The film portrayed Dhanush as a mentally-disturbed youth, Vinodh, who yearned for the love of his friend, played by Sonia Agarwal, eventually turning possessive over her. Upon release, the film won critical acclaim and became a commercial success, capitulating Dhanush into the main foray of actors in Tamil films. Furthermore his next film, released later in 2003, Thiruda Thirudi became a blockbuster. Appearing in his first hero-centric film, Dhanush earned Good reviews for his portrayal opposite debutant Chaya Singh. Furthermore, his performance in the song, Manmadha Rasa, was appreciated, subsequently earning the song cult status. Dhanush's biggest film, in terms of budget, til date is the 2006-released Pudhupettai. The film, re-united him with his brother after their successful previous venture, pitted him against two prominent heroines Sneha and Sonia Agarwal. The movie is about the rites of passages in the life and times of an everyday-man who ends up as a dreaded gangster, 'Kokki' Kumar, the role portrayed by Dhanush. A critic praised Dhanush's realistic portrayal, claiming that "as the innocent boy who transmogrifies into a bloody criminal, Dhanush is utterly believable.
The subtle changes in his body language and his ability to give every expression a deeper meaning make the character more interesting. This is certainly one of his better performances." The film which became universally critically praised, failed to relate to Tamil Nadu audiences and ended up being an above average grosser at the box-office, despite the positive reviews. The film fared marginally better, in the Telugu dubbed version, titled Dhoolpet. Dhanush achieved his first hit in three years with the commercial entertainer Thiruvilayadal Arambam, alongside Shriya Saran and Prakash Raj. The comedy film showed the relationship between a poor man who loved the sister of a businessman.
The film was well-received by critics and audiences alike. Dhanush's first release of 2007, Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram, bombed at the box-office, gaining negative reviews in the process. The film, which was a remake of the successful Kannada language film, Jogi, starred him opposite Meera Jasmine However, his second film Polladhavan released during Diwali 2007, became a blockbuster at the box office, in which his performance was raved. Polladhavan, based on 1948–Italian neorealist The Bicycle Thieves, featured Dhanush opposite Divya Spandana, and the film's "fresh screenplay" by director Vetrimaran helped the film become a super hit. The remake of a successful Telugu film directed by his brother, was the plotline for Dhanush's first 2008 release. Directed by debutant M. Jawahar, Yaaradi Nee Mohini with Nayantara became a big blockbuster at the box-office.
He later appeared in a cameo appearance, for his father-in-law Rajnikanth's venture, Kuselan, being portrayed as himself in a song sequence. His subsequent venture was Suraj's Padikathavan opposite Tamannaah Bhatia which had a January 2009 release. His performance was praised, with Sify.com citing that "Dhanush is in top form in his dance" and "has improved a lot in action", with claims that the climax fight featuring him was "outstanding" and the film had become a super hit, giving Dhanush a "hat-trick of successes". His following 2010 films Kutty and Uthama Puthiran, both collaborations with director Mithran Jawahar, received mixed reviews and but were decent hits. His first 2011 release was Aadukalam, marking his second collaboration with Vetrimaran, which Dhanush had shot for over a period of three years. Dhanush played the role of a local cockfighter, KP Karuppu and described the venture as his "dream project" during production. The film gained very positive reviews and won six prizes at the 58th National Film Awards, with Dhanush receiving accolades for his performance including the National Film Award for Best Actor, becoming the youngest actor to win the award. Dhanush appeared in an extended guest appearance in Subramania Siva's Seedan, portraying the role of a god. His next two ventures were action-masala films Mappillai, a remake of his father-in-law's same-titled 1989 comedy flick and Venghai by Hari, which both opened to mixed reviews, with former becoming super hit and latter becoming an average grosser at the box office. His forthcoming venture includes another collaboration with his brother in Mayakkam Enna and he will also be seen in 3 directed by his wife, Aishwarya Rajinikanth with Shruti Haasan paired opposite him.
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