Profile: Suriya (born 23 July 1975 as Saravanan Sivakumar) is an Indian film actor, producer, philanthropist and television presenter. He has acted in several Tamil films, including the commercially successful films Nandha (2001), Kaakha Kaakha (2003), Pithamagan (2003), Perazhagan (2004), Ghajini (2005), Vel (2007), Vaaranam Aayiram (2008), Ayan (2009), Singam (2010) and 7aam Arivu (2011). As of 2010, he has won three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and three Filmfare Awards South, establishing himself as one of the leading contemporary actors in the Tamil film industry.
He became a film distributor after opening Studio Green, which was responsible for producing and distributed a few of his own and his brother Karthi`s films. He is the eldest son of actor Sivakumar and married actress Jyothika in 2006, after being engaged for several years. In 2008, he began Agaram Foundation, which funds programmes for preventing early childhood drop-outs. As of 2012, Suriya is the host of the STAR Vijay game show Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi.
Suriya was born to actor Sivakumar and Lakshmi in Chennai. He is the eldest of three children. His younger brother is actor Karthi and he has a younger sister named Brindha Sivakumar. He attended Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan School and St. Bede`s Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School in Chennai and obtained his under graduate degree B.Com from Loyola College, Chennai.
Early career: 1996–2002
Suriya debuted in the 1997 film Nerrukku Ner directed by Vasanth and produced by Mani Ratnam. Actor Vijay co-starred with him in this film.In 2001, he starred in Siddique`s comedy film Friends, also co-starring Vijay.
His major break came in the form of Nandha, which was directed by Bala. Playing the role of an ex-convict who is very attached to his mother, he received a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor. His next venture was Vikraman`s Unnai Ninaithu, which was followed by Mounam Pesiyadhe directed by Ameer Sultan.
In 2003, he starred in the Gautham Menon`s Kaakha Kaakha, a film about the life of a police officer. The film opened to positive reviews with a critic from Rediff.com claiming that "Surya as Anbu Selvan fits the role and this film is certainly a career high for him". Surya`s portrayal of a happy-go-lucky village crook with a comic touch in Bala`s Pithamagan, along with Vikram, won him Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor – Tamil and the film did well commercially. In 2005 he played dual role in Perazhagan, as an aggressive boxer and a handicapped phone booth keeper. Again, Surya`s performance won positive reviews from critics with a reviewer describing it as "Surya deserves appreciation for his astounding performance. He is at his best be it humor or action. The actor has scored a hat trick". The film became successful venture in box-office and Surya won his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil. That same year, he portrayed the role of a student leader in Mani Ratnam`s political drama Aaytha Ezhuthu along with Madhavan and Siddarth. In regard to his performance, the Rediff.com review praised his enactment citing that "Surya has given a finely calibrated performance and is smashing".
Surya signed on to feature in the psychological thriller, Ghajini directed by A. R. Murugadoss in November 2004. He played the role of a patient suffering from short-term memory loss. Ghajini became the third highest grossing film of that year in Tamil. Surya`s performance was unanimously praised, with a reviewer from Sify citing that "the film is driven by Surya’s riveting performance". Later he acted in Hari`s action film Aaru and the film faced a good response at the box office. Surya`s performance fetched positive reviews with a reviewer citing that "Surya keeps you riveted to the seats with another wholesome effort".
In 2006, he acted with Jyothika and Bhumika Chawla in N. Krishna`s film Sillunu Oru Kaadhal. The film took a strong opening, but soon faded out and became a moderate success. But his performance was praised, with a reviewer from Sify citing that "Surya pitches in with yet another fantastic performance, be it the responsible husband and father, or the cool dude at college".
In 2007, his only release was Vel, which was a commercial hit.
Rise to prominence: 2008–2011
His next release was a collaboration with Gautham Menon, after the success of Kaakha Kaakha, Suriya began work on Menon`s biopic Vaaranam Aayiram in November 2008. Playing dual roles for the third time in his career, Suriya appeared as father and son, with both characters also demanding scenes shot throughout their lives ranging from scenes as a 16-year-old to scenes as a 65-year-old. During the production of the film, Suriya described the project as "unique" and "straight from the heart", describing the physical hardships he endured during the making.He lost weight and prepared a six pack for the film through an eight-month fitness regime without steroids, with the move being a trend-setter for other leading actors from South India. The film, which also featured Simran, Sameera Reddy and Divya Spandana in prominent roles, became commercially successful at the box office upon release as well as receiving positive reviews from film critics, with Suriya`s performance being lauded. A critic from Rediff labelled the film as his "magnum opus", citing that he is "perfect" and that the film for him is a "justified triumph".Similarly, critics cited Suriya`s performance as "outstanding" and claimed that the film "works because of his performance", whilst other reviewers claimed the film was an "out and out Suriya show".His portrayals also fetched him several notable awards, including the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil, a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor by the jury and also the Vijay Award for Best Actor for 2008. The film also went on to receive a National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil for 2008.
In 2009, Suriya`s first release was K. V. Anand`s action-thriller Ayan, which went on to become the highest grossing Tamil film of the year. With Suriya portraying the role of a smuggler, the film also featured Prabhu as his guardian and Tamannaah Bhatia as the lead actress. The film was shot extensively across Tanzania, Namibia, Malaysia and India and featured parkour stunts by Suriya, without the use of a stunt double. Upon release, the film won positive reviews citing that the film was a "must watch" and Suriya`s performance was yet again acclaimed and he found himself nominated for leading awards and won the Vijay Award for Entertainer of the Year. The film`s success saw Suriya emerge as the most profitable leading actor in Tamil films, following a hat trick of large commercial hits, with film journals suggesting that his success was due to "experiments within the commercial format" and he was successful in "avoiding being typecast".His next film, K. S. Ravikumar`s action entertainer Aadhavan also achieved commercial success, while Suriya`s depiction of a hitman was praised. A critic from Sify.com labelled it as an "out and out Suriya show", stating that "the film rides on the magic of the actor, and his zany shenanigans alone makes it worth a watch" and Rediff.com cited that "he sings, dances, and fights with absolute sincerity, but when he looks at you with tears in his eyes in an emotional scene tailor-made for him, the applause hits the roof", concluding that it is "completely his film".
In 2010, he had his 25th release with Singam directed by Hari, in which he played the role of a police officer from a small village going to work in the city. The film opened to positive reviews with The Hindu noting that "Suriya shows that be it a performance-oriented role or a formulaic concoction he can deliver", while Sify.com stated "Ultimately it is Suriya who carries the film to the winning post. His passion and the way he brings an ordinary regular larger-than-life hero character alive on screen is lesson for other commercial heroes." The film won Suriya the Vijay Award for Best Entertainer again and saw him nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil again, and subsequently went on to become the second highest grossing film of the year. He made his Bollywood debut in Ram Gopal Varma`s two-part political drama Rakta Charitra in 2010. Suriya subsequently went on to appear as himself in three consecutive guest appearances, appearing alongside Trisha and Madhavan in a song in Manmadhan Ambu (2010), before also starring in K. V. Anand`s Ko and Bala`s Avan Ivan (2011).
His only release in 2011 that featured him in a starring role was A. R. Murugadoss`s science fiction thriller 7aum Arivu. Suriya essayed dual roles in the film, as a circus artist and as the Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma, who lived in the 5th century. The film met with mixed reception, but Suriya`s performance was praised. 7aum Arivu became the actor`s highest grosser, and subsequently among the top grossing films of the year.
Entry in television: 2012–present
In January 2012, Suriya was named as the official host of the new game show to be presented on STAR Vijay, Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi, the Tamil version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, which began airing on 27 February 2012.
His next project is Maattrraan, which sees him collaborate with K. V. Anand again, after Ayan.He is also doing Singam 2,a sequel to his 2010 blockbuster Singam.