21 September 1986
|Alma mater||Sathyabama University|
Arun Kumar (born 21 September 1986), known professionally as Atlee, is an Indian film director, screenwriter and producer best known for his work in Tamil films.  He initially worked as an assistant director under S. Shankar in the films Enthiran (2010) and Nanban (2012). He made his directorial debut with the film Raja Rani (2013), produced by Fox Star Studios, for which he was awarded Best Debut Director by the Vijay Award and the Tamil Nadu State award for best dialogue writer.
He directed the films Theri (2016), Mersal (2017) and Bigil (2019), all featuring Vijay, all of which became commercially successful at the box office and won several accolades. He then directed the Hindi-language Jawan (2023) starring Shah Rukh Khan, which emerged as his highest-grossing release. Atlee ranks among the most successful directors in Indian Cinema.
Atlee began his career at the age of 19, as an assistant director to director S. Shankar for the films Enthiran (2010) and Nanban (2012), a remake of the Hindi film 3 Idiots. His short film, Mugaputhagam (2011), received a massive response from the public and across various media platforms. In 2013, Atlee went on to make his directorial debut with Raja Rani, a rom com produced by A. R. Murugadoss, Fox Star Studios, and Next Big Films. It starred Arya, Jai, Nayanthara, Nazriya Nazim, and Sathyaraj. It earned over ₹50 crores at the box office and won him the Best Debut Director award at the Vijay Awards.
Following the success of Raja Rani, Atlee went on to direct his next film, Theri (2016), an emotional action thriller, produced by Kalaipuli S. Thanu, starring Vijay, Samantha, and Amy Jackson in the lead roles. It received mixed reviews from the critics who praised the performances of the cast, soundtrack, score, cinematography, production design, and action sequences. Grossing over ₹156 crores at the box office, it emerged as a huge commercial success and became the second highest grossing Tamil of 2016.
In 2017, Atlee went on to direct Mersal, an action thriller, produced by Thenandal Studio Limited. Again starring Vijay, it also had Nithya Menen, Kajal Aggarwal, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, S. J. Surya, Sathyaraj, Vadivelu, Hareesh Peradi, and Kovai Sarala appear in pivotal supporting roles. It was a commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing films in Tamil cinema, grossing more than ₹250 crores worldwide. The film became the recipient of various accolades. The film was released on 6 December 2018 in China by HGC Entertainment. Due to demand, the film was screened at the largest cinema theatre in Europe Grand Rex, France. The film was screened at the Hainan International Film Festival in Hainan, China and at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea.
Atlee directed his next film, Bigil (2019), a sports action drama, produced by AGS Entertainment. He reunited for the third and second time with Vijay and Nayanthara, respectively. It also starred Jackie Shroff, Vivek and Kathir in other prominent roles. The music was composed by A. R. Rahman. Upon release, it received mixed-to-positive reviews and emerged as the highest-grossing Tamil film of 2019, collecting ₹310 crore upon its release. It also became one of the highest-grossing Tamil films of all-time and highest-grossing film of Vijay's career.
He also ventured into producing films. In 2017, Atlee and his wife, Priya Atlee, started their own production house, A for Apple Productions. They jointly produced their first film with Fox Star Studios, Sangili Bungili Kadhava Thorae, a horror comedy, written and directed by Ike. It starred Jiiva, Sri Divya, and Soori in the lead roles.
In 2020, Atlee and Priya produced their second film, Andhaghaaram, a supernatural horror thriller film, written and directed by V. Vignarajan. It was produced by Priya Atlee, alongside Sudhan Sundaram, and Jayaram, under their banner, Passion Studio and K. Poornachandra's O2 Pictures. It starred Arjun Das, Vinoth Kishan, and Kumar Natarajan in the lead roles along with Pooja Ramachandran and Misha Ghoshal in supporting roles. It was released directly on Netflix for streaming, on 24 November 2020.
Atlee made his debut in Hindi cinema with Jawan, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara, Vijay Sethupathi, Priyamani, Sanya Malhotra, Ridhi Dogra, along with others. Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Dutt made a special appearance and cameo appearance, respectively, in the film. It was produced by Khan's wife, Gauri Khan, and Gaurav Verma, under Red Chillies Entertainment. The music was composed by Anirudh Ravichander. It released on 7 September 2023 to generally positive reviews from both the critics and audience, alike. It set the record for a Hindi film grossing ₹75 crores (US$9.4 million) on its opening day. It grossed ₹520.79 crores worldwide in its opening weekend.
As director, writer and producer
|2017||Sangili Bungili Kadhava Thorae||No||No||Yes|||
|2023||Jawan||Yes||Yes||No||Hindi||Partially reshot in Tamil|
|2012||Nanban||In the song "Asku Laska"|
|2019||Bigil||In the song "Singapenney"|
|2023||Jawan||In the song "Zinda Banda"|
|Films||Ruben||T. Muthuraj||Sai Dheena||Shobi||Yogi Babu||Vijay||Nayanthara||G. K. Vishnu||Vivek (lyricist)||Manobala||Rajendran||Samantha Ruth Prabhu||Amritha Aiyer|
|Raja Rani (2013)|
|Theri (2016)||deleted scene||uncredited|
|Jawan (2023)||Tamil version||Tamil version|
Criticism relating with scripts
Atlee's films, though commercially highly successful, have been criticized for having overly-familiar stories that have been done-to-death, starting from the 1980's of Tamil cinema. Raja Rani was described as an upgraded version of Mouna Ragam (1986), while Theri was described as inspired by Chatriyan (1990). Mersal was described as an upgraded version of Apoorva Sagodharargal (1989). Bigil was described as "Chak De! India (2007) on steroids". Atlee has countered that, despite having been sued for plagiarism numerous times, he has won all the cases against him.
|Raja Rani||Tamil Nadu State Film Awards 2013||Best Dialogue Writer||Won|||
|Edison Awards||Best Debut Director||Won|
|8th Vijay Awards||Best Debut Director||Won|||
|Best Story, Screenplay Writer||Nominated|
|3rd SIIMA Awards||Best Debut Director||Nominated|
|Theri||2nd IIFA Utsavam||Best Director – Tamil||Won|||
|Behindwoods Gold Medal||People's Choice Director||Won|||
|6th SIIMA Awards||Best Director – Tamil||Won|||
|64th Filmfare Awards South||Best Director – Tamil||Nominated|||
|Mersal||Edison Awards 2018||Best Director||Won|||
|65th Filmfare Awards South||Best Director – Tamil||Nominated|||
|7th SIIMA Awards||Best Director||Won|||
|Techofes Awards||Best Director||Won|||
|10th Vijay Awards||Favourite Director||Won|||
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"Pro Shows". Techofes. Archived from the original on 19 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
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"Stars of the Night". Hotstar. 17 June 2018. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2018.