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Saravanan Sivakumar, known by his stage name Suriya, can be rightly considered as the “biggest star” in contemporary Tollywood industry with almost 2.3 Million followers on Twitter. The man who has seen his shares of ups and downs but has emerged as a winner always. Saravanan Sivakumar was born to actor Sivakumar and his wife Lakshmi in Chennai but brought up in Coimbatore. He was given the name Suriya by director Mani Ratnam so that his name would not clash with the actor Saravanan. A film actor, producer, philanthropist and television presenter, Suriya can juxtapose all of them in the blink of an eye.
Although his father was an actor, Suriya was never exposed to the film industry. He never visited a set or went for a shoot. After completing his tenth grade, Suriya declined an offer from a director to act. He proceeded to complete his graduation in Commerce from Loyola College. Since he had a lack of interest in opting acting as a career, he continued to work in a garments factory for six months without revealing his identity as the son of a well-known actor. He rejected the lead role offered by Vasanth in his movie, ‘Aasai'(1995).
Suriya made a debut in the 1997 film ‘Nerukku Ner‘ directed by Vasanth and produced by Mani Ratnam. Later he starred in 2001 remake ‘Friends’ directed by Siddique and ‘Nandha’ by Bala for which he received a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor. He went on to do blockbuster hits like ‘Kaaka Kaaka,’ a movie about the life of a cop that grossed almost Rs.150 million at the box office. In 2005, he appeared in ‘Ghajini‘ where he played a patient suffering from short term memory loss. A remake of it was made in Bollywood with Aamir Khan playing the lead role.
In 2008, he appeared in ‘Vaaranam Aayiram,’ for which he won a Filmfare Award for Best Actor. He won a Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor. Vijay Award for Best Actor which was presented to him by Kamal Hassan who acknowledged Surya’s versatility as an artist. He won a Filmfans Award for Best Actor, and the film received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil for 2008. He made his Bollywood debut in ‘Rakta Charitra,’ directed by Ram Gopal Verma for which he was nominated for the category of “Best Promising Actor – Male.” After completing the shoot of ‘Singam,’ he was busy with Hindi classes from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM so that he could dub for the film directed by Ram Gopal Varma.
Suriya runs a production house named 2D Entertainment founded by him in the year 2013. He also produced his wife Jyothika’s comeback movie, 36 Vayadhinile. Suriya is a family man. He lives in a joint family considering the importance of family. Suriya initially was content to live in a flat despite his superstar status until his mother insisted that he buy a house with a garden in it for himself. He purchased a house next to his parents and named it Lakshmi, after his mother. Jyothika has a big hand in getting Suriya close to his family.
Suriya is a big fan of Iranian films and has mentioned it quite many times during interviews that he never misses any Iranian cinema. Suriya regularly watches Kamal Hassan’s and Rajinikanth’s movies and looks up to the movie legends. Suriya is the co-founder of the ‘Angaram Foundation’ and also active in ‘Save Tiger campaigns.’ The ‘Angaram Foundation’ helps those children who drop out of school early. He was inspired by his father to begin the movement. He also supports ‘REACH,’ a non-profit organization that cures TB patients for free. He celebrates his birthday doing charity work across the state of Tamil Nadu. Suriya has also sung for many songs.
To Suriya, education is a key factor in one’s life. He believes that education is not only about scoring good marks, but letting one’s determination and self-confidence be one’s guiding force. He makes sure to work in movies that can be watchable by his kids so that he and Jyothika can grow into proud parents.
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?’. Suriya was listed by Forbes in the ‘Top 100 Celebrity List’ and ranked 33 in the year 2013. He was initially recognized as a model the same year when he was honored at the Edison Awards as the Best Male Endorser in South India. So far Suriya has endorsed top brands like Pepsi, Aircel, Sunfeast, Complan, TVS Motors, and Nescafe to name a few.
Suriya can be rightly considered as the “biggest actor” of Tollywood industry with almost 2.3 million followers on Twitter and his popularity among the Tamil and Malayalam speaking spectators. However, his popularity is growing all over the world with his latest 2016 release, 24 The Movie.