and featuring Shalini, whom he married shortly after the film. Amarkalam told the story of a neglected child who grew up and failed to show feelings of love or affection, becoming a gangster in the process, with Ajith's depiction of his rogue character appreciated by critics.[27]

His next, Mugavaree, won him commercial and critical praise.[28] 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".[29] He also appeared in A. R. Rahman's 2000 musical Kandukondain Kandukondain, directed by Rajiv Menon. The film featured Ajith alongside prominent actor Mammooty and actresses Aishwarya Rai, Tabu and Srividya.[30] 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.[31][32] After giving six straight hits in 1999, and having had Mugavaree and Kandukondain Kandukondain in 2000 as successes, Ajith had an unsuccessful film, Unnai Kodu Ennai Tharuven, co-starring Simran.[27][33]

In 2001, Ajith appeared in three commercially successful Tamil films. Dheena co-starring Laila and Suresh Gopi, released at Pongal and marked the beginning of a new image of Ajith as an action hero who would appeal to the masses.[34] He earned the nickname, "Thala" (Leader), from this film. In the same year, he was offered a role in Nandha, which he rejected and was replaced by Suriya, the eldest son of actor Sivakumar.[35] His next was the much-hyped thriller Citizen, portraying him in ten different get-ups and it became a commercial success at the box office.[36] 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.[37] The year ended off with an appearance in Santosh Sivan's Hindi project Asoka, in which Ajith played as one of the antagonist against Shah Rukh Khan, which did not perform well.[38] In 2002, Ajith appeared in three films, the first two, Red[39] and Raja[40] 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 disabled person and another as a caring brother, became successful and earned his second Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award.[41][42]

From 2003 through 2005, Ajith appeared in fewer films due to his career in motor racing becoming more prominent.[43] 2003 saw the release of his long-delayed Ennai Thalatta Varuvala and the police drama Anjaneya, both failing commercially. In that period, three successful films, namely Saamy, Kaakha Kaakha and Ghajini, were turned away by the actor due to various reasons.[44]

His next film, Jana with Sneha, also became a big failure, with the Saran film Attagasam, being his only hit in the period.[45] 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.[46][47] Of the five films released between 2003 and 2005, his only box office hit was Attagasam.

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.[48] The film enjoyed a moderate success, scoring over Vijay's Aathi, which also released in the same week, at the box office.[49] Critics from The Hindu stated that 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.[50] 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.[51] Similarly, his next film, 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".[52] Ajith summed up a successful comeback by the release of his long-delayed film Varalaru, which went on to become his first biggest success. 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.[53][54] Moreover, the film earned Ajith his third Filmfare Best Actor Award.[55] In 2007, media reports hinted that the actor would do a project with Shankar.[56] 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.[57] 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.[58] During the shooting of the film, Ajith developed a further spinal injury, a recurrence of his problem earlier in his career.[59]

Ajith then starred in Billa, a remake of the 1980 Rajinikanth starrer of the same name. The Vishnuvardhan directorial fetched critical praise for Ajith, becoming a trend-setter for stylish art direction and cinematography in India.[60] 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.

2008–present

After Billa, Ajith appeared in the film, Ayngaran International's production Aegan, directed by the choreographer turned director Raju Sundaram. The film, a remake of the 2004 Hindi comedy Main Hoon Na, received mixed reviews and was a failure at the box office.[61] Following a year 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 bigger expectations.[62]

After a second foray into motor racing, Ajith signed a film directed by Venkat Prabhu, titled Mankatha, which notably became his 50th project.[63] The film featured him in a full-length negative role as Vinayak Mahadevan, a suspended police officer with a lust for money. His performance and his decision to portray a character with negative shade, breaking the stereotype hero image in Tamil cinema,[64][65] 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".[66][67] 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",[66] while the latter wrote that practically "he carried the whole film on his capable shoulders".[67] Mankatha became a financially successful venture.[64]

Ajith and actress Sridevi on the set of English Vinglish (2012)

Ajith then starred in Billa II, a sequel to his 2007 film Billa, which released on 13 July 2012. Reviewers appreciated Ajith's on-screen presence and stunts but blamed him for the choice of story and the director.[68][69][70][71][72] Eventually, the film performed poorly at the box office.[73] He starred in Vishnuvardhan's Arrambam, alongside Arya, Nayantara and Taapsee Pannu, which was released on 31 October, and earned positive reviews from both critics and audience.[74] His next film after Arrambam was Veeram, directed by Siva and co-starring Tamannaah, which was released on Pongal 2014,[75] which also earned positive reviews from critics.[76] Ajith's next film was Yennai Arindhaal, with Gautham Menon as director.[77] Ajith's performance as cop was widely praised with a critic calling it "Ajith's best since Kandukondain Kandukondain".[78] Ajith was subsequently nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil in the 63rd Filmfare Awards South. Ajith worked with Siva again in Vedalam (2015), in which critics praised his performance.[79] His latest project is Vivegam which received mixed to negative reviews with critics citing illogical scenes and average screenplay.[80][81] Viswasam released during Pongal festival of January 2019 is a box office hit having sentiment and action scenes which made it attractive for his fans and family audiences. Nerkonda Parvai which becomes the 2nd movie for Ajith in 2019.

Other works

In 2004, Ajith was signed as Nescafe's brand ambassador in Tamil Nadu.[82] Later, he has limited his appearance to the silver screen by not appearing or promoting any commercials.

Ajith Kumar is passionate about UAVs and drones.[83] Recently he has been appointed as the test pilot and UAV system advisor by Madras Institute of Technology[84] for Medical Express-2018 UAV Challenge.

Racing career

Ajith Kumar in the MRF racing series (2010) in Chennai

Ajith became a racing driver, competing in circuits around India in places such as Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. He is one among very few Indians to race in the International arena and in Formula championships. He has also been abroad for various races, including Germany and Malaysia. He drove in the 2003 Formula Asia BMW Championships.[8] He raced in the 2010 Formula 2 Championship along with two other Indians, Armaan Ebrahim and Parthiva Sureshwaren.[9]

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 twelfth.[85]

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.[86] The decision to be involved in the sport was made after Ajith's film directed by Gautham Menon was delayed, allowing him to participate in the whole season.[87] Prior to signing up, he 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.[88]

Personal life

Media reports that Ajith has dated actresses Swathi and Heera Rajagopal.[89] In 1999, during the shoot of Saran's Amarkalam, Ajith began to date his co-star Shalini[90] At that time, their involvement made him a regular subject of tabloid gossip. Despite the fact actor Ramesh Khanna advised Ajith not to marry an actress,[91] Ajith proposed to actress Shalini in June 1999 and they were married in April 2000 in Chennai.[92] On 3 January 2008, their daughter, Anoushka, was born in Chennai.[93][94] On 2 March 2015, their second child, a son Aadvik was born.[95][96] [97] Through his marriage to actress Shalini, he became brother-in-law to actor Richard Rishi and actress Shamili, who appeared as his sister-in-law in Rajiv Menon's Kandukondain Kandukondain.

Filmography

Awards

Notes

  1. ^ Kireedam was a remake of the namesake 1989 Malayalam film while Billa was a remake of the 1980 Tamil film of the same name.
  2. ^ The film was a prequel to his 2007 film of the same name.[7]

References

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External links