Years after he became Suriya, the actor still drifts back to being Saravanan sometimes. Nishad Padiyarath finds more about the south Indian superstar.

“Patience pays rich dividends. Hard work would never go waste…”  Wise words but when they come from South Indian superstar Suriya, the ageless saying tends to gain more import as the actor struggled hard before reaching the super stardom.

“There are no shortcuts to success. Work hard and success will follow. Had if I did work hard, I wouldn’t be sitting with you and talking to you now,” he says candidly in an exclusive interview with Times of Oman.

Suryia was here in Muscat recently as part of a film shoot.  “The whole atmosphere is calm and pleasant here in Oman unlike Dubai which is so busy. Here there are lots of locations to make use of. This place is not about deserts and building but there are other things you see as you travel inside. I think we will be using half of Oman in this film. We are trying our best to make use of all the important location,” he says.

This is the second time he is coming to Muscat. “My friend who studied with me in Loyola College is settled here in Oman since last 12 years. I did come last time to meet him. I didn’t plan before coming here, otherwise I would have brought Jyothika and my daughter here. This is such a beautiful place,” he says with a smile that reminds that particularly reminds you of his father, the evergreen actor Sivakumar.

“I am very conscious of this factor and I see to it that there is not even a trace of my father’s mannerisms or performing style in me,” says Suriya.

Suriya doesn’t mind interviews. “But only selectively. Otherwise I feel very naked. I feel I have given everything away, all the information away.” It sounds like a new admission, but it’s the old celebrity dilemma: you want to reach out to your adoring public, and you still want your privacy.

That is the thing about being in the limelight: there are no shadows to hide in. And last two years, especially, has been an extremely visible on Suriya. It began with a critically-adored hit Vaaranam Aayiram and went on to a critic-proof blockbuster Ayan. Though Surya himself may have been overly critical about his work in Aadhavan, he unequivocally admits he is learning from mistakes. “Ayan was the biggest blockbuster but Aadhavan tried to make the same benchmark it didn’t create much of excitement. I think you learn from your mistakes and that is exactly what I am doing every time,” he says.

This is the real Suriya opposite me, barreling through the conversation with fragments of sentences – phrases, really, – as if he would long ago realized the fully articulated declarations had to a snowball’s chance in hell of keeping up with his thoughts. Between these phrases, Suriya pauses a lot. He laughs a lot. It’s a nice, open sound that makes you think he is dropping his guard. Then the laugh dies away, and so does the presumption.

In Singam he plays a cop for the second time in a career spanning a decade but Suriya says the movie is different from his super hit Kaakha Kaakha that he acted with his wife Jyothika. The movie is directed by the popular director Hari and has Anushka Shetty, Prakash Raj and Vivek in prominent roles.

“Every film is different. If you have a successful formula you cannot do over do it. You will have to deviate and try different things. I play a cop who is in the village and due to certain circumstances is forced to come to the city. This film is more about family values unlike Kaakha Kaakha,” he says.

According to Suriya, nobody can rise above the bad script. “Everything will make sense when there is a different script and the script should give you that spark or the drive to approach every scene differently. I am basically a director’s actor. I need a good character. Once that is there, I always leave the decision to the director. I am confident about my performance. The homework I do is to look different in every role,” he says.

Ask about the competition among Tamil actors like Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan, Vijay and Vikram, the actor remains to be humble. “Everybody has got their own identity, style and place. You have to prove yourself every time when you do a film. I believe you have to compete with you own film. After the release of the movie, in two or three days it becomes a history. And again you have to prove yourself. When I experimented with Ghajani, people were praising me and I was given the challenge to do far more better performances in other movies. Only success will make you stay in this field,” he says.

Suryia honestly admits that he never thought he would become an actor one day. “None of my close friends thought I would be an actor. I am saying this because I never discussed movies with them. I never had cinema in my mind. It just happened all of a sudden. It was not like a dream come true for me. The next day it became totally different in life. I never thought tomorrow I will be an actor…it just happened,” he says.

Speaking about the large fan base he has here in Muscat, Suriya says: “Nice to see people here. They have an organized life and being here since last few days, I see all these people are living happily. I met some people from an Electricity board and few of them in a Mexican Restaurant here. They come to me and talked for hours and I think talking to these people who likes to see my films gives me more satisfaction than anything else,” he concludes.

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