In Aneethi, when Arjun Das stutters to convey his thoughts, pausing now and then as he puts words together, you feel for him. His voice manages to effortlessly convey the pain of a man battling depression and recurrent murderous thoughts. From Kaithi (2019) to Butta Bomma, his voice could arguably be considered one of his biggest assets. But before he was recognised for his voice, it was once a reason for rejections.
Speaking to Film Companion, Arjun Das opens up about his early days in cinema and the rejections he faced before getting his break with Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Kaithi. “I initially thought that I would make it in 2- 3 years. But it took me around 8-9 years before I got my first break. After quitting my job in Dubai and coming back to Chennai, I attended many auditions and met with many major directors. But there were many failed auditions and rejections due to my voice.”
This might come as a surprise for his fans, considering he is known for his unique timbre, but there are people who love his voice, and some who don’t, he adds. “I used to take part in all elocution and debate competitions in school and at that point my voice was my biggest strength. But later on in life, people began making fun of my voice and told me it was very strange. However, I am thankful to everyone who likes my voice and I imagine that after seeing me in more films in the future, many more people will accept it as part of my performances.” While his voice might lend itself well to morally grey roles, Arjun says that’s not the case anymore. “I have a lot of lead roles in the pipeline. But if Lokesh calls me to work in one of his films, it will either be something like my role in Master (2021) or a negative role. But it’s his movie, so I’ll never say no.”
The actor has been a mainstay of social media discussions ever since the promos of Vijay and Lokesh’s Leo (2023) were released, with fans speculating about his presence in the film. When probed about his process for selecting scripts the actor says, “I view it from an audience perspective. All these senior directors who are approaching me now have made some of my most favourite films. So I will never miss the chance to meet and work with them after hearing only a one-line narration. For other directors, too, I make it a point to give them the time to do a full presentation as I have also been in their position for years. So, I try to be open to all sorts of scripts and characters that come my way.”