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A scene from Ayan
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'Ameer, Bala and Gowtham (Menon) transformed Surya into an actor par excellence'

You worked with Surya in his first film. How much has he grown as an actor according to you?

I was the cinematographer of Surya's debut film Nerukku Ner. Vasanath was planning to make the film with Ajith and Vijay. Ajith had some date problem and he withdrew from the film, and the shooting was to start in three days.

Vasanth decided to find a new guy as we could not get any other established hero at such short notice. Then Vasanth said, "Let us go and meet Sivakumar Sir's son, Saravanan."

When we reached his house Saravanan was going to the office; he was working in an export company then. When Vasanth asked, both he and his father said no. He had not even thought about acting in films then. He was a thin, short, and very normal.

I only shot the make-up test. I then wondered how he was going to stand opposite Vijay. We made him wear two inch heels and put some shoulder pads. Soon, the guy who not even in his wildest dreams thought of acting in films was acting romantic scenes with Simran!

For the first four days, he felt extremely awkward about the whole thing. He was very shy and not at all comfortable in front of the camera. After the shoot, he used to tell us that he didn't want to do the film.

We were shooting in Kolkata then. One night, to cheer him up, I took him for a walk, had pani puri, rosogolla, etc. I kept telling him that he need not worry because it happened to all new actors. He was such a good guy that you really felt like protecting him.

Over the years, he has gained in confidence and I think it was directors like Ameer, Bala and Gowtham (Menon) who transformed him into an actor par excellence that he is today. Of course, you cannot forget Vasanth who first spotted him. Working with such wonderful directors has given him the confidence that was not there in the beginning.

On the first day of shooting Ayan, I saw a Surya who was so different from what he was in Nerukku Ner. Everyone should grow in whatever field they are in, and Surya has grown in leaps and bounds.

Now he loves what he is doing and that gives him extra confidence. He works really hard and does his homework well. That is why Surya is where he is, today. He was fantastic in the action sequences. Some of the action he did in Africa was simply mind-blowing.

Listen to: Mast Malang
Also Read: First Look: Surya's fab abs

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