Camera: P. Ganesh Babu | Text: Jyothsna
The Aadhavan contest conducted by had a mind blowing response and the lucky winners were in for a twin treat. The first one was watching Aadhavan and the second one was the interactive session with Suriya at the Four Frames Preview Theatres in Chennai. Suriya answered all the queries of his fans patiently in his typical captivating style. Excerpts from the interview

BW Visitors:
How are Diya and Joe?

Suriya: They are super.

You seem to be working only with established directors. When will you work with new directors?

I will definitely work with new directors and I have been considering this for quite some time. I do understand that film business is expanding. When we did Kaakka Kaakka, the budget was 3 crores and when it crossed this mark, Gautham and I pitched in our money. Now Aadhavan’s business is 35 crores. So when the amount is big, responsibility is more. When a new director comes in, there is more pressure on him to make the project financially viable. It is not just about story-telling and new content. We need to satisfy many people. It is just not Madras alone. The market that needs to be satisfied is quite huge. Minimum guarantee can be considered as a responsibility. At the same time I don’t want to increase my salary. But I want good technicians in my film. I want the best director, best cameraman, best music director and so on. It is not that I don’t want to work with new directors. They can work in our

productions. My cousin Gnanavel is on it. I want to encourage new directors and new ideas. I have even mentioned in Vijay TV that I have started something called the story department (Kadai Ilakaa). Of course I am not the one who pioneered it. It is there from the times of M.G.R and Kamal sir. They discuss many stories and ideas and develop the content scene by scene. I want to fund this. There is a lot of money, time and intricate details involved in it. Of course I am keen to encourage new talent. I can cite the example of Sillunnu Oru Kaadal which was done by a new director which is almost like my production venture.

" I want

good technicians

in my film"

When will you do a film like Nandha again?

I wanted to do a film with Bala sir but I missed the chance. Karthi and I were supposed to do this. Vishal and Arya are doing it now, an excellent project. I was not able to give the dates and I did not want Bala to wait also. I am keen to work with Bala.

What kind of films you like to work?

I want my films to be successful. At the same time, I cannot be catering to one section of the audience alone. I want every film of mine to be different and special. When we talk of Aadhavan, although the genre is mainstream cinema, the base idea was something different. A hired assassin misses his target but realizes that the target is his dad which cannot be revealed. He needs to protect his dad and at the same time should give an impression to the antagonists that he is on the job. In this balancing act, he protects his dad and gives away his life. This is the actual story but it got transformed on the way due to various reasons. So Aadhavan is a different kind of film in its own way.

I am in this field and I know my responsibilities and where I am going.

At this juncture I would also like to recall my fan Shyamsundar who has written in the visitor’s column of about my work and my course of journey. I am thankful to him. These kinds of feedbacks help me introspect.

You have chosen the path of Kamal. Was it planned?

" I am not a

Paruthi Veeran

in the first film itself "

I am not that intelligent. I learnt things a tad slowly and I have to accept that. I was not a born actor. I am not a Paruthi Veeran in the first film itself. Through my hard work I have an identity now. You all have given me support which I need to sustain. In addition to that there is already a path laid by Kamal and Bala. I just want to take this route. Kamal would always ask if I would choose the comfort of an AC room or toil in the tough terrain to establish myself. I would only choose the second one. I have caught the tail of a tiger and I cannot relax. I need to set up a dynamic benchmark. I am eager to climb up the ladder. I am not sure if I would reach the top rung. I just want to break my previous bench mark. Every success becomes a history. I cannot always be talking about Ghajini. I will get stagnated.

Are you a police officer in Ram Gopal Verma’s Hindi film?

No, I am not a police officer in the film. It is a real life character whose name is Suri. It is a men’s film and the genre is different. There will be lot of action and it will not be a family film. This film will be different from my earlier films.

" It is a men’s film "

In Bollywood, Amitabh, Abhishek and Aishwarya feature in one film. Why cannot you try something like that here?

I am afraid it would become a family film then. The initiative should come from outside and not from within. An enterprise aimed not at bringing us together but focusing on the script would be ideal. In fact Vaaranam Aayiram was something like that to start with. We wanted appa in the film but realized he cannot play the young Krishnan and it was dropped. As regards my dad, he has done the entire gamut of roles in his career and he is not for small roles now. He is into Kamba Ramayanam and quite happy with what he is doing. Only a powerful character can justify bringing him into films again.

You seem to be losing and gaining weight so easily. How?

It is only a mind game. I did not go to the gym just to tone up muscles but for the character that I play. Gautham’s narration in Vaaranam Aayiram made me work towards that. I realized I was in the right platform and can push some more. Fitness has been an integral part of my life from my childhood days. I always had some kind of inspirational friends in my school and college for fitness. Once I came into acting, my characters pushed me to be robust. If I had donned on only soft roles, I may not have gone this far. I got Nanda, Kaakka Kaakka and then

" I realized

I was in the

right platform "

Ghajini. I was skeptical about my height initially but knew it can be corrected through camera angles. So it all started that way. For the six pack abs, I had the guidance of Aamir Khan who sent me a trainer. Initially, I was put off by the strenuous schedule and almost thought of giving it up. In fact nobody asked me for six pack abs. However the trainer inspired me to achieve. He also suggested some enhancer drugs which could have made the process a little easier. But I did not want that. I tried around four times but it worked out only in the fifth attempt. Two and a half hours work out every day whether there is shooting or not. I used to run even during nights. The session included cardios, abs and weight training. It was only hard work.

You worked so hard for a small duration on screen?

Gautham cheated me (laughs). I thought I would emerge from a pool and do an SRK act a la Om Shanthi Om. Anyway, jokes apart, I knew about the duration and the scene in the film. I knew it was important enough and tried it.

According to Kamal he fills the place of Sivaji but there is no one to fill his place. But we fans feel that the crown fits on your head perfectly. What is your opinion?

I feel humbled (bowing to thunderous applause). It is a big responsibility and cannot be achieved in just one film. Kamal was always avant garde and it has taken a long time for all of us to understand him. He is a mightily talented person and I am nowhere near him. I am

slowly learning things. Of course I am hopeful to do better and better. I don’t have to do a Hindi film or learn Hindi. But I wanted to work with Ram Gopal Verma as he has done good cult films. I am sure the experience would be good enough and different for the audience too. I am working towards making my projects more special. Even now I get tensed when I stand in front of the camera. It takes a couple of takes for me to ok my shot. I am not like Joe or Karthi who get it right in the first shot itself.

" I am not like

Joe or Karthi "

Who was responsible for your screen name?

Vasanth and Mani sir approved the name Suriya and asked for suggestion from my dad. Mani sir has named many of his filmi characters as Suriya. So that’s how I got this name.

Who is your close friend?

To be honest, I don’t have any close friend. I am not ashamed to say this though it is a sad thing. I am fond of many people but no close friends as such. However I have got many chances to interact with Kamal. Madhavan and I meet quite often as a family. Ajith invites me for his daughter’s birthdays. Vijay and I also meet quite often.

Who proposed – you or Joe?

It did not happen that way. It is not like we said ‘I love you’ and things like that. It just happened.

Why cannot you concentrate only on realistic films?

" Every film has

its own sense

and sensibilities "

Every film has its own sense and sensibilities. For example, when you take Hari’s films, his stories have a different reach. Ayan is a different kind of entertainer which has satisfied many people. Aadhavan which again is a commercial entertainer has reaped in 60% of the collections in the first couple of days. I feel everything is a possibility and I think I can combine both commercialism and realism.

There is a continuous line up of commercial flicks like Ayan, Aadhavan. How did it happen?

It was not planned. It just happened. In fact I should have worked with Mysskin but the project did not take off. It is not that I want to deliver only action flicks or romantic flicks in a row. It just happens.

Will you be working with A R Murugadoss?

Yes, it will take some time for the shooting to commence.

Can you talk like the ten year old boy of Aadhavan now?

I am sorry, it cannot happen in a single attempt.

There is a lot of fresh talent in the industry. What is your take on this?

It is very good and heartening. My entry in to the filmdom was smooth, thanks to my father. But one needs a lot of talent to enter and sustain in the industry without any godfather and I really appreciate these people for that. I want to encourage them in some way or the other. I want to rope in them in my project and all efforts are being done for that.

Any inspirational films?

All good films are inspirational. Every good film is like a fresh blood into the industry. In that way, I like behindwoods who support any new attempt without bias and would highlight the element. They love good cinema. If you want to know how the audience perceives a film, I have no second thoughts. I would straight away click on You will not find undue support or criticism in the site. I like the music review and visitor’s column. I can go on and on about this. I should thank them for this wonderful opportunity.

Your favorite song?

Nenjukkul Peididum from Vaaranam Aayiram.

Your first film had two heroes. Will you do similar subjects?

Yes, I can do a cameo. But there are issues of commercial feasibility. If the team is good enough which can be understood in an hour of narration and in the manner of visualization, I am all game. If the idea and the role appeal to me, I would go for it.

With RGV’s film, will you be moving to Bollywood?

I do admit Bollywood is a huge industry and people have dreams to go there. But I am very very satisfied here. I like it here.

When are you coming to politics?

I am fine here. I believe that society has done a lot to me and I also trust I can do lots to the society. My favorite channel is education and through Agaram Foundation, I am working towards that. I don’t think I need to be in politics to do good things to society. I am hopeful I can do that being here.

How do you handle criticism?

I always remember the phrase- potrudalilum unmai illai, thootrudalilum unmai illai. Nee yaar endru unakku theriyum. (There is no truth in plaudits and criticism. You know who you are). If the feedback is genuine I take it. Otherwise I smile it off like how Mani sir reacts. Whatever be the feedback, it will only be received with a sweet smile from him. That’s all. We know what we have done and we don’t need anybody to endorse it. I think that judgment is enough and the rest is only peripheral.

Favorite heroines?

There are many. In the recent films, I liked the heroine in Subramaniapuram. I like fresh talent. In Hindi, I like Kangana Ranaut and Kajol.

Would you foray into direction?

I think the spark should come. I have not gone into that thought process yet. I have not yet started giving suggestions to the director. It may happen at a later stage. But not in the immediate future!

Will you do an Agni Natchathiram remake with Ajith?

There are many problems in it which cannot be discussed.

In your career, have you done films which are meant for others?

Yes. But, as they say, the name of the person eating is ingrained in every rice grain; I would only get what I am destined for. The films that I was supposed to do, somebody else has done and vice versa. The dynamics in cinema will keep changing. A lot of things happen before a film is released.

If you have not been an actor, what would you be?

I think I would have been in the garment industry. Generally, our careers are decided around 23 -25 years. After that it is difficult to do the jumping act. I think I would have stuck to the garment industry if not for films. As my manager Thyagu says, I would have created a place for myself in that industry too. Of course, I would not have had such a sea of well-wishers like now. Wherever I would be I am confident of making a mark for myself.

Any films that you missed?

Cheran’s Autograph and Bala sir’s current project. It keeps pricking me and I think it will continue to do so.

If a film flops, who takes the onus?

I think the entire team but more specifically the actor and the director.

Is your film with Murugadoss, a Tamil one or a bilingual?

We are shooting in one language i.e. in Tamil but it will be dubbed and released in two or three languages.

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