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Happy Birthday Suriya: A snapshot of his two decade cinematic journey

Saravanan Sivakumar, popularly known as Suriya turns 43 today. The actor, who has won accolades for his work over the years, had a not so easy start. Today Suriya is appreciated for his acting chops, but there was a time when there were comments that may be, he should reconsider his decision to take up acting.

Being the son of an immensely talented and respected actor like Sivakumar is definitely not an easy legacy to carry on one’s shoulders. But through his sheer hard work and persistence, Suriya is what he today. It has been a difficult yet impressive two decade journey, but today Suriya is one of the top actors in Kollywood.

Suriya with his father Sivakumar and brother Karthi

His cinematic journey started in 1997 with the film Nerukku Ner directed by Vasanth. This was two-hero film starring Vijay, who was an established actor at the time. Though the film did fairly well and got Suriya a couple of more acting opportunities, it did not make him an overnight star. In 1999 Vasanth once again directed Suriya in the film Poovellam Kettuppar. This was also the first time he paired with Jyotika. The film received positive reviews, but it was not the hit that would define an actor’s career. In 2001 Suriya appeared with Vijay again in the Siddique directed Friends. The film was a commercial success, but once again Suriya’s acting was not talked about much. Then the film Nandha, directed by Bala, happened. The film which was about a young man trying to fit into society after a stint in juvenile prison, made not just the critics but also the audience sit up take notice of Suriya, the actor.

A still from Nandha

But the real defining moment for Suriya was when he teamed up with Gautham Menon for the action thriller Kaakha Kaakha. The chemistry between Suriya and Jyotika, his performance as a cop and some amazing music by Harris Jayaraj, coupled with Menon’s distinct story-telling style made the film the first blockbuster in Suriya’s career.  

Suriya and Jyotika in Kaakha Kaakha

What makes Suriya’s films stand out is the ease with which he moves from one genre to another. Within three months of Kaakha Kaakha, he appeared in Pithamagan. Directed by Bala, Suriya played a conman in the film. The film starred Vikram in the lead role and also won the actor the National Award, but it was Suriya’s portrayal of Shakthi that made up some of the most memorable moments in the film. Suriya continued to experiment with his movies and looks. He played a hunchback in Perazhagan, a student leader in Aaytha Ezhuthu and a thief in Maayavi.

But his biggest transformation in terms of looks and character came with the AR Murugadoss directed Ghajini, in which he played a suave businessman who becomes a patient of anterograde amnesia. This movie became not only a huge hit amongst Tamil audiences, its Telugu dubbed version made Suriya a popular name with Telugu film lovers as well.

In 2005 Suriya teamed up with Hari for Aaru. What followed was a long and successful association of four more films, Vel and the Singam series; each establishing Suriya as a hero of the masses. His distinct look in Singam, especially his moustache was one his most popular looks. His punch dialogues and unbelievable action sequences made his character of Duraisingam, roaring success among the audiences. Suriya and Hari will be coming together once again for the actor’s 39th film.

Singam

Suriya continued experimenting with his roles and films. In Gautham Menon’s Vaaranam Aayriam  he played father and son. He had different looks in the film; a teenager, a drug addict, a retro look, an army officer, an aged father... he nailed every look with not just make up but actually physically transfroming himself to suit the age and emotion of the character.

Suriya's different looks in Vaaranam Aayiram

In KV Anand’s Maattrraan he played conjoint twins. In Muragadoss's 7aam Arivu he appeared as Bodhidharma and a circus trapeeze artist. In Vikram Kumar’s 24 a sci-fi thriller he played a triple role including the antagonist. Be it the ghost seeing psychic and a ghost in Massu Engira Masilamani or the fake CBI officer in Thaanaa Serndha Koottam, the actor always came on top. In each of his films he sported different looks and whether the films got critical acclaim or not and the audiences loved or hated the film, Suriya never disappointed.

Suriya is joining hands with KV Anand for an action thriller. The film also stars Mohanlal and Arya in important roles. This will be Anand and Suriya’s third collaboration after Ayan and Maattrraan.Later this year he will be seen in the Selvaraghavan directorial NGK. Touted to be a political drama, a genre which is a first for the actor, this is also the first time that the he is working with Selvaraghavan. The second look poster of the film was released today. Check it out below:

NGK Second Look

His personal life has been just as eventful and wonderful as his career. His on screen romance with Jyotika translated into a long and successful marriage in real life. They are one of the most loved couples in Kollywood. When Jyotika decided to make a comeback to films in 2015, Suriya launched his production house 2D Entertainment and made 36 Vayadhinile. His latest release as producer Kadaikutty Singam starring younger brother Karthi is a box office success.

Jyotika and Suriya at 36 Vayadhinile music launch

We at Box Office India wish Suriya a wonderful birthday and success for all his future endeavours.

Share with us your favourite Suriya movies in the comments section below. For the latest news on Kollywood keep visiting this space.

-Padma Iyer

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