I felt guilty about not being a good brother: Surya - TOI Article

Surya opens up about his emotions, his guilt as an older brother and his respect for his wife.Surya, 38, is a thinking person, deeply sensitive, but holds back expressing his emotions. While he may not have been the good and talented boy and has learnt it the hard way, he knows that he has made his parents proud today. He is aware that he needs to live up to his dad's clean image and is a complete family man, with his wife Jyothika being his emotional anchor.

He is extremely simple and would have happily continued to stay in a flat despite of his superstar status, had his mother not insisted on him buying a house with a garden for himself. He has not only bought a house next to his parents', but has also named it after his mother Lakshmi. He opens up to Times of india about his emotional insecurities, his guilt as an older brother and why he respects his wife Jyothika. 

Let's talk about your father Sivakumar, who is so respected...

My father came to Chennai at the age of 16 from a village in Coimbatore. He was an artist and was clear he wanted to do something, so he came to Chennai and joined an art course for eight years before he came into films. He was not a superstar but was known to be a character actor and had a clean image. He was finally married off to my mother, who was from a neighbouring village. He had, by that time, already been rejected by 25 girls since he was from the film industry and people had reservations giving their daughter to an actor. My dad never had a bank balance of more than three lakh and was always extremely compassionate towards his producers. We did not go to a five star hotel till I was in Class XII.

Let's talk about your childhood...

Even though my dad was an actor, I was never exposed to the industry and never visited a set. We watched films as a commoner. I had this inferiority complex as a child, as I was not good at speaking. I was also not good in studies or sports and would often flunk in four-five subjects. My brother, Karthi, who was two years younger to me, was in contrast, good in studies and smart and could entertain 50 people at a time. If I went to an ice-cream parlour, I would not know how to order and would ask Karthi to do it for me. Like my father, he was also good at painting. As kids, we hardly spoke and fought a lot. I would often make fun of him as he was plump. I would bully him as he was scared of darkness. We both went to the same school and once I remember, I was given a role to just stand on one side of the stage and bless like a prop with no dialogue or movement. Whereas, he was playing Balram and had the vibrant role on stage, dancing and singing. Just before he went on stage, I pulled his necklace on purpose. I was so bad to him.

He cried, put on another necklace but still performed very well and I felt, 'Shit, he still did it.' Even when he was in LKG, girls would find him cute and would come pulling his cheek while nobody bothered about me. We went to the same computer class, he would get the marks, whereas I would fail. It was not that every time I was against him, but we had once gone to an exhibition when I was six and this computer horoscope thing told us that we had enemy grahas and that we would always fight. Even though it was totally illogical, it stuck in my head. I also feel guilty that I was not a good brother to him and did not support him or guide him and always grudged him his attention. My parents too knew that he was smarter, but my mother also knew that I was the weaker child and would not ask for anything myself, so had a softer corner for me.

Was films the obvious choice for you?

Post tenth, I got an offer from a neighbour, who was a director who told me he would also convince my dad, but I knew, given my looks and height, I could not be an actor and went on to doing my graduation in Commerce. Being in Loyola College exposed me to other options and gave me confidence, apart from the freedom to bunk classes. I became a merchandiser and then a garment manufacturer and interacting with foreign buyers and manufacturing foreign brands in India, gave me a high. I did that for three years and came to know at that time that my dad was not doing as well and that my mother had borrowed ` 50,000 from a neighbour, which we were not able to return for five months. To start my own business, I would have required at least one crore which, obviously, I could not ask my dad for.

Coincidentally, my dad was returning with director Vasanth from a Singapore function when Vasanth saw me at the airport and offered me a film, which was being produced by Mani Ratnam sir with Vijay in it. Ajith was to play the other hero, but he had backed out, so I was offered the role. The next day, his offer stayed in my head while I was riding my bike to work. I mentioned the same to my friends and they laughed it off and I took that seriously as I felt challenged and said to myself, 'Why not? Let me prove it to them.' Also given that my dad was not going through the best phase of his life, I felt the need to take responsibility and agreed to do the film. When Mani sir saw me and said 200% he can be a good actor, it gave me the confidence. I learnt everything in front of the camera and for the first five years, I was a beggar who took whatever roles I got and none of the films did well till Kaakha Kaakha happened later.

What attracted you to your wife Jyothika?

I met her in 1999, when she was shooting her first filmPoovellam Kettuppar, which happened to be my fifth film. Even though my career was not successful at that time, she became a big star post the film. I was attracted to her for her sincerity. Even though she was a Mumbai girl, who did not know Tamil, she learnt the language and would not fumble with her lines being the only woman amongst men on the set. She had no ego and I liked the way she would treat her assistants and I saw her grow as an actor. But we did not share mobile numbers till three years later, when I was passing her set, trying to avoid her which she saw and asked her assistant to call me. She said, 'Why are you not saying a hi to me?' She was a big star, while I was still struggling and was doing a film Nandha with Bala at that time.

We started talking and I also invited her to open a snooker joint for one of my friends. My actual big break also came through her for Gautham Menon's Kaakha Kaakha, in which she had already been cast. She could not sit in the audience, watched Nandha from the projector room and recommended me to Gautham that made him cast me. We got married in 2006, post which Jo stopped working. I like the fact that she has always been clear-headed about her opinions and people, is humble and takes good decisions.

Also unlike her, I was not as close to my family and she taught me how to become a good father and disconnect from work at home. She makes me give my kids a bath, take them for a drive, put them to sleep and spend time with them. We are good friends and I don't hide anything from her. Unlike me, who is boring, she is fun and speaks a lot. Apart from my director Bala, who always made me realise my potential, she instilled confidence in me. I think Jo likes me being this simple and shy guy despite the family I belong to.

Now that you are a superstar, have you learnt to communicate more?

I am still a rebel at times and don't talk nicely to my parents and still want them to understand. Even though they were always there for me, when I was not successful, I would always go into this shell and say, 'Don't ask me questions?' When I wanted something, I could not ask them, including my wedding with Jyothika, which took some time in convincing them. I really got close to my brother when he left for the USA and felt that he had to take the hard route and struggle, as I was not successful in the industry.

My dad had said, 'Let him stand on his feet and do his MS there.' He studied and became the best student there. He came back and wanted to be an actor, but started assisting Mani sir instead. I did not know he wanted to become an actor, till my cousin told me. I went to him and said, 'Karthi, I am sorry, I have never supported you.' He still said, 'No. I have always looked up to you and am proud of you. It is a challenge for me how I should live up to you.' He put it that way and I became closer to him. Even today, while my father has more confidence in Karthi and he knows he can handle any script or director and make everyone his fan and while I may still be short-tempered and may not show my emotions, I know I have made my parents proud.


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...