It’s 25 years since actor Suriya made an unsure and gawky debut in the Tamil film in director Vasanth Sai’s Nerrukku Ner (1997). Interestingly, Vasanth’s Sivaranjaniyum Innum Sila Pengalum, which he produced, bagged National Awards in the best Tamil film, best supporting actress and best editing categories. Suriya, on the other hand, has walked away with the most coveted title, the best actor National award for Soorarai Pottru.
This direct-on-OTT release, on Amazon Prime Video, was a biopic on GR Gopinath, the man who blazed a new trail with budget airlines in India, Air Deccan. The film also copped some flak for taking some ‘creative liberties’ with Gopinath’s character and misrepresenting him.
But Suriya’s performance was convincing enough for the National Awards jury to make him share the award with Ajay Devgn, who won it for Tanhaji.
Here were we have chosen 5 movies of Suriya over his two-and-a-half decade long career for you to watch on the OTT platforms. Though many movies of the Tamil star are worth watching, we have opted for this as we believe that these five provide a glimpse into his various talents.
Pithamagan (2003) – SunNXT
This was the film that set gave him a break as an ‘actor’. His career was at best middling till films like friends and nandha happened in 2001. But pitamagan was Suriya’s real breakout film in which there was also Vikram, who incidentally won a National award for his role. But make no mistake about it, Suriya as zany small-time offender with a heart of gold had the more audience-pleasing role. He had to play a character that had to be slightly over-the-top to register. Also, this was an out-and-out village person role and Suriya had earned his spurs as an urban romantic hero. It was a challenge for Suriya, and he showed us that he was up to it.
There is lot of expectation now as Suriya is making a movie with Bala, the director of nandha and pitamagan.
Maayavi (2005) – Amazon Prime Video
This was, in a sense, a continuation of his role in pitamagan. The swagger, irreverence and glib talk of a guide at a tourist spot. He is not averse to small crimes too. The humor of the film, in spirit, was pithaagman-ish, if you will. Suriya was in great form, again nailing a slightly corase, loud-mouthed character with the assurance of a veteran. Around the time of this film too, Suriya’s romance with Jyothika (whom he subsequently married) was at its peak. Their on-screen chemistry was very effective in this. The film bombed at the box office. But people who watch it on OTT or TV often wonder why it did not have a better run at the theaters.
Varanam Aayiram (2008) – JioCinema
Suriya’s equation with director Gautam Vasudev Menon is well-known. The latter had given him a good break in Kaakha Kaakha (2003). and Varanam Aayiram further cemented Suriya’s place as a bankable star in Tamil filmdom. This film had him in an author-backed role (in fact, a double-act) with multiple shades. As an impetuous love-lorn college student, a love-tragic druggie, a footloose vagabond, an Airforce officer, a doting dad, a caring son…Suriya had such a scope in this movie. He did it all admirably. The songs of Varanam Aayiram — all hall-of-famers now — also added an extra layer of attraction.
Ayan (2009) – SunNxt
A memorable commercial masala movie that had emotions, pulsating action, great songs and seat-edge-thrill moments. The film was a great package. And Suriya too was in great forms as a smart smuggler and an avenger. Suriya’s strength has been that apart from acting, he is an impressive dancer and a bundle of energy in action sequences. In one action set-piece in this film that was shot in Africa, Suriya exhibits parkour skills and the whole scene had the verve and bounce of that memorable stunt scene from James Bond’s Casino Royale.
NGK (2019) – Amazon Prime Video
NGK did not have a great run at the theaters. Critics too were largely unimpressed. But this a movie that could be slotted under what the film press usually calls as ‘glorious misfire’. There were many memorable and outstanding scenes and sequences, it is just that they did not come together as a meaningful film. But Suriya again showed that he was not averse to taking up characters that were gray and dark. There is a certain ambition in his choices, and he does not take it easy. NGK showed Suriya’s spirit is restless and always up for experimentation. Never mind, if it does not click. There’s always the next time.