In the world of Tamil cinema, few directors can match the spectacular success achieved by Atlee, also known as Arun Kumar. With just four films under his belt, he has catapulted himself into the league of leading directors. One might say that his newfound fame can be attributed to his latest creation, ‘Jawan.’
Here is Atlee’s journey from humble beginnings to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the film industry.
Born in Madras in 1986, Atlee’s fascination with films began at a young age, igniting his dream of becoming a filmmaker. His career commenced as an assistant director under the legendary Shankar, a pivotal moment that would shape his cinematic journey. It was during his tenure with Shankar that he was profoundly influenced by the film ‘Enthiran’ and learned invaluable lessons from the master himself.
In 2011, Atlee ventured into the world of short films, creating ‘Mugaputhagam,’ which garnered widespread acclaim. It was evident that Atlee possessed a unique storytelling ability, setting the stage for his directorial debut, ‘Raja Rani.’
However, Atlee’s life took a significant turn when he received the opportunity to collaborate with Vijay in ‘Theri.’ Their initial meeting occurred during the filming of ‘Nanban,’ but it was ‘Raja Rani’ that convinced Vijay to work with him. ‘Theri’ became a box office sensation, emerging as the second highest-grossing Tamil film of 2016.
The following year, Atlee created ‘Mersel,’ a film infused with social and emotional elements. Not only did this project propel Vijay to even greater fame, but it also solidified Atlee’s status as a formidable director. ‘Mersel’ went on to become the highest-grossing Tamil film, amassing ₹250 crores worldwide. Its global appeal was further underscored when it was screened at Europe’s largest cinema theatre, the Grand Rex in France.
As expectations continued to soar, Atlee proved his mettle by directing ‘Bigil,’ the highest-grossing film of 2019. He had officially become an A-list director who not only understood his audience but also struck the perfect balance between commercial success and conveying a meaningful message through his films.
Atlee’s ambitions didn’t stop at directing; he ventured into film production with his company, ‘A For Apple Productions.’ His production ventures, ‘Sangili Bungili’ and ‘Andhaghaaram,’ further established him as a multifaceted talent in the industry.
However, Atlee’s journey has not been without its share of controversies. He has faced criticism for alleged plagiarism, with cinephiles pointing out instances where he appeared to directly copy scenes from Korean movies and legendary filmmakers like Mani Ratnam. ‘Bigil’ was also accused of drawing inspiration from ‘Chak De India!’ But Atlee has defended his approach, stating that, more than an expression of art, he creates movies with a keen eye on their potential market success.
As the anticipation builds for his upcoming project, ‘Jawan,’ Atlee has fans and critics alike eagerly waiting to see what surprises he has in store. With his track record of delivering larger-than-life films, one thing is certain: Atlee’s impact on Tamil cinema is undeniable, and his collaboration with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan promises to be nothing short of a cinematic spectacle that will captivate audiences across the country. As we await the release of ‘Jawan,’ there is no doubt that Atlee’s star continues to rise in the world of Indian cinema.