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You don’t have to be big and muscular or towering to play an intimidating villain in cinema — the power lies in a good performance. Newcomer Arjun Das proves that with ‘Kaithi’, his Tamil cinema debut. Social media is abuzz with posts appreciating his work as Anbu, the villain with menacing looks.

A few days ago at a press event when Das was introduced on stage as the villain of ‘Kaithi’, I questioned it. The saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ was clear the minute Das spoke. His baritone voice belied his lean built.

Now Das’s labour for five years is yielding fruit. The former UAE resident quit a banking career in Dubai to pursue acting.

Chasing his dreams, he arrived in Chennai. After an acting course at ‘Koothu-pattarai’ (Tamil theatre group), he worked for a radio channel as a presenter. It paved the way for his entry into cinema. Following an audition, Das was on board for ‘Kaithi.’

“I was not convinced that I could play Anbu, the leader of a gang,” said Das. “In fact I wanted some time to think about it.

“But over a cup of coffee, [director] Lokesh [Kanagaraj] asked me, ‘You are doing the role right?’ I nodded yes.’”

He credits all compliments coming his way to his director, producer Prabhu and co-star Karthi.

“They believed in me. Lokesh was clear about everything from day one. He guided me during dubbing. The energy on the set was phenomenal and you want to give in your best. I enjoyed working with a talented cast, despite the odd hours of shooting,” he said.

Das watched the first day’s first show of ‘Kaithi’ in the cinema.

“Until the interval no one in the audience realised that I was in their midst. They were happy to see Anbu killed in the story. Once they recognised me, there were screams of ‘Anbu’ everywhere. It was an unbelievable experience.”

Das has two films waiting for release — ‘Kumki 2’ and ‘Andhagaaram.’ In the former he plays a forest ranger with shades of grey and in the latter — a supernatural thriller — he plays the lead.

Das is keen on making the right choice and being part of good films.

‘Kaithi’ is currently showing across the UAE.