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Why fans are going wild over Tamil actor Dhanush appearing in ‘The Gray Man’

After his song “Why This Kolaveri Di” went viral 11 years ago, Dhanush is back on the global scene, and fans are excited.
Indian actor Dhanush
Indian actor Dhanush at the premiere of "The Gray Man" in Hollywood on Wednesday. Valerie Macon / AFP - Getty Images

Eleven years after Tamil actor Dhanush first went viral in the South Asian community, he’s back. This time he’s on a global stage as part of the star-studded Netflix movie “The Gray Man.”

The actor, 38, and his two young sons appeared on the red carpet Thursday alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names, such as Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling. In “The Gray Man,” a thriller set to release on Netflix next week, Dhanush plays assassin Avik San who targets a CIA mercenary (Gosling) after the latter uncovers government secrets.

Many fans who celebrated his appearance remember Dhanush from the music video for his 2011 song “Why This Kolaveri Di,” which became an internet sensation across Asia and the diaspora. In the comical love song, Dhanush combined simple Tamil and English lyrics to describe a woman breaking a man’s heart. 

An award-winning Tamil movie star, Dhanush has been acting since 2002. Tamil audiences, who get little representation in mainstream Bollywood or Western media, say they are thrilled to see Dhanush making his debut in a highly anticipated Hollywood film. 

“I can not explain how EXCITED I am for The Gray Man. My favorite Hollywood Actor, Chris Evans and Dhanush, the actor I grew up watching are in the same movie!!” one person tweeted

“The Gray Man could have an ensemble cast but all I care for is Dhanush,” another said

In an interview posted by Netflix India earlier this week, Dhanush described the movie as a roller coaster.

“It has everything: action, drama, pace, crazy stunts and an epic chase,” he said. “I’m very grateful that I got to do a modest role in this movie full of incredible people.”

Dhanush in "The Gray Man."
Dhanush in "The Gray Man."Netflix

But the action flick is a far cry from the song that made him a global phenomenon.

“Cow-u cow-u holy cow-u, I want you here now-u,” one verse goes. 

The song, which was part of the soundtrack for Dhanush’s movie “3,” is still referenced in memes today and has amassed more than 330 million views on YouTube. It even earned him an invite to a dinner party with Manmohan Singh and Yoshihiko Noda, then the prime ministers of India and Japan, respectively.

“Kolaveri” inspired worldwide flash mobs, parodies and media attention for the actor, whose career continued to flourish in the years that followed. He has since been in dozens of films and has taken home National Film Awards and a Filmfare Award, one of the highest honors in Indian media.