“I don’t think I’ll direct a film anytime soon. At the moment, I’m having too much fun playing lead roles to even think about going behind the camera,” SJ Suryah says, in a matter-of-fact tone.
Ever since he surprised the audiences with his performance in Karthik Subbaraj’s Iraivi, he has stuck to acting in films and thanks to AR Murugadoss’s bilingual film Spyder, SJ Suryah has made it evident that he’s here to stay as an actor.
While his role as Bhairavudu in Spyder was dark and psychotic to say the least, the actor is confident that his latest avatar as a stylish villain in Mersal will come as a big surprise.
The film is going to release in Telugu as Adhirindhi and is all set to hit the screens for Deepavali.
“Although some of Vijay’s films were dubbed in Telugu in the past, I can guarantee that Adhirindhi will make a big splash in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It’ll be a major career boost for Vijay in Telugu. The film has got a good concept and a nice message, and the Telugu audiences will love the flashback sequence in the film,” he avers.
Incidentally, there’s very little that we know about what SJ Suryah has done in the film, and the actor himself remains tight-lipped about his role.
“Let it be a surprise for the audience. All I can say is that I’ve two different shades, and my role in the flashback episode is something to watch out for. I had a lot of fun sporting a stylish look as a villain and full credit to Atlee for writing an interesting role for me,” SJ Suryah says.
“Atlee himself is a good actor. During Spyder’s shoot, Murugadoss would allows us to play the role, and then, he would improvise the scenes or dialogues on the spot keeping our body language in mind. However, Atlee has a different approach. He performs the scene during the narration itself and he knows that’s what he’s looking for in the final cut. I picked up a lot of body language for the character from him. It helped me a lot to pull off the role," he adds.
SJ Suryah, the actor
The more he talks about his love for acting, it becomes obvious that everything he did over the years was to inch closer to his dream. And after all these years, he finally seems to reaping huge benefits.
While Murugadoss and Atlee pitched him in negative characters, he is doing scores of other films either as a lead actor or as the second lead. His next film is being helmed by Ashwin Saravanan, who made quite an impression with his debut film Maaya which had Nayanthara in a lead role.
Admittedly, it was in the mid-90s that Suryah had made up his mind to become a lead actor; however, it took him almost a decade to fulfill his dream.
“If you want to make it big as an actor, you need a director and a producer to back you. However, back then, no one was willing to cast me as a lead actor. So, I had to become a director, make money and become a producer, before I fulfilled my dream (to become a lead actor) in 2004 with New. It was all part of the plan,” he laughs.
Although he has done a handful of films where he played lead characters, it wasn’t until Karthik Subbaraj’s Iraivi and Selvaraghavan’s Nenjam Marappathillai that people began seeing him in a new light.
“Unfortunately, the achievements of director Suryah were much more than those of actor Suryah (laughs), and there was a time when I did a lot of stupid stuff. So, I had a lot of people telling me that I should continue directing films instead of acting. It’s not that they were trying to degrade me because a lot of them were well-wishers who wanted me to stick to what I was good at. But it used to pain me a lot," he confesses.
However, the tide has now turned.
"Now, all those people understand why I have been avoiding direction. I have always wanted to be an actor. Surprisingly, a lot of women and kids liked my performance in Spyder. When they talk to me, they end up pouring their heart out. Even on Twitter, a lot of girls tweet to me, the comments aren’t merely good or nice, they end up saying “SUUPPPPEEERRRRR” out of excitement (laughs). It feels great to be in this zone. The same thing will happen in Mersal (Adhirindhi) too,” SJ Suryah shares.
Back in 2000, soon after SJ Suryah was hailed as a director to watch out for after he made Vaali, he went on to direct Kushi, a film with Vijay and Jyothika in lead roles. A lot has changed since then.
Both Vijay and Jyothika went on to become stars in their own right, and now, SJ Suryah and Vijay are back together for Mersal. Ask him if he recalls anything from the Kushi says, SJ Suryah acknowledges that it was serious business for everyone back in the day.
“We were all too involved with what we were trying to do. Of course, we had a wonderful time shooting for the scenes, especially the romantic episodes between Vijay and Jyothika. I had an equally amazing time directing the Telugu version with Pawan Kalyan and Bhoomika,” he replies.
So, has anything changed about Vijay in all these years?
“He’s become a much bigger star, but at the same time, he has become extremely down-to-earth, humble, sincere, and he’s very focused. It was lovely working with him after so long.”
After scoring a smash hit like Kushi, surprisingly, SJ Suryah didn’t direct another film with Vijay after that.
The moment we bring up the topic, SJ Suryah gets into a philosophical mode saying, “Sometimes, we plan something but God has different plans for us. It’s not that simple. Things have to fall in place. But at the moment, directing films isn’t on my mind. It’s not my target either. My plan is to take SJ Suryah, the actor, to the next level. I didn’t plan to act in a negative role in Spyder or Mersal - they just happened. We can’t change anything if it was meant to happen.”