From Unknown Director to Bollywood’s Big Stars: The Atlee Phenomenon


Atlee, a 36-year-old director, has emerged as a notable figure in the film industry, attracting the attention of superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and Vijay Thalapathi for collaborations. Currently, he is making headlines for his upcoming film ‘Jawan,’ scheduled to release on September 7, 2023, featuring Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara, and Vijay Sethupathi. In this edition of the Saturday Superstar Series, let’s delve into the journey of Atlee, a director who has helmed a total of five highly successful films, and has even ventured into film production, with two films to his credit.

Atlee’s directorial journey commenced at the remarkably young age of 19 when he embarked on a career in filmmaking. He began his journey as an assistant director in the South Indian film industry, collaborating with the renowned director S. Shankar on the 2010 film ‘Endhiran,’ known as ‘Robot’ in Hindi.


His passion for the world of cinema was evident during his college years when he decided to pursue a degree in visual communication. Supported wholeheartedly by his family, Atlee, in collaboration with his friends, crafted a short film titled ‘En Mel Vizhundha Mazhai Thuli’ (The Raindrop That Fell on Me). This short film not only gained acclaim at the college level but also received accolades and awards.

After honing his skills for three years, Atlee took the plunge into directing his own film, ‘Raja Rani,’ a Tamil romantic comedy. Not only did he direct the film, but he also penned the screenplay. Starring Arya, Jai, and Nayanthara, ‘Raja Rani’ received a positive response and marked an impressive directorial debut for Atlee, earning double its production budget.

Superstar Vijay Thalapathi himself took notice of Atlee’s talent after viewing ‘Raja Rani’ and personally reached out to him. Impressed by Atlee’s achievements and directorial finesse, Vijay expressed his keen interest in collaborating with him. The very next day, Atlee visited Vijay’s residence and presented an intriguing film idea that captivated Vijay. This partnership gave rise to the 2016 film ‘Theri,’ which surpassed the 100 crore rupee milestone at the box office and emerged as a colossal success.

During the making of ‘Theri,’ Atlee drew inspiration from the triumph of Salman Khan’s ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan.’ He was so deeply moved by the film that he sought to collaborate with its writer, V. Vijayendra Prasad, who also happens to be the father of director S.S. Rajamouli. Atlee shared his vision for ‘Mersal,’ and Vijayendra Prasad enthusiastically agreed to craft the screenplay. The movie featured Vijay in the lead role and went on to become another blockbuster.

Atlee’s subsequent triumph was ‘Bigil,’ where he reunited with Vijay Thalapathi, and the film achieved remarkable success at the box office. Riding high on this series of victorious partnerships, Atlee decided to take on a new challenge by approaching Shah Rukh Khan with the script of ‘Jawan.’ Although Shah Rukh Khan was initially unacquainted with Atlee, the compelling narrative of ‘Jawan’ convinced him to join hands with the talented director. The performance of ‘Jawan’ at the box office now eagerly awaits judgment.

In summation, Atlee has directed a total of five films, each of which has achieved outstanding success:

  1. ‘Raja Rani’ (2013) – Grossed 65 crore rupees.
  2. ‘Theri’ (2016) – Grossed 105 crore rupees.
  3. ‘Mersal’ (2017) – Grossed 135 crore rupees.
  4. ‘Bigil’ (2019) – Grossed 171 crore rupees.
  5. ‘Jawan’ (2023) – Scheduled for release on September 7, 2023.

Leave a Reply