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Director turned actor, S. Justin Selvaraj who goes by the stage name SJ Suryah is synonymous with mind-blowing screenplay. Essaying unique characters in his films, his flicks are ones to conspire interesting debates among ardent fans and haters.
Born in Vasudevanallur, Tamil Nadu, he has a degree in Physics from Loyola College and was offered an opportunity to further his studies at an engineering college in Madurai. Suryah however turned down the offer to stay in Chennai and pursue a future as an actor.
Beginning his financial life working in hotels as a steward and waiter, Suryah was later offered an apprenticeship under K.Bhagyaraj and the rest was history.
His journey in Tamil cinema began as an actor in Nethiyadi in 1988, Suryah worked his way up the ranks and diversified his art forms to directing, screenwriting and music composing and producing various films in Indian Entertainment.
Making his directorial debut with Vaali in 1999, Suryah catapulted to stardom shortly after, paving way to his other notable films such as Kushi, New, Anbe Aaruyire and Isai. Filling the director’s seat did not deter him from pursuing acting as he went on to act in a number of films such as Kalvanin Kadhali, Thirumagan and Vyabari. Some of the most notable roles he played portrayed him as an antagonist in films like Sypder and Mersal and worldwide favorite, Iraivi.
Kushi was the defining movie of Suryah’s life as it set his progress in motion as far as the Indian Cinema is concerned. Kushi tells the tale of a pair of egoistical lovers in a college setting, in-line with the 2000s vibe that was predominantly highlighted in films of that era. Having been shot across South India and New Zeland, the film was later remade in Telugu and Hindi and did well for itself in terms of box office success.
New, one of his best films revolves around an 8-year-old boy who is turned into a 28-year-old man by a scientist, was shot in a hundred days. Surya credits the Hollywood film Big (1988) for inspiring him to make New, also noting that this was the film he grew most as an actor. The Hindu claimed that New belonged to a genre that is rare to Indian cinema but named it a success saying Suryah “hit the bulls eye with this one”.
However in August 2005, the Madras High Court revoked the censor certificate for the Telugu version of New and directed the Chennai Commissioner of Police to investigate two criminal complaints registered against Surya, ruling that the film did not provide "clean and healthy entertainment"
Suryah made his comeback in 2016, with the drama film, Iraivi. His role as an alcoholic and abusive director was performed to perfection, fetching him highly positive reviews from both critics and audiences and later went on to earn him a nomination for a national award.
Suryah went on to star in Spyder, a bilingual, and Mersal where he essayed the role of an antagonist in both movies. Mersal became a blockbuster hit and was recognized as his comeback after facing a slump of unsuccessful films.
Surya's 2019 venture was Monster, a sci-fi comedy film co-starring Priya Bhavani Shankar. The film released on 17 May 2019 to positive reviews from critics. Once again, Surya's performance was critically praised.
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