Dhanush was born to Kasthuri Raja. He completed higher education at St. John’s Matriculation Higher Secondary School Alwarthirunagar and entered acting, after being pressured by his brother to act in Thulluvadho Ilamai movie, director Selvaraghavan. Dhanush was married on 18 November 2004 to actor Rajinikanth’s daughter Aishwarya. They have two sons, named Yatra (b. 10 October 2006) and Linga.(b. 21 June 2010).
Following his upbringing as the son of a noted director, Dhanush debuted under the direction of Kasthuri Raja in the Thulluvadho Ilamai with fellow debutant, Sherin. Upon release, the film fetch up big reviews and was a blockbuster, following the story of his character, Mahesh, and how his friends help him elope with his girlfriend. But Dhanush’s breakthrough film was in his brother Selvaraghavan’s first directorial venture, Kadhal Kondein. The film portrayed Dhanush as a mentally-disturbed youth, Vinodh, who yearned for the love of his friend, played by Sonia Agarwal, eventually turning possessive over her. Upon release, the film won critical acclaim and became a commercial success, catapulting Dhanush into the main foray of actors in Tamil films. Furthermore his next film, released later in 2003, Thiruda Thirudi became a blockbuster. Appearing in his first hero-centric film, Dhanush earned Good reviews for his portrayal opposite debutant Chaya Singh. Furthermore, his performance in the song, Manmadha Rasa, was appreciated, subsequently earning the song cult status.
Despite achieving three profitable ventures in his first three films, Dhanush’s following films all gained mixed reviews and were commercial failures. The first failure was his first action film, Pudhukottaiyilirundhu Saravanan opposite Aparna Pillai, was lamented by critics as a “poor film”. This was followed by Ramana’s Sullan, which received negative reviews. However the film, which had Sindhu Tolani as the lead heroine, was dubbed into Telugu as Maurya. The third and most-criticized failure was Dreams alongside two new heroines. The film directed by his father, like their previous venture was released with reviews claiming it was another adult film. This hampered the film’s progress, and the film remains Dhanush’s biggest failure till date. In 2005, Dhanush had two average grossers in Devathaiyai Kanden and the much-hyped Balu Mahendra’s Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam. The former was a commercial venture, directed by debutant Boopathy Pandian, which despite receiving average reviews on Dhanush’s performance, was dubbed into Telugu, while the latter, an off-beat venture, which featured Dhanush opposite Priyamani, received rave reviews but failed to succeed at the box-office.
Dhanush’s biggest film, in terms of budget, till date is the 2006-released Pudhupettai. The film, re-united him with his brother after their successful previous venture, pitted him against two prominent heroines Sneha and Sonia Agarwal. The movie is about the rites of passages in the life and times of an everyday-man who ends up as a dreaded gangster, ‘Kokki’ Kumar, the role portrayed by Dhanush. A critic praised Dhanush’s realistic portrayal, claiming that “as the innocent boy who transmogrifies into a bloody criminal, Dhanush is utterly believable. The subtle changes in his body language and his ability to give every expression a deeper meaning make the character more interesting. This is certainly one of his better performances.” The film which became universally critically praised, failed to relate to Tamil Nadu audiences and ended up being an above average grosser at the box-office, despite the positive reviews. The film fared marginally better, in the Telugu dubbed version, titled Dhoolpet. Dhanush achieved his first hit in three years with the commercial entertainer Thiruvilayadal Arambam, alongside Shriya Saran and Prakash Raj. The comedy film showed the relationship between a poor man who loved the sister of a businessman. The film was well received by critics and audiences alike.
Dhanush’s first release of 2007, Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram, bombed at the box-office, gaining negative reviews in the process. The film, which was a remake of the successful Kannada language film, Jogi, starred him opposite Meera Jasmine However, his second film Polladhavan released during Diwali 2007, became a blockbuster at the box office, in which his performance was raved. Polladhavan, based on 1948–Italian neorealist The Bicycle Thieves, featured Dhanush opposite Divya Spandana, and the film’s “fresh screenplay” by director Vetrimaran helped the film become a super hit.
The remake of a successful Telugu film directed by his brother, was the plotline for Dhanush’s first 2008 release. Directed by debutant M. Jawahar, Yaaradi Nee Mohini with Nayantara became a big blockbuster at the box-office. He later appeared in a cameo appearance, for his father-in-law Rajnikanth’s venture, Kuselan, being portrayed as himself in a song sequence. His subsequent venture was Suraj’s Padikathavan opposite Tamannaah Bhatia which had a January 2009 release. His performance was praised, with Sify.com citing that “Dhanush is in top form in his dance” and “has improved a lot in action”, with claims that the climax fight featuring him was “outstanding” and the film had become a super hit, giving Dhanush a “hat-trick of successes”. His following 2010 films Kutty and Uthama Puthiran, both collaborations with director Mithran Jawahar, received mixed reviews but were hits.