Saravanan Sivakumar, known by his stage name Suriya, is an Indian film actor, producer and television presenter, best known for his work in Tamil cinema. After making his debut in Nerukku Ner (1997), Suriya landed his breakthrough role in Nandha (2001) and then had his first commercial success with the thriller Kaakha Kaakha (2003). Following award-winning performances of a conman in Pithamagan (2003) and a hunchback in Perazhagan (2004), Suriya played a patient suffering from anterograde amnesia in the 2005 blockbuster Ghajini, dual roles of a father and son in Gautham Menon's semi-autobiographical Vaaranam Aayiram (2008), a smuggler in Ayan (2009) and an aggressive cop in the Singam trilogy (Singam, Singam II and S3). Suriya has additionally found success with science fiction films like 7aum Arivu (2011) and 24 (2016). As of 2010, he has won three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and three Filmfare Awards South. In 2013, Suriya founded the production house 2D Entertainment.

Suriya is the eldest son of Tamil film actor Sivakumar and his younger brother Karthi is additionally an actor. Suriya married co-star Jyothika in 2006, after being engaged for several years. In 2008, he began Agaram Foundation, which funds for various philanthropic activities. The year 2012 marked his debut as a television presenter with the Star Vijay game show Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi, the Tamil version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

Early life and family

Suriya was born to Tamil film actor Sivakumar and his wife Lakshmi as Saravanan. 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. Suriya has two younger siblings, brother Karthi and sister Brindha.

Suriya is married to Jyothika, with whom he worked in as a large number of as seven films. The couple, after being together for several years, got married on 11 September 2006. They have two children, a daughter named Diya (born 10 August 2007) and a son named Dev (born 7 June 2010).

Career

1997–2002: Early career

Before his career in films, Suriya worked at a garment exports factory for eight months. To avoid nepotism, he didn't reveal himself to his boss as Sivakumar's son, but his boss ultimately learnt the truth himself. He was initially offered the lead role by Vasanth in his film Aasai (1995), but he rejected the offer citing a lack of interest in an acting career. He later debuted in Vasanth's own 1997 film Nerrukku Ner, produced by Mani Ratnam when he was 22 years of age. The stage name Suriya was bestowed to him by Ratnam to avoid a clash of names with established actor Saravanan. The name Suriya was frequently used for characters in Ratnam's films. Vijay, who would additionally go on to become a leading contemporary actor in Kollywood, co-starred with him in the film. This was followed by a series of roles in commercially unsuccessful films in the late 1990s. In 2001, he starred in Siddique's comedy film Friends, additionally co-starring Vijay.

Suriya confessed that he struggled due to lack of confidence, memory power, fighting or dancing skills in his early career, but it was actor Raghuvaran, one of his mentors, who advised him to create his own identity, rather than stay under his father's shadow.

His major break in acting came in the form of Nandha, which was directed by Bala. Playing the role of an ex-convict who's quite attached to his mother, he received a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor. His next venture was Vikraman's Unnai Ninaithu followed by Mounam Pesiyadhe directed by Ameer Sultan.

2003–07

In 2003, he starred in 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". The film became a Blockbuster at the box office. His portrayal of a happy-go-lucky village criminal 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 2004, he played dual roles in Perazhagan, as an aggressive boxer and a handicapped phone booth keeper. Suriya'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 humour or action. The actor has scored a hat trick". The film became a successful venture at the box office and Suriya won his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil. The same year, he portrayed the role of a student leader in Mani Ratnam's political drama Aaytha Ezhuthu along with Madhavan and Siddarth which received highly critical acclaim and became a commercial success.

Suriya 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 released in late 2005 and became a Blockbuster and was the third highest-grossing film of that year in Tamil. Suriya's role was unanimously praised, with a reviewer from Sify citing that "the film is driven by Suriya's riveting performance". Later he worked in Hari's action film Aaru and the film received a moderate response at the box office. His performance fetched positive reviews with a reviewer citing that "Surya keeps you riveted to the seats with another wholesome effort".

In 2006, he starred with Jyothika and Bhumika Chawla in N. Krishna's film Sillunu Oru Kaadhal. The film took a strong opening, average reception 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 director Hari's Vel, where he was paired with Asin for the second time after Ghajini. The film, which featured him in dual roles, was commercially successful.

2008–2010

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 additionally 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 throughout the making. He lost weight and prepared a six pack for the film through an eight-month fitness regime without steroids, with the movie being a trend-setter for additional leading actors from South India. The film, which additionally 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's "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 additional reviewers claimed the film was an "out and out Suriya show". His portrayals additionally 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 additionally the Vijay Award for Best Actor for 2008. The film additionally 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 additionally 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 acrobatic 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 additionally 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 received 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 additional 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 which was released to highly critical acclaim and became a commercial success. Rakta Charitra is additionally considered as the Most Violent Film in Indian Film industry. Suriya subsequently went on to seem as himself in three consecutive guest appearances, appearing alongside Trisha and Madhavan in a song in Manmadhan Ambu (2010), before additionally starring in K. V. Anand's Ko and Bala's Avan Ivan (2011).

2011–present

His only release in 2011 that featured him in a starring role was A. R. Murugadoss's science fiction thriller 7aum Arivu. Suriya played dual roles with Shruti Haasan in the film, as a circus artist and as the Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma, who lived in the sixth century. The film met with mixed reception, but was a commercial success. His 2012 release was the K. V. Anand directed Maattrraan in which he played the role of conjoined twins, Vimalan and Akhilan. The film received mixed reviews and the film ended up being an average grosser while Suriya's performance is praised along with technical aspects and VFX.

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 and ended on 12 July. His next film was Singam II, a sequel to his 2010 film Singam, that released on 5 July 2013 to mixed responses from critics. Notwithstanding the film received a huge opening and emerged one of the highest grossing Tamil films of all time. Suriya was once again acclaimed for his portrayal of Durai Singam and his performance was hailed as "the film's backbone". He had signed on to feature in Gautham Menon's film Dhruva Natchathiram and reportedly waited for six months to start filming. Notwithstanding in October 2013, he backed out due to lagging of the project and differences with the director. His next film Anjaan directed by N. Lingusamy was released on 15 August 2014 to mixed reviews. His next release was Venkat Prabhu's film Masss which released to mixed reviews but critics were all in praise for Suriya's performance.

His most recent release was 24 directed by Vikram Kumar which hit the screens on 6 May 2016. The Film is based on the concept of time-travel, the film stars actor Suriya in triple roles, with actresses Samantha and Nithya Menen in lead roles.The film met with mixed reception, but was a commercial success and suriya's 'Athreya' role was praised.

In his review for The Hindu, critic Baradwaj Rangan called 24 an "intelligent, joyous mix of sci-fi and masala-myth." Sreedhar Pillai in his review for Firstpost mentioned, "24 is a classy commercial entertainer, which has its moments. Malini Mannath of The New Indian Express wrote, "Attractively packaged, 24 is refreshing, novel and worth a watch. M. Suganth of The Times of India, assigned 4 out of 5 stars, stating: "It isn't often that we see a big star choosing to take a risk with a script that isn't simplistic or formulaic, especially when his last few films have underperformed at the box office, but here Suriya pulls it off admirably. IndiaGlitz.com rated the film 3.3 out of 5 and called it as "A beautiful and brilliant show of Time".

Also, the movie collected est.100 crore (US$15 million) in 18 days. And the director of the movie has confirmed that there will be a Sequel, planned as 24 Decoded.

Other work

In 2004, Suriya along with R. Madhavan was Pepsi's brand ambassador in Tamil Nadu. He was chosen to represent TVS Motors, Sunfeast Biscuits and Aircel in 2006, the latter which he endorses to this date. He has endorsed Saravana Stores, Bharathi Cements and Emami Navaratna products after 2010. In 2011, he had signed a new deal with Nescafe, Close-Up and with Zandu Balm brand as of May 2011, for which he appeared with actress Malaika Arora. In 2012, Suriya was drafted in by Malabar Gold, a leading jewellery group. The commercials for Aircel and Nescafe featured Suriya and his wife Jyothika together. In 2013, he was honoured at the Edison Awards as the Best Male Endorser in South India. In 2014, he had one major contract with Complan energy drinks. In 2015, Suriya was named as the brand ambassador for Quikr and Intex Moblies. He was listed #33 in Forbes India's "Celebrity 100 List" for the year 2013.

In 2007, Suriya was the brand ambassador of Tanker Foundation and acted in a short film on AIDS awareness. In 2008, Suriya began the Agaram Foundation, working to help children who drop out of school early in Tamil Nadu. Suriya revealed that he was inspired to start the movement as a result of his father's own organisation, Sivakumar Educational Trust, which had been operating similar benefits on a smaller scale after the 1980s. With the Ministry of Education in Tamil Nadu, he created a short commercial video outlining child poverty, labour and lack of education, titled Herova? Zerova?. The film was written and produced by Sivakumar and additionally starred Vijay, Madhavan and Jyothika. Agaram sponsored 159 underprevileged students in 2010 for their higher education in various disciplines, and has continued to provide free seats and accommodation for pupils. With the firm belief that the educated mind can not only eliminate social evils but additionally aid in the socio-economic upbringing of society, Agaram Foundation works towards providing appropriate learning opportunities to the rural populace who don't otherwise have access to quality education. Through the foundation, he has additionally set up a platform for students to participate in workshops and improve communication skills, teamwork, goal setting and leadership.

Suriya and his family has additionally extended help towards the education of Sri Lankan Tamil children on behalf of the Sivakumar Charitable Trust. He is additionally an active participant in additional humanitarian works such as "Save The Tigers" campaign, which aids in the protection and preservation of Tigers in India, and "REACH", a non-profit that cures TB patients for free using supervised medication programs. The actor celebrates every birthday by doing charity work across Tamil Nadu.

In an interview with the Bangalore Mirror, Disney UTV's head of business in South India, G. Dhananjayan credited Suriya as the "biggest star" in contemporary Tamil film and claimed it was mainly because of his popularity among Telugu and Malayalam speaking audience.

Filmography

Key
Films that haven't yet been releasedDenotes films that haven't yet been released
YearFilmRoleLanguageNotes
1997Nerrukku NerSuryaTamil
1998Kaadhale NimmadhiChandruTamil
SandhippomaVishwaTamil
1999PeriyannaSuryaTamil
Poovellam KettupparKrishnaTamil
2000Uyirile KalanthathuSuriyaTamil
2001FriendsChandruTamil
NandhaNandhaTamil
2002Unnai NinaithuSuryaTamil
ShreeShreeTamil
Mounam PesiyadheGouthamTamil
2003Kaakha KaakhaAnbuselvanTamil
PithamaganSakthiTamil
2004PerazhaganKarthik,
Chinna
Tamil
Aayutha EzhuthuMichael VasanthTamil
2005MaayaviBalayyaTamil
GhajiniSanjay Ramasamy (Manohar)Tamil
AaruAarumugam (Aaru)Tamil
2006June RRajaTamilSpecial appearance
Sillunu Oru KaadhalGauthamTamil
2007VelVetrivel,
Vasudevan
Tamil
2008Vaaranam AayiramKrishnan,
Suriya Krishnan
Tamil
2009AyanDevaraj VelusamyTamil
AadhavanMadhavan Subramaniyam
(Aadhavan/Murugan)
Tamil
2010SingamDuraisingamTamil25th film
Rakta CharitraSuriyanarayana ReddyTelugu/Hindi
2011KoHimselfTamilSpecial appearance
7aum ArivuBodhidharma,
Aravind
Tamil
2012MaattrraanAkhilan,
Vimalan
Tamil
2013Chennaiyil Oru NaalHimselfTamilSpecial appearance
Singam IIDuraisingamTamil
2014Ninaithathu YaaroHimselfTamilSpecial appearance
AnjaanRaju Bhai (Krishna)Tamil
2015Massu Engira MasilamaniMasilamani,
Sakthi
Tamil
Pasanga 2Dr. Tamil NadanTamil
201624Athreya,
Sethu Raman,
Mani/Manikandan
Tamil
S3Films that haven't yet been releasedDuraisingamTamilReleasing on December 16th
2017Thaana Serndha KootamFilms that haven't yet been releasedTamilPre-production

As a producer

Suriya ventured into production and distribution of films with his studio 2D Entertainment.

YearFilmDirectorCastNotes
201536 VayadhinileRosshan AndrrewsJyothika, Rahman, Abhirami
2015Pasanga 2PandirajRamdoss, Karthik Kumar, Vidya Pradeep, Bindu Madhavi, Suriya, Amala Paul
201624Vikram KumarSuriya Sivakumar, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Nithya Menen, Saranya Ponvannan
2017Magalir MattumBrammaJyothika, Bhanupriya, SaranyaFilming

As a distributor

YearFilmDirectorCastNotes
2013Singam IIHariSuriya, Anushka Shetty, Hansika Motwani

As a playback singer

YearSong(s)FilmWith singerComposerNotes
2004"Oru Azhagana"PerazhaganSavitha Reddy, Mathangi Jagdish, GangaYuvan Shankar RajaDialogue in song; didn't sing
2008"Mundhinam Parthene"Vaaranam AayiramNaresh Iyer, PrashanthiniHarris JayarajDialogue in song; didn't sing
2014"Ek Do Teen chaar"AnjaanAndrea JeremiahYuvan Shankar Raja

As a dubbing artist

YearFilmVoiced forNotes
2007GuruAbhishek BachchanTamil dubbing