Arjun Sarja, the "Action King" of Kollywood (Tamil Cinema), has more than 150 films to his credit as an actor and a director. Born to a Kannada film actor, the industry wasn`t unfamiliar to Arjun. He began his career in Kannada movies just like his father but received offers for films in Tamil and Telugu languages as well. Arjun won the State Award for the Best Actor for the Tamil movie Gentlemen (1993), which was appreciated by critics as well as the audiences. In 1995, his film Kurudhipunal, a crime drama made it to the 68th Academy Awards as India`s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film. In 1999, he portrayed an ardent journalist in the political drama Mudhalvan. This movie was critically acclaimed as well as received well at the box office. Mudhalvan was translated in Telugu as Oke Okkadu and remade in Bengali as Minister Fatakeshto (2007) starring Mithun Chakraborty
, and in Hindi as Nayak (2001) starring Anil Kapoor
. In 2000, he featured in a romantic drama Rhythm that received positive reviews and was a commercial success. In Tollywood, the Telugu film industry, he is famous for his movie Hanuman Junction (2011), which was later dubbed into Tamil. In 2012, his 150th film Prasad
, which was made in Kannada, was screened at the Berlin Film Festival.
Arjun Sarja was born on September 15, 1962 as Ashok Babu in Madhugiri, Mysore, India to Shakthi Prasad
and his wife Lakshmi. His father did not want him to take up acting as a profession hence rejected a couple of film offers Ashok received as a teenager. In 1981, Ashok agreed to act in the movie Simhada Mari Sainya as a child artist, directed by Rajendra Singh Babu
, who gave him the stage name Arjun. Arjun`s father later accepted his career as an actor.
Arjun got married to former Kannada actress Asha Rani in 1988, and together the two have two daughters; Aishwarya Arjun
, who made her acting debut in 2013, and Anjana Arjun.
As an Actor
After donning the stage name Arjun, he featured in the Kannada movie Simhada Mari Sainya (1981) followed by Telugu film Maa Pallelo Gopaludu (1985), and Tamil film Nandri (1984). He worked with director Ramanarayanan
for the movies Shankar-Guru (1987), Thaai Mel Aanai (1988), Pattikkattu Thambi (1988), Sondhakkaran (1989), and Padicha Pulla (1989) to name a few, which were all commercially successful action movies. This streak of action films fetched him the name "Action King."
He took up a dual role after 1992 as he directed and played the lead role in movies like Sevagan (1992), a crime story, Jai Hind (1994), and Karnaa (1995). His role in Gentlemen (1993) as a vigilante against corruption won him the State Award for Best Actor. In 1995, Kuruthipunal by Kamal Haasan
won Arjun`s portrayal of a police officer positive acclaim, and it was India`s official entry for best foreign language film at 68th Academy Awards. In 1999, he received the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor for his role in the movie Mudhalvan. In 2000, he experimented with a romantic film, Rhythm, which opened to positive reviews and considerable commercial success with its modern soundtrack. He played another different character than his usual performances where he played the antagonist in Mani Ratnam
(2013) but unfortunately it did not perform as expected at the box-office but Arjun`s performance was appreciated. The year 2014 saw the release of his movie multilingual movie titled Jai Hind 2
in Tamil and Telugu, and Abhimanyu
in Kannada, which was dubbed in Hindi titled Arjun Ka Badla. His 2019 releases include Kolaigaran, Kurukshetra and Hero.
As a Director
His directorial debut Sevagan (1992), a Tamil film, received mixed reviews but was a box-office success. With his other releases Jai Hind (1994) and Karnaa (1995), he started making a mark in action movies. Although Thaayin Manikodi (1998) did not do well at the box office, he chose to specialize in action movies and started collaborating with directors known for the premise. He then directed and starred in Ezhumalai (2002) and Parasuram
(2003), and was a story writer for Madrasi (2006), Vathiyar (2006) and Durai (2006). The 2014 release Jai Hind 2
was a box office success in Kannada but failed to impress the Tamil audiences.