Dhanush’s Hollywood debut, The Gray Man, was released this Friday. On July 22, the Russo Brothers’ film, which also stars Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling, and Ana de Armas, became available on Netflix. Previously, the actor was in Mumbai with the film’s directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, for the film’s official premiere and promotion. During these promotions, Dhanush expressed his displeasure with the term “south actor.”

Dhanush plays Avik San, aka The Lone Wolf, a mysterious assassin who crosses paths with the protagonist, played by Ryan Gosling, in The Gray Man. Avik’s ethnicity is not mentioned in the original source material, Mark Greaney’s book of the same name. However, in the film, Chris Evans’ character refers to him as his “sexy Tamil friend.” Dhanush defended the decision to make Avik San specifically Tamil, saying, “It’s not absolutely necessary, but there’s nothing wrong with it.” The more specifics, the better! Joe Russo told me that the more flavorful it is, the better it is. So we were simply trying to add some flavour. I don’t think there’s any harm in mentioning that he’s a Tamil from India.”

However, the actor added that in today’s changing times, this ethnic or regional identity has no place off-screen. In response to being labelled as a’south actor,’ Dhanush stated, “I would appreciate it if they collectively called us Indian actors, rather than south or north actors.” The world has shrunk, and borders and lines are becoming obsolete. This is the time to band together and create one large industry. It is a massive industry. It would be fantastic if we could collaborate and make films for everyone, not just the south or north audiences—not regional films, but national films.”

The National Award winner went on to say that the proliferation of streaming platforms has made access to content universal, so no one is creating content for a single language audience. “With the advent of digital platforms, every film is for everyone.” Everyone now has easy access to everyone else’s work. Talents are easily discernible. This is also an excellent time to be an actor. Everyone notices when you do a good job, when you do your job correctly. So, in these times, calling me or anyone else a south actor just doesn’t make sense. “We’re just Indian actors,” Dhanush explained.

While Dhanush’s debut in Hollywood is The Gray Man, he is no stranger to switching languages. After beginning his career in Tamil films in the early 2000s, the actor made his Hindi film debut with Raanjhana in 2013 and has since worked in Shamitabh (2014) and Atrangi Re (2014). (2021). He is also working on Vaathi, a Tamil-Telugu bilingual film (Sir in Telugu). The film, directed by Venky Atluri, also stars Samyuktha Menon. Filming began in January.

By Piya

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