Dhanush is an Indian film actor, producer, lyricist and singer known for his work in Tamil cinema. He made his acting debut in 2002 with the coming of age drama, Thulluvadho Ilamai, directed by his father Kasthuri Raja. His role as a mentally-disturbed man in Kadhal Kondein (2003)—directed by his brother Selvaraghavan—won him critical acclaim. The following year, he starred in Subramaniam Siva's Thiruda Thirudi, a commercial success. This was followed by a series of commercial failures—Pudhukottaiyilirundhu Saravanan (2004), Sullan (2004) and Dreams (2004). He had two releases in 2005—Devathayai Kanden and Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam. The former was a financial success, and the latter brought him critical acclaim.
In 2006, Dhanush starred in the mob film Pudhupettai, which was critically acclaimed and moderately successful at the box-office. He next collaborated with debutant director Vetrimaaran in Polladhavan (2007). Based on the Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves, it was critically acclaimed and commercially successful. His subsequent releases—Yaaradi Nee Mohini (2008) and Padikkadavan—were box-office successes. He collaborated with Vetrimaaran for the second time in Aadukalam (2011). His role as a rooster fight jockey in the film won him that year's National Film Award for Best Actor and the Best Tamil Actor Award at the 60th Filmfare Awards South. The following year, he received international attention with the song "Why This Kolaveri Di", which was recorded for Aishwarya R. Dhanush's directorial debut 3. His role as a man who is suffering from bipolar disorder in the film won him his second Filmfare Award.
Dhanush made his Bollywood debut with Aanand L Rai's Raanjhanaa (2013). His performance as an obsessive one-sided lover in the film won him the Best Male Debut Award and earned a Best Actor nomination at the 59th Filmfare Awards. The same year he was seen in the survival film Maryan, which won him Best Actor (Critics) at the 61st Filmfare Awards South. In 2014, he produced and starred in cinematographer Velraj's directorial debut, Velaiilla Pattadhari, which went on to become the highest-grossing film in his career. His performance as an unemployed graduate won critical acclaim and a third Filmfare Award in the Best Tamil Actor category. He co-starred with Amitabh Bachchan in R. Balki's Shamitabh (2015), where he played a mute superstar. He played three roles in K. V. Anand's romantic thriller Anegan, a moderate success. He followed that with Maari, a critical and commercial failure, and Thanga Magan, a moderate financial success. Dhanush had two releases in 2016—Prabhu Solomon's Thodari, a critical and commercial failure, and the political thriller Kodi, where he played dual roles.