|Native name||ಅರ್ಜುನ್ ಸರ್ಜ|
15 August 1964
Madhugiri, Mysore State (now Karnataka), India
|Other names||Ashok Babu, Seenu|
|Occupation||Film actor, director, producer, screenwriter, distributor|
|Spouse(s)||Asha Rani (m. 1988)|
|Parent(s)||Shakti Prasad (father)
|Relatives||Kishore Sarja (brother)
Chiranjeevi Sarja (nephew)
Dhruv Sarja (nephew)
Arjun Sarja (born 15 August 1964 as Srinivasa Sarja) is an Indian film actor, producer and director known for his works predominantly in Tamil cinema. He also starred in few Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu films. In 1993, he starred in S. Shankar's blockbuster Gentleman which opened to positive reviews, while Arjun went on to win the State Award for Best Actor. During this time, he starred in hits such as Jai Hind (1994), Karnaa (1995), and the crime drama film Kurudhipunal (1995), for which 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.
In 1999, he starred in the political drama 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. The film subsequently won positive reviews with Arjun described as having "acquitted himself with aplomb in the challenging role". Arjun received the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor for his role as well as numerous other nominations. Arjun then briefly experimented in softer roles with Kannodu Kanbathellam (1999) and as an energetic civil service officer in Vaanavil (2000).
He was then featured in Vasanth's romantic drama film Rhythm, where he played a photographer, who eventually falls in love with a widow. Featuring a popular soundtrack and opening to positive reviews, Rhythm also became a commercial success. 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 the Kannada devotional film Sri Manjunatha (2001). In 2012, he appeared in his 150th film, the Kannada film Prasad screened at the Berlin Film Festival. Arjun won the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor for his work in the film.
Arjun Sarja was born on 15 August 1964, to a Kannada family in Madhugiri,in the erstwhile Mysore State. His father was Shakthi Prasad, a Kannada film actor, and his mother was Lakshmi, an art teacher. He had one elder brother Kishore Sarja, who directed Kannada films. He is married to Asha Rani, a former actress who has appeared in the 1986 Kannada film Ratha Sapthami. Kannada actor Rajesh is his father-in-law. Sarja has two daughters, Aishwarya and Anjana. Aishwarya Arjun made her acting debut in 2013. His nephews Chiranjeevi Sarja and Dhruva Sarja both act in Kannada movies. Another nephew of Arjun, Bharat Sarja, will also be making his acting debut in 2013.
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 child artiste and the director of the film gave him the stage name of Arjun, replacing his original name Ashok Babu. 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. He was mostly collaborating with director Ramanarayanan and also acted on commercially successful action entertainers like Shankar-Guru, Thaai Mel Aanai, Sondhakkaran, Padicha Pulla, Pattikkattu Thambi etc., and fetched the name "Action King".
He subsequently chose to direct his feature film Sevagan (1992), a crime story which opened to mixed reviews, but became a box office success. 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. Arjun began to gain ground in action films, including his directorial venture Jai Hind (1994) and Karnaa (1995), where he played a dual role. 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.
In the late 1990s, his action films often carried a patriotic theme, though he was still able to attract prominent producers and directors. 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. The film subsequently won positive reviews with Arjun described as having "acquitted himself with aplomb in the challenging role". Arjun received the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor for his role as well as numerous other nominations. 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". 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. 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. 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. He was also cast for a change as a realistic police officer in Bharathiraja's critically acclaimed Bommalattam (2008), where a reviewer felt his "showcase of the soft, subtle yet unrelenting cop was noteworthy".
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. 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. 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. 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". 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 Sify.com noting Arjun is "deliciously despicable in his career's most memorable negative role" and The Hindu labelling him as "brilliant". 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. His latest directorial venture, Jai Hind 2 contained a message about the declining state of the Indian education system. Made at a cost of 20 crore rupees, the film became a box office success in Kannada, while the Tamil version did not perform well at the box office.
|1979||Putani Agent 123||Kannada|
|1981||Simhada Mari Sainya||Kannada|
|Male Bantu Male||Kannada|
|Maa Pallelo Gopaludu||Gopalam||Telugu|
|Na Ninna Preetisuve||Kannada|
|Cowboy No. 1||Telugu|
|Shankar Guru||Shankar Guru||Tamil|
|Thayaramma Thandava Krishna||Telugu|
|Doctor Gari Abbai||Telugu|
|Pattikaatu Thambi||Chinna Thambi||Tamil|
|Dhayam Onnu||Arun (Raja / Ilaiyaraja
/ Arjun /
Ignatius Immanuel Inbaraj)
|Enga Annan Varattum||Manikkam||Tamil|
|Manaivi Oru Manickam||Vijay||Tamil|
|Periya Idathu Pillai||Vijay||Tamil|
|Aatha Naan Pass Ayittaen||Chinnasamy||Tamil|
|Thangaikku Oru Thalattu||Gopi,
|Enga Ooru Sippai||Rasaiyya||Tamil|
|Annan Ennada Thambi Ennada||Shankar||Tamil|
|Gentleman||Krishnamoorthy (Kitcha)||Tamil||Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor|
|Rojavai Killathe||Duraipandi (Alexander)||Tamil|
|Maa Voori Maaraju||Telugu|
|1997||Adimai Sangili||Karthikeyan (Kannan)||Tamil|
|Shubhavaarta||Rajendra Prasad "Raja"||Telugu|
|Mannavaru Chinnavaru||Raja||Tamil||100th film|
|Mudhalvan||Pughazhendi||Tamil||Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor|
|Hanuman Junction||Krishna||Telugu||Dubbed in Tamil as Singakottai|
|2004||Puttintiki Ra Chelli||Sivanna||Telugu||Dubbed in Tamil as Anbu Sagodharan|
|Sri Anjaneyam||Lord Anjaneya||Telugu||Dubbed in Tamil as Hanuman|
|2008||Swagatam||Srikanth||Telugu||Dubbed in Tamil as America to Aminjikarai|
|2010||Rama Rama Krishna Krishna||Ashok Deva||Telugu||Dubbed in Tamil as Gandhipuram|
|Vandae Maatharam||Anwar Hussain||Tamil
|2012||This Weekend||Sanjay||Hindi||Dubbed in Tamil as Kaatupuli|
|Prasad||Shankar||Kannada||Winner, Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor Dubbed in Tamil Prasad |
|2013||Kadal||Bergmans||Tamil||Winner, Vijay Award for Best Villain
Dubbed in Telugu as Kadali
|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||Paul Harris Rosario||Tamil|
|2014||Jai Hind 2||Abhimanyu||Tamil
|Oru Melliya Kodu||Tamil|
|2018||Kontract||S. S. Sameer||Kannada||Filming|
As director, producer, writer and distributor
|2014||Jai Hind 2||Tamil|||
|2017||Kadhalin Pon Veedhiyil||Tamil||Filming|
|1995||Mudhal Udhayam||"Raasi Nalla Raasi"||Sankar Ganesh|
|1995||Karnaa||"Hello Miss Chellama"||Vidyasagar||Sang alongside Chetan, Swarnalatha|
|2003||Parasuram||"Chittukuruvi"||A. R. Rahman||Sang alongside Swarnalatha, Sriram Parthasarathy|
|2004||Jaisurya||"Kattuna Avala Kattuvenda"||Deva||Sang alongside Vadivelu|
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- [dead link]
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-  Archived 28 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
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