‘We’re all just actors from India,’ Dhanush says of being labeled a ‘south actor’.

Dhanush At The 'Asuran' Success Meet

Dhanush saw the release of his Hollywood debut The Gray Man this Friday. The Russo Brothers film, which also stars Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling, and Ana de Armas, began streaming on Netflix on July 22. Prior to that, the actor was joined by the film’s directors Anthony and Joe Russo in Mumbai for the film’s official premiere and promotions.

During these promotions, Dhanush spoke to the media about his dislike of the term ‘south actor’. (Also readDhanush asked every The Gray Man crew member ‘how do Russo Brothers know about me’)

In The Gray Man, Dhanush plays Avik San aka The Lone Wolf, a mysterious assassin who crosses paths with the protagonist played by Ryan Gosling. In the original source material–the Mark Greaney book of the same name–Avik’s ethnicity isn’t mentioned. But in the film, he is referred to by Chris Evans’ character as his ‘sexy Tamil friend’. Defending the choice to make Avik San specifically Tamil, Dhanush said, “It’s not absolutely necessary but there is nothing wrong in it. The more the details, the better! Joe Russo told me the more the flavour, the better it is. So, we were just trying to add a little more flavour. I don’t think there is any harm in saying he is a Tamil guy from India.”

However, the actor added that in changing times, this ethnic or regional identity had no place off camera now. Talking about being referred to as a ‘south actor’, Dhanush said, “I would appreciate it if they collectively call us Indian actors, rather than south actors or north actors. The world has shrunk and borders and lines are fading. This is the time to come together and make this one big industry. It is a huge industry. It will be really great if we function together and make movies for everybody, not just south audience or north audience–not regional films but national films.”

The National Award-winner added that the proliferation of streaming platforms has made access to content universal, following which nobody is making content just for the audience of one language. “Every film is for everybody, especially with the digital platforms. Now everybody has easy access to watch everybody’s work. Talents are easily seen. This is a great time to be an actor as well. If you do a good job, if you do your job right, you are noticed by everybody. So, it just doesn’t make sense in these times to call me or anybody else a south actor. We’re just actors from India,” said Dhanush.

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