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Happy birthday Sivakarthikeyan! When Manam Kothina Paravai became a Maaveeran

As Sivakarthikeyan turns a year older today, let's go back in time to trace his growth 

Happy birthday Sivakarthikeyan! When Manam Kothina Paravai became a Maaveeran

Last Updated: 05.09 PM, Feb 17, 2024


It is said that stars are born, not made. This is probably true, but there are exceptions to that as well. Among the sea of stars that Tamil cinema has witnessed, some even predicting that the star culture is eventually going to die, there seems to be one person whose growth and potential have been in the public arena from the beginning. And that person is celebrating his birthday today (February 17): Sivakarthikeyan.

Star culture is not new to Tamil cinema. Since the time of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, and Vijay and Ajith Kumar, duality has always existed. And then came a time when a throng of actors were out there to prove their prowess and presence. That is when Sivakarthikeyan entered the scene, a person from humble beginnings whose growth has been in the public domain. He is now a bona fide A-lister in the Tamil film industry. He can draw crowds to theatres with the mere mention of his name and deliver a Rs 100 crore box office success during the pandemic. And now he is ready to shift gears with his upcoming projects.

Sivakarthikeyan's humble beginnings

Personally speaking, and as someone who has consumed more entertainment on television than theatres during childhood, Sivakarthikeyan can easily be called a household name. His pathbreaking growth in films is all him. With no cinematic background, Sivakarthikeyan started off as a mimicry artist who was known to imitate his idol Rajinikanth often (do not miss the video in which he mimics the veteran actor in front of him at an award show). 

He went on to win a reality comedy show, Kalakka Povathu Yaaru? Talent played a big role and comedy is the actor’s forte. This helped him to get visibility, but luck and hard work have also helped Sivakarthikeyan. If it was by chance that he replaced a contestant midway through the dance reality show Jodi Number 1 season three, it was sheer hard work he put into learning dance and bagging the runner-up position. 

Subsequently, he also went on to anchor the show and several others on the channel, which put him in the much-needed spotlight. This was all thanks to his spontaneous and witty one-liners.

Known for his spot-on counterbacks and comic timing, Sivakarthikeyan went on to star in some of Atlee's short films. He also starred alongside opposite Ajith in Aegan (the scenes eventually got deleted), until he bagged his debut lead role in director Pandiraj's Marina. If that was not enough, Sivakarthikeyan made a limited yet strong presence in 3, in which he played Dhanush's friend. It was also a crucial point for him, given that he had debuted along with his regular hit collaborator, Anirudh Ravichander. 

But the real game changer was in 2013, when Sivakarthikeyan was able to do a dual-hero subject like Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga while also solely shouldering successful films like Ethir Neechal and Maan Karate. Of course, a huge contributor to this was the actor’s kid-friendly persona, comical one-liners, and catchy music by Anirudh.

Shifting gears and experimentation

In 2018, about six years after Sivakarthikeyan made his debut and gave films like Velaikkaran, Remo and Rajinimurugan, came his maiden production venture, Kanaa, a female-led sports drama. In the meantime, he also began to double up as a singer and lyricist, almost rounding him off as a multi-faceted artist. 

However, the real deal was when Sivakarthikeyan made Doctor in 2021 and headlined the black comedy directed by Nelson Dilipkumar. A film that was released after the lukewarm response of his superhero stunt Hero, Doctor was indeed a risk for Sivakarthikeyan. The film was co-produced by him and released at a time when theatres faced repercussions due to the pandemic. The film consciously did not tap into the rib-tickling talent of Sivakarthikeyan. There wasn't a single line in Doctor that could evoke laughs; comedy was the actor's greatest strength.  

The film took daring steps, revealing how it complemented Sivakarthikeyan’s ability to understand his strengths and weaknesses through his choices. It proved the actor’s versatility and confidence in what he could do, even when given the bare minimum. Doctor went on to shatter box-office records and set Sivakarthikeyan in the top tier of actors.

12 years of Sivakarthikeyan
12 years of Sivakarthikeyan

Reigning the stardom

With Doctor becoming a hit, Sivakarthikeyan paired up with debutant Cibi Chakravarthy for the campus comedy film Don. The film not only brought Sivakarthikeyan to his strongest elements but also captured the family audience with its emotional content. A 100-crore-grossing film, Don became one of the most successful of Sivakarthikeyan's films, which prompted the actor to indulge in experimentation and take on more serious roles simultaneously.

Of course, there were some misfires and a great deal of risk-taking. Prince was one such film, in which Sivakarthikeyan took up absurdist comedy, a sub-genre he hadn’t tried before. The film opened to mixed reviews, but personally, what was not there to laugh at jokes that were just aimed at being silly and platonic? 

However, Sivakarthikeyan bounced back soon with Maaveeran. Packing a punch with a dash of content, novelty, and performances, he fashioned himself into a Maaveeran, a superhero film that got top honours in every year-ender of 2023. The film not only made Sivakarthikeyan show off his acting prowess but also put rumours of his rivalry with Vijay Sethupathi to rest, with the latter lending his voice to a very prominent role in the film.

A poster of Sivakarthikeyan's Prince
A poster of Sivakarthikeyan's Prince

As we celebrate Sivakarthikeyan on his birthday today, the actor is working on two prestigious projects. Only yesterday, the makers of SK 21 unveiled the glimpse of Amaran, another promising project. A biopic of a military officer, the first of its kind for the actor, the glimpse was just more than the title reveal. Backed by Kamal Haasan, Amaran looks like a step for Sivakarthikeyan to cement himself as a performer and actor, more than just an entertainer. He is also pairing up with AR Murugadoss for his next, and Sivakarthikeyan is yet again breaking boundaries and reinventing himself, all I have to say right now is:

A star who grew to heights as I grew up, a star I saw climbing up the ladder one step at a time and reaching the sky, a star who showed anything is possible to achieve, and a star who backed on sheer hard work, happy birthday, Sivakarthikeyan!