Dhananjaya, mostly known as ‘Daali’ or ‘Dolly,’ is an Indian actor, producer, and lyricist, who has worked in Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu films.
Dhananjaya was born as Kalenahalli Adaviswamy Dhananjaya on Saturday, 23 August 1986 (age 35 years; as of 2021) in Kalenahalli Arsikere, a village in Hassan district, Karnataka. His zodiac sign is Virgo. Dhananjaya completed his schooling at St. Mary’s High School in Arasekere Taluk, Hassan district and then moved to Mysore for further studies. He then did a PUC (Pre-university course) from Marimallapa College and got an engineering seat in one of the prestigious colleges of Mysore, SJCE (Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering).
Height (approx.): 6′ 0″
Weight (approx.): 85 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
His father, Adaviswamy, was a government primary school teacher. His mother’s name is Savitramma.
After completing college, he got a job in a software company, Infosys. However, after developing an interest in acting, he joined a theatre group GPIER. He also worked under German theatre artist, Christian Stuckl, in Germany. His career began in Sandalwood (Kannada Cinema) when he was first recognised by a Kannada director Guruprasad, who offered him a lead role in a feature film.
His debut film was Director’s Special, directed by Kannada film director, Guruprasad. This film was started in 2010 and it took 3 years to complete this film. Finally, this film was released in 2013. After the success of this movie, he started getting offers for different roles. He was then seen in A. P. Arjun’s film, Rhaatee. He made his debut in Tollywood with Ram Gopal Varma’s, Bhairava Geetha. After this, Dhananjaya was featured in various lead roles, but most of his films didn’t work well in cinema. He gave 7 flops back to back. Although his films did not make a huge impact on the box office, his acting skills were continuously appreciated by his fans and critics. In 2021, Ratan Prapancha was his first film to be released on a digital platform, Amazon Prime. He believes that OTT platforms are helping Kannada Industry in growing high. He said in an interview,
It’s (OTT release) is definitely beneficial. So many films have recently been released on OTT. It’s a big platform for actors and producers and at the same time OTT film has a bigger reach.”
When a Hero turned into a Villan
A major turning point came in his career when he was offered a negative role in the film Tagaru directed by Duniya Suri. The name of his character was ‘Daali’ which got stuck with him for the rest of his life. This film was a blockbuster hit and Dhananjaya’s performance as a don won the hearts of not only the audience but the critics and the film fraternity. After the success of Tagaru, he was seen portraying negative roles in various films like Yajamana, Yuvarathna, and many more. He again collaborated with director Suri for the film Popcorn Monkey Tiger. His realistic acting in the movie made the audience hate his character, Seena. He shared in an interview that his character Seena was the most difficult role that he had done yet. He said,
Seena in PMT is my most challenging role yet. As an actor I need fresh experiences. It was quite difficult to come out of the character,” he admits. Suri and RGV have had a huge influence on his growth. “They talk about life, philosophy and relations. Suri has reinvented himself and is always in search of something new.”
Dhananjaya as Producer, Lyricist, and Writer
Dhananjaya has its own production house named Daali pictures. His first picture as a producer was Badava Rascal, and after that, he produced Head Bush under his production house. He had also penned songs in films like Orchestra and Badava Rascal. He also used to write columns on topics such as social issues and human values in Kannada newspapers.
Dhananjaya landed into controversy after giving a befitting reply to the tweet of the author Chakravarthy Sulibele. The popular figure Chakravarthy Sulibele posted on Instagram about the worst situation in Italy due to the covid-19 pandemic. He wrote ‘Jesus loves all’ in his tweet possibly taking a dig at Christianity. Twitter was quick to recognize the sarcasm in his tweet and slammed Sulibele. Soon, Daali Dhananjaya replied to his tweet by quoting the popular poet Siddayya Puranik, ‘Before becoming anything, embrace humanity first.’ By his tweet, Dhananjaya won the hearts of many people, but naturally, there were people, who opposed him and asked him to ‘just act’ and mocked his morality by comparing his real-life persona to his on-screen characters. Later, Dhananjaya released a video and said,
There is the need to highlight the importance of fighting the novel coronavirus together and any kind of sarcasm being made upon the deaths of people should be condemned.”
- 3rd SIIMA Award for Best Debutant Male for the film Director’s Special.
- 65th Filmfare Awards South for Best Actor (Critics) for the film Allama.
- Basavaratna Best Actor Award for the film Allama.
- Zee Kannada Hemmeya Kannadiga Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film Tagaru.
- 65th Filmfare Awards South for Best Supporting Actor for the film Tagaru.
- 8th SIIMA Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role for the film Tagaru.
- 10th SIIMA Award for Best Actor for the film Popcorn Monkey Tiger.
He owns a Range Rover car.
- Dhananjay was a brilliant student throughout. He was a topper in the SSLC Board Examination with 95.32% marks.
- In the rapid-fire round of the show, No. 1 Yaari, when Dhananjay was asked which actress he would like to have a lip-lock scene, within no time he replied Deepika Padukone.
- He did very hard training to had a fit body for his film Boxer.
- For the film Allam Prabhu, he underwent harsh training to learn Mridanaga and classical dance for the role.
- Dhananjaya said in an interview that he likes multitasking. He can not stick to only one thing. He added,
In Mysuru, after my day at the SJCE, I would head to Rangayana (theatre institute) to act. As general secretary of the Student Council, I was actively involved in college politics. If I could be satisfied doing just one thing, I would have remained an engineer.”
- He had played different characters across 4 languages. He shared in an interview that he wants to represent all the sections of the society and said,
Star status makes you extra conscious of everything. I want to be a performer who represents all sections of society. I would be a fool to miss out on interesting characters by thinking of stardom.”
- His first role as an antagonist was ‘Daali’ in Tagaru which earned him a lot of appreciation from the audience. When asked by an interviewer how he bagged the role, he said,
It all took off-note of a lighter note while I first met Suri sir at the gym. Since he was impressed with my works in the past, we started talking about films. All of it happened on the treadmill while we were sweating it out. He was curious to know what kind of role I was looking at, and my response was anything that made sense. Within minutes, he said I will be doing a role in his upcoming film. When I learnt that I will be playing a villain, I was surprised but I had confidence in him that it will be a challenging one.”
- After acting in the film Tagaru, there was an exponential growth in his number of fans, especially, female fans. One of his female fans tattooed his character name, Daali, on her collarbone. Overwhelmed by this gesture of his fan, Dhananjaya said in an interview,
I come across so many lovely fans and among them, a girl has got the name of my character ‘Daali’ tattooed on her collarbone. It is a painful thing to get it done. I shared it on my social platform. The other best thing is when I see my photos on the back of an auto-rickshaw, and on bikes of fans. It is these gestures that make it all worth at the end of the day.”
- His negative roles have earned him several names like Daali, Nataraakshasa, and Natabhayanakara. He once shared in an interview that he will not stick to negative roles only and said,
I am trying not to repeat my characters. From my next release ‘Salaga’, you will see me in characters with unique value.”
- He likes to be called ‘Daali’ by his fans. He shared in an interview that he takes it as a compliment and said,
I feel honoured that people loved me as the don Daali. At the same time, I want to be known as an actor who can do any kind of a role and not be limited to one style. That is why I make it a point to choose films where I get to explore kinds of roles.”
- Dhananjaya loved playing the role of a common man in his movie Rathnan Prapancha. In an interview, he shared some insights that how he bagged the role in the film Rathnan Prapancha and said,
The director came to me at a time, when I had indulged myself in playing mass characters, and I could easily connect to the role of the middle-class Insurance agent. It’s always a pleasure to play a common man’s role, and it is something legendary actors like Dr Rajkumar and Dr Vishnuvardhan have often entertained us with. A hero is not meant to just fight against villains. Even a teacher, a postman, or an insurance agent can take the lead. I was very emotional when Rohit narrated the story.”
- Dhananjaya’s director, Padaki, from the film Rathnan Prapancha, shared in an interview that working with Dhananjaya was a great experience for him and said ,
He is a very natural and genuine actor. You don’t feel like you working with an ‘actor’ who has any baggage. He works on his character before he comes for the shot. He knows his characters and he knows how to deliver them.”
- He also wrote the story of his short film Jayanagar 4th Block. He considered this short film to be an eye-opener in his career and said in an interview,
I was distressed and lost when I wrote it. I realised, both in this film and in ‘Director’s Special’, that people appreciated my performances even if my screen time was limited. People expected something different from me. Till then, I was just going with the flow. I decided to do what I completely believed in.”
- Dhanajaya’s character ‘Jolly Reddy’ in the film ‘Pushpa’ became very popular among the audience. After getting so much appreciation as Jolly Reddy, he said in an interview,
My character’s name is Jolly Reddy. It’s definitely a good and colourful role. People will enjoy it the most. In Karnataka I am Daali, I might be now called Jolly in Telugu (audience).”
- Dhananjaya worked non-stop in the year 2021, braving the pandemic. He believes that sitting idle is not his cup of tea. He said in an interview,
“When good subjects come your way, I can’t sit idle and I feel lucky to have bagged a handful of good work, especially in these times. I made sure I grabbed them all with open arms.”
- For the year 2022, he had several films lined up. He is considered one of the busiest actors as he had been shooting for multiple films which include Monsoon Raaga, Once Upon A Time In Jamaaligudda, Head Bush and Bairagee.