When he made his debut in 1992, no one thought he would turn into the box office king of Kollywood.
Ajith Kumar or Thala Ajith, as he is known by fans, has had an illustrious career on and off the screen from racing bikes and cars to acting and photography. Today, he is one of the highest paid stars in south India.
Ajith came into the Tamil film industry with no Godfather or relative who gave him a big helping hand. It was his hard work and determination to make a success of his career that drove him to new heights.
While director Vasanth’s Aasai pushed him into the limelight, it was National Award-winning film Kadhal Kottai that strongly established his acting prowess. And S J Suryah’s Vaali made him a top star in the Tamil film industry. In fact, by the end of 1999 the actor delivered six hits in a row – a feat that is unmatched till today.
From the young romantic hero and playing roles with shades of grey, Ajith slowly moved into the action hero space. Numerous films of his failed in the 2000s which led to major disappointment personally for him and for his fans too. But this didn’t deter him from rebooting his career and passions on and off the screen.
Ajith took a break to race when he wanted to and got back to films when he wished to. He didn’t and still doesn’t believe in the number game and has faith that his fans would always be there for him. While he loves films and acting, he makes sure that he has time for his other hobbies like racing, aeromodelling or photography.
In fact, he’s one actor who has always created his own path and didn’t play by the so-called rules of the industry. With Mankatha (2011), he debuted the salt-and-pepper look refusing to colour his hair to play hero. While many were shocked, the release of the film and its success showed that he had made the right decision. Women went ga-ga over him while men felt he set a new trend that no one else could carry off.
Now, how did he become the Box Office King? Ajith never takes part in marketing or promotional events for a film and that has always been his mantra.
When director Venkat Prabhu’s Makantha (Ajith’s 50th film) released, there was so much hype that it smashed the box office on the opening weekend. This trend has continued for all his subsequent films be it Arrambam, Veeram or Vedhalam. And right now, all eyes are on his upcoming film Vivegam directed by Siruthai Siva.
Though Thala has the second largest fanbase (after superstar Rajinikanth) in the Tamil film industry, it’s ironic that he disbanded his fan clubs in 2011. In fact, he’s the only Tamil actor to do so till date. The actor was very concerned that his fan clubs were being misused for political interests and he decided to take this bold step.
In his letter he wrote poignantly, “An actor needn’t have any connection on any grounds apart from his profession. It’s more than enough if people feel it good, appreciate or criticize his performance and thusly making his career effective.”
But Ajith’s fanbase continues to increase so much so that he has the biggest presence on social media in the Tamil film industry today. And it’s not just because of his films. He’s one actor who is known to be kind to everyone from the driver to the spot boy to the director. He doesn’t like the philanthropy he does being publicised or being a photo-op and like any normal parent attends all his kids’ school functions.
Today, Ajith is known for his generosity as much as for his salt-and-pepper look, style and punch dialogues on screen. And yes, his humility and elusiveness from the media only add more to his allure. For someone who didn’t play by the rules, Thala Ajith has achieved stardom on his own terms and that perhaps is something no other Kollywood actor can boast of.
Racing to the top
By 2003, Ajith was keen on getting back into motor racing which had been passion all along. At 18, he was set on becoming a bike racer but a major accident changed his life plans. However, acting as a solid career, the actor felt he could take time out to become a car racer. Ajith proved to be successful once again. In 2003, he made his international racing debut in the Formula BMW Asia Championship. In 2004, the actor finished 6th after qualifying 4th in the Korean Formula BMW event. He ended up with podium finishes in the British F3 Scholarship Class too.
In 2010, Ajith returned to the FIA Formula 2 Championship and stated that he had the confidence of achieving success. He spent his own money on this passion of his and was keen that his participation would take the sport to the Indian masses.
Love of co-stars
Ask any co-star about the Kollywood star and they will only gush about him. His Yennai Arindhal co-star Trisha says her all-time favourite hero is Ajith and she loves him as a person too. While actresses like Shruti Haasan, Tamannaah and Lakshmi Menon can’t stop raving about him, nearly every actress who steps into the Tamil film industry has a desire to work with him.
But it’s not just actresses who admire him, it’s also actors, directors and music directors. From Simbu or STR to Yuvan Shankar Raja and Venkat Prabhu, Thala is someone they can’t get enough of on the big screen.
One thing that people who have worked with him will tell you is that Thala Ajith loves to cook. And his favourite dish? Biryani! There are hardly any actors who cook on sets but this star proved that he is a class apart by cooking up a meal on every film he works on in the last few years.
Ajith also makes delectable pasta and barbecues. Bollywood actor Vidyut Jammwal who worked with him in Billa 2 told media that Ajith would just walk into the hotel kitchen and whip up delicious pasta. Vidyut added, “I really think a man who cooks is a complete man.”
Actor Arun Vijay who worked in Yennai Aridhal had tweeted, “Was fun behind the grills, BBQing yesterday…That too beside Pro Ajith Sir.. Was happy to know the whole crew enjoyed it.. #goodtimes.”
Thala Ajith has proved that he is not just versatile when it comes to acting but when it comes to the kitchen too.
Published on First Post dated May 7 , 2017