Suriya in 2010
23 July 1975 
Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
|Residence||Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India|
|Occupation||Film actor, producer, television presenter|
|Years active||1997 – present|
|Spouse(s)||Jyothika Sadanah (m. 2006)|
Saravanan Sivakumar (born 23 July 1975), better known by his stage name Suriya is a Tamil film actor, film producer and television presenter, who is currently working in the Tamil film industry. He has acted in 29 films in various genres as a lead actor till date. After making his debut in the acclaimed production Nerukku Ner (1997), he went on to feature in many successful films, which include Nandha (2001), Kaakha Kaakha (2003), Pithamagan (2003), Perazhagan (2004), Ghajini (2005), Vel (2007), Vaaranam Aayiram (2008), Ayan (2009), Singam (2010), 7aum Arivu (2011) and Singam II (2013). 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 Tamil cinema. He was listed #33 in Forbes India's "Celebrity 100 List" for the year 2013.
He is the eldest son of Tamil film actor Sivakumar, and married actress 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 popular STAR Vijay gaming show Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi, Tamil version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
Early life and family
Suriya 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 a younger brother, Karthi, who is also a Tamil film actor, and a younger sister named Brindha Sivakumar.
Suriya is married to Jyothika, who was also a film actress, with whom he was paired in films such as Kaakha Kaakha, Perazhagan and Sillunu Oru Kaadhal. The couple, after being in a friendly relationship for several years, tied the knot on 11 September 2006. They have two children, daughter Diya born on 10 August 2007 and son Dev on 7 June 2010. Jyothika has quit acting since their marriage and became a full-time housewife.
1997–2002: Early career
Suriya was earlier interested in the garment manufacturing industry, where he worked at a factory for 6 months without revealing his identity as the son of a well-known actor. 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 the 1997 film Nerrukku Ner directed by Vasanth and produced by Mani Ratnam when he was 22. Actor Joseph Vijay, who would also go on to become a leading contemporary actor in Kollywood, co-starred with him in this 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, also co-starring Vijay. But Suriya was often criticised due to lack of confidence, memory power, fighting or dancing skills in his earlier career, but it was actor Raghuvaran who adviced him to create his own identity, rather than staying under his father Sivakumar' s shadow, said Suriya to a web portal.
His major break in acting 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 a moderate success, which was also followed by the successful 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 which was largely applauded by critics.
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. Suriya's role 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 an average grosser. 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, for which he was paired again with Asin after Ghajini. The film, which featured him in dual roles, was a commercial hit.
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 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 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 6th century. The film met with mixed reception, but Suriya's performance was praised. 7aum Arivu became the actor's highest grosser, because of the huge opening, and subsequently among the top grossing films of the year. 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 to positive reviews whilst Suriya's effort drew much appreciation. However, the film ended up being an Above average.
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 got released on 5 July 2013. The film opened to mixed responses from critics, however, it received a huge opening and emerged a high financial success. 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. However, in October 2013, he backed out due to lagging of the project and differences with the director. He is currently working on N. Lingusamy's Anjaan from November 2013. The film has actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu cast opposite him.
Suriya has been the ambassador for TVS Motors, Aircel and Sunfeast since 2006. He has endorsed Saravana Stores, Bharathi Cements and Emami Navaratna products since 2010. In 2011, he had signed a new deal with Nescafe, Close-Up (toothpaste) and more recently with Zandu Balm brand as of May 2011, for which he appeared with actress Malaika Arora. As of 2012, Suriya had endorsed the leading jewellery group, Malabar Gold. His wife Jyothika made a comeback through few among these commercials she did with him. In 2013, he was awarded at the Edison Awards as the Best Male Ambassador in South India.
In 2008, Suriya began the Agaram Foundation, working to help children who drop out of school early in Tamil Nadu. 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 also starred Joseph Vijay, R. Madhavan and Jyothika. Agaram has sponsored 159 underprevileged students in 2010 for their higher education in various disciplines. With the firm belief that the educated mind can not only eliminate social evils but also aid in the socio-economic upbringing of society, Agaram Foundation works towards providing appropriate learning opportunities to the rural populace who do not otherwise have access to quality education. Suriya, along with his father and brother, has also extended help towards the education of Sri Lankan Tamil children on behalf of the Sivakumar Charitable Trust. He is also an active participant in other philanthropic 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 2013, during his 38th birthday celebration some of his fans requested Suriya to enter politics on interaction. He apparently discussed the same with his father Sivakumar who stated that except the late matinee idol MGR, nobody can shine in politics and advised him to stay focused on acting and excel in it. The actor has decided he would continue working in cinema alone. 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 audience.
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