Dedicated to his craft

Budding Star

The elder one, Suriya, one of the highest paid stars in Tamil cinema, has given the industry some of its biggest hits like Khaka Khaka and Ghajini, but the focus has now sharply shifted to his younger sibling, Kaarthi, who though just five films old is already the toast of Kollywood.

Family influences

A mechanical engineer who pursued his higher education in USA, Kaarthi returned to Chennai, an overweight young man hardly interested in films and more keen to do a 10 to 5 job. He did take up a  job but such was the overweening influence of his father and his brother that he soon took that plunge and turned an assistant director to the illustrious auteur Mani Ratnam.

With two actors in the family, Kaarthi was more interested in working behind the camera and looked forward eagerly to directorial assignments. It was by a sheer stroke of luck that he caught the eye of ace director Ameer who was casting for his ambitious film Paruthi Veeran.

Under Ameer’s watchful eyes the girth disappeared in no time and Kaarthi became the main protagonist of the film, a young rustic youth named Paruthi Veeran. With the talented heroine Priyamani in the leading lady’s role, providing a formidable challenge to the young actor, Kaarthi performed with a panache that is rare for a newcomer. The maturity in the actor was clearly evident and the industry woke up to a new star from the Sivakumar household, one who could, with time, pose a challenge even to his talented elder brother.

Paruthi Veeran won a host of awards, including a National Award for the heroine, and was screened in all the major film festivals. Kaarthi himself was dumbfounded at the film becoming a runaway hit but soon realised that this was his métier and after that there was no looking back.

The films that followed like Aayirathil Oruvan, Paiya, Naan Mahaan Illai and Chiruthai all set the box-office registers ringing and Kaarthi’s popularity began to soar. Aayirathi Oruvan, a period film helmed by Selvaraghavan who had made a name with 7G Rainbow Colony, had Kaarthi in the male lead with Andrea Jeremiah and Reema Sen as the female leads. Like Paruthi Veeran, this film too afforded the actor full rein to unleash his acting talents and Kaarthi vindicated the director’s faith in him and did not disappoint the viewers either.

His biggest hit however has been the latest Chiruthai, a remake of the Telugu hit Vikramaikudu. Kaarthi is still in the nascent stage of his career and this film was challenging for him, especially because he was saddled with a double role, that of a honest cop and a pickpocket. This was a dream project for any young actor and Kaarthi, very convincingly, pulled it off. Director Sauryam Siva has extracted a vintage performance from his leading man and his pairing with Kajal Agarwal appears to have clicked in a big way.

Kaarthi has been in the news not just for his acting abilities but his personal life too. The grapevine was agog with rumours which linked him and his heroine in Paiya, the light-skinned, doe-eyed beauty Tamannah. But both of them have been denying these alleged rumours. In fact, Kaarthi has been on friendly terms with all his co-stars, right from Priyamani to Reema and Andrea. His versatility as an actor was showcased through his role in Chiruthai, where he starred with Santhanam and brought the house down with his wisecracks.

Unlike some of his contemporaries who have been keen to cash in on early successes and have suffered burnouts, Kaarthi has not shown any inclination to be a part of the rat race and is known to pore over scripts, before signing on the dotted line. Lately, he has shown interest in a project to be directed by a debutant Shankar Dayal, one-time assistant to director Ezhil. The film is likely to be a social satire though it is still at an embryonic stage.

Kaarthi is not a stunning looker, but his grace and demeanour have endeared him to the masses who flock to theatres to watch his films. His directors and co-stars have cottoned on to him for he has always been a sincere and dedicated star sans tantrums. If Kaarthi continues to sift the chaff from the wheat and  takes on the roles that suit him best, he will definitely give the popular actors in Tamil cinema, Suriya included, a run for their money.

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