Tamil film Actors

There have been many actors in tamil cinema from its early stage till date. Even today there are many upcoming actors in this industry. Many actors come and go in this industry from its early stage till now some actors make a mark in tamil film industry. Here are the actors who made an important mark in this industry from its early stage till now.

MK. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar

Mayavaram Krishnamurthy Thyagaraja Bhagavathar also called M.K.T., was a Tamil film actor, producer and Carnatic music singer. He is considered to be one of the most successful Tamil film actors ever.

Bhagavathar was acclaimed for his powerful, melodious voice and the ease with which he could sing high pitch notes. Critics and film historians acknowledge Bhagavathar as the "first superstar of Tamil cinema".

Bhagavathar was a philantropist and contributed for important social and religious causes. He was awarded a "Diwan Bahadur" title by the Governor of Madras for his contribution to the British war efforts during the Second World War but he turned it down.

PU Chinnappa Bhagavathar

P. U. Chinnappa Bagavathar, also popular know as P.U.Chinnappa was a popular singer and Tamil movie actor during 1930's and 1940's from Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu, India.He is also credited to be the first 'Super Star' of Tamil Movies.His notable blockbuster movies are 'Utthama Puthran 1940', 'Aryamala' (1941), 'Kannagi' (1942), 'Manonmani' (1942), 'Kubera Kusela' (1943), 'Jagathalapradaban' (1944).

Sivaji Ganesan

Viluppuram Chinnaiahpillai Ganesan Mandrayar popularly known as Sivaji Ganesan was a Indian stage and film actor who was considered to be among the first and finest method actors in India. His fame came from his versatility and expressive prowess in Tamil cinema. He was the first Indian actor to be made a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Sivaji Ganesan has remained as the most popular Tamil actor with the most of number of fans. This fact has been confirmed by many independent surveys conducted.

MG Ramachandran

Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran popularly known by his initials MGR (Tamil: ???.??.???), was an Indian film actor, producer and politician. Well known as a Tamil activist, he served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from 1977 until his death in 1987.

Gemini Ganesan

Gemini Ganesan was an Indian actor. He was nicknamed "Kadhal Mannan" (King of Romance) of Tamil cinema for the romantic roles he played in movies.

Fondly known as Kadhal Mannan (King of Romance) among his fans, Ganesan had acted in several box-office hits during his heyday (1950s–1970s). He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1971. Gemini Ganesan's performances on the screen were enhanced by some talented playback singers like A.M. Rajah and P.B. Srinivos. P.B. Srinivos's mellifluous voice in particular complemented Gemini Ganesan. Many memorable duets of P.B.Srinivos with female playback singer S.Janaki are popular even today. The song "Kalangalil aval vasantham" will always be remembered and associated with Gemini Ganesan.

He had paired with many top heroines such as Savitri whom he later married, Anjalidevi, Banumathi, Padmini, Saroja Devi, Vaijayanthimala, "Sowcar" Janaki, KR Vijaya, Devika, and Jayalalitha.

Later in his career, he switched to little different character roles. Notable among these was RudraveenaUnnal Mudiyum Thambi), considered one of the best movies ever made in Telugu. Another notable movie was Avvai Shanmughi (1996), in which characteristically, he entered into the skin of an old man longing for an old maid.

R. Muthuraman

Thikku Theriyatha Kattil 1972 Tamil Movie Watch Online

R. Muthuraman was an Indian actor who has performed in Tamil language films. He was a leading actor during the 60's and 70's and was fondly called Navarasa Thilakam. He has paired with all the leading heroines of his time and acted in over a hundred films. Muthuraman's son Karthik is also a Tamil actor and politician. He died while shooting for a film on a cliff.

Muthuraman came to act in an era dominated by giants such as M.G.R, Sivaji, Gemini Ganesan- however through the 1960s he had a great number of supporting roles in a number of Tamil movies. He also starred in many movies like Kalyana Parisu (1964), Kathalikka Neramillai(1965), Kasethan Kadavulada (1970) etc. He acted in over 90 films and was paired opposite actress Kanchana for 19 of them- a record.

SS Rajendran

SS Rajendran (known popularly as SSR) was initially a theater artist like Shivaji who starred in many plays for Dravidar Kazhagam. Like Sivaji, he debuted in Parasakthi. Being one of the most popular stars of Tamil cinema in the 1950s and 60s, he raised funds for DMK and acted in movies glorifying Dravidian ideologies.SSR was the first elected member of lagislative assembly among actors in India in 1962.Personal problems led to a fall in his film career and in politics. Having spent most of his earnings for the party he found himself in a deep financial crisis.


Sivakumar on 27 October 1942 is an Tamil cinema film actor who has portrayed a wide array of character roles onscreen.

Sivakumar was introduced in the movie called Kaakum karangal.

He has starred in the role of leading man and character artist in many Tamil movies such as Kandan Karunai, Thunivae Thozhan and Uyarndha Manidhan. He received a life-time-achievement award for his contribution to the field of Cinema and in particular Tamil moviedom at the 55th annual Filmfare awards.


Rajnikanth born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad is an Indian film actor, producer, and media personality. He made his debut as an actor in Apoorva Raagangal (1975), a Tamil film directed by K. Balachander, whom the actor considers as his mentor. He then worked in Tamil cinema often portraying antagonistic characters and gradually rose to acting in lead roles. Other than acting and producing, Rajinikanth also worked as a screenwriter, and playback singer. Apart from his film career, he is a philanthropist, spiritualist, and serves as an influence in the politics of Tamil Nadu.

Rajinikanth is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, for his contribution to Indian cinema. He became known as the "superstar" of Tamil cinema and successfully held a matinee idol status among the mass media and popular culture of India. His "mass popularity and appeal is largely drawn from his mannerisms and stylized delivery of dialogue in films." He was named as one of the most influential persons in South Asia by Asiaweek.

While acting in many Indian languages, he also appeared in films of other nations, including in those of the United States. After being paid a salary of 26 crores (US$5.9 million) for his role in Sivaji (2007), he became the highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan.

Kamal Hassan

Kamal Hassan is an Indian film actor, screenwriter, and filmmaker, considered to be one of the leading method actors of Indian cinema.Hassan has won several Indian film awards, including four National Film Awards and numerous Southern Filmfare Awards, and he is known for having starred in the most number of films submitted by India in contest for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In addition to acting and directing, he is a screenwriter, songwriter, playback singer, and choreographer. His film production company, Raj kamal International, has produced several of his films.

After several projects as a child artist, Kamal Hassan's breakthrough into lead acting came with his role in the 1975 drama Apoorva Raagangal, in which he played a rebellious youth in love with an older woman. He secured his first Indian National Film Award for his portrayal of a guileless school teacher who tends a child-like amnesiac in 1982's Moondram Pirai. He was particularly noted for his performance in Mani Ratnam's Godfathere sque Tamil film Nayagan (1987), which was ranked by Time magazine as one of the best films of all time.Since then he has gone on to appear in other notable films such as his own productions, Hey Ram and Virumaandi, as well as the magnum opus Dasavathaaram, in which he appeared in ten distinct roles.


Vijayaraj professionally known by his stage name Vijayakanth is a Tamil film actor and politician in Tamil Nadu, India. He is the founder of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam and a Member of Legislative Assembly representing Virudhachalam, Tamil Nadu, India.

Vijayakanth has starred in noteworthy films including Amman Koil Kizhakkaley, Vaidegi Kathirundal, Chinna Gounder, Vanathai Pola, Sethupathi IPS, Captain Prabhakaran, Pulanvisaaranai, Ulavu Thurai, Periyanna, Vallarasu',Ramana, Neranja Manasu, and Sathriyan.

"Inikkum Ilamai" was his first film and it was directed by M.A.Kaja. After this, he acted in "Thooraththu Idi Muzhakkam", "Neerottam" and "Agal Vilakku". He is nicknamed 'Captain', as he has starred in a popular movie called "Captain Prabhakharan". "Captain Prabhakharan" was a Blockbuster of the year 1992 & Vijayakanth's 100th film.

He formed the center-left winged Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), a regional political party in Tamil Nadu. He formally announced party formation on 14 September 2005 at Madurai. His party contested in all seats in 2006 assembly elections and won one seat contested by him.


Sarathkumar Ramanathan is an Indian Journalist, film actor, politician, body builder and the current president of the South Indian Film Artistes' Association. He started his career in Tamil cinema playing negative roles, and later played minor roles in other movies. He was first chosen for the lead role in Suriyan, which was a success at the box office. He has frequently played the role of an honest cop. He also began a new political party in Tamil Nadu to carry out the ideals of K. Kamaraj.

He served as a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member of parliament in the Rajya Sabha. He also serves as the current president of the South Indian Film Artistes' Association, organizing several industry-based events. Before his entry into films, he began a career as a journalist. He recently continued journalism after starting his own magazine.

Sarathkumar has acted in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. He has received critical acclaim for his roles in the films Cheran Pandian, Pulan Visaranai, Sooriyan, Nattamai, Suryavamsam, Natpukkaga Pazhassi Raja.

Arjun Sarja

Arjun Sarja is a Tamilfilm actor and director. He has acted in several Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, HindiTelugu films. He is the son of Shakti Prasad, a former Kannada film star. The title "Action King" has been given to Arjun by fans, for the numerous roles he has portrayed in action films.He is also a black belt holder in karate.

Arjun started his first venture as a film actor in Karnataka with director Rajender Singh Babu. He then moved to Tamil and Telugu and concentrated there. His first Tamil film was Nanri. His popular movies in Tamil include Gentleman, Jai Hind, Kurudhipunal, Mudhalvan, Ezhumalai ,Giri and Marudhamalai. In Telugu, he is known for his role in Maa Pallelo Gopaludu. Arjun has also directed and produced some films. Arjun has won the Filmfare Best Actor Award South and Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor in the film Gentleman.


Sathyaraj is a Tamil film actor and media personality in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. A Tamil activist and political influence, he has acted in over 100 films, ranging from action and drama to comedy. In 2007, he played the award-winning role of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy in the Tamil Nadu government-sponsored film Periyar. As of 2007, he has produced one film, which was Lee, starring his son Sibiraj. He has also directed a movie Villadhi Villain acted by himself in three different roles which also starred actress Nagma. After earning good fortunes through films, he became an atheist.

Sathyaraj's first film was Kodugal Illaatha Kolangal. Then he worked as production manager for the film Kannan Oru Kaikkuzhanthai. In addition to his managerial role, he also had a small acting part in the film. On the title credits of this film, his name was shown on screen with the description: "Aluvalaga Nirvaagam (Official Management): S.N. Rangaraj, B.Sc." and later still in the credits as "Sathyaraj" for his minor acting role.

Director Santhana Bharathi says that he was the person who introduced Sathyaraj as a hero in the film Kadamai Kanniyam Kattuppadu. It was a film produced by the veteran actor Kamal Hassan. Kamal Haasan had faith in Sathyaraj which made him to introduce him as a hero for his home production.

He is a strong follower of Thanthai Periyar E. V. Ramasamy. He frequently expresses his views about the god in his movies. Due to this motivation, he also acted in the movie called Periyar in a leading role as E.V.R.

Prabhu Ganesan

Prabhu Ganesan is a Tamil film actor and film producer. He is the son of legendary Tamil thespian Sivaji Ganesan.

A native of Tamil Nadu, he is the son of Sivaji and Kamala Ganesan. He has an elder brother Ramkumar Ganesan who is a film producer and two sisters, Shanthi and Thenmozhi.

Prabhu Ganesan has appeared in over 150 films. After his debut in the film Sangili in 1982, he made several films. Apart from taking the lead role, he has acted in several types of roles, including comedian roles and antagonistic roles. Ganesan frequently appeared alongside tamil actors Rajinikanth, Kamal Hassan, and his father, Sivaji Ganesan during this time period.

He received a Best Actor Award in 1991. He appeared in Suyamvaram. He appeared alongside Rajinikanth in Guru Shishyan and in Chandramukhi in 2005 and in Vetri Vizha and Vasool Raja MBBSKamal Haasan.He also acted with megastar mammootty and malayalam actor mohanlal.

He starred as a cop operating in Malaysia in Billa in 2007. He recently acted in Kuselan, SilambattamAyan in supporting roles. He recently acted in several projects, namely Mani Ratnam's Raavana, Maanja Velu and and Asal.

Karthik Muthuraman

Muthuraman Murali Karthikeyan better known by his screen name Karthik Muthuraman is a Tamil actor, son of veteran actor R. Muthuraman, and has acted in more than 100 films. He was first introduced by Bharathiraja in the film Alaigal Oivathillai. He has acted in Tamil films.

Karthik was first introduced by Bharathiraja in the film Alaigal Oivathillai. He has received the Best New Face Award from the Tamil Nadu Government in 1980.

He has received the best actor for three consecutive times by Tamil Nadu government. He is popular with the audience for sense of humor and was involved with several small comedy scenes in most of his movies. His cameo in Mouna Ragam was very well received by the audience. During his later years, he formed a partnership with Goundamani in doing comedy scenes.His pairing with Rambha was a hit with audience as the pair provided good hits in the nineties.

He is currently making a comeback into Tamil cinema with movies like Raavana and Maanja Velu. and (pulivesham )Karthik's completed films, Garvam, Kashmir and Manathil are yet to release.


Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar known as Vijay in the popular media, is a Tamil film actor. He is the son of film producer and director SA Chandrasekhar. After performing uncredited roles as a child actor in films produced by his father, he made his film debut as a lead role actor in the 1992 film Naalaya Theerpu.

Since then, he acted in several films of action and romance genres. He has also worked as a playback singer in most of his films, as well as a few films starring other actors. During his career in the Tamil film industry, he has won three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and was nominated for one Filmfare Award.

Ajith Kumar

Ajith Kumar is an Indian Tamil film actor. He began his career as a supporting actor in a Telugu film before gaining critical recognition in the Tamil thriller movie Aasai (1995). A succession of high-grossing films followed where Kumar was usually depicted as a romantic hero, with Kadhal Kottai (1996) and Kadhal Mannan (1998) being the most notable. He later forayed into method acting, as seen in Vaali (1999), Mugavari (2000), Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000) and Citizen (2001) before establishing himself as an action hero with popular films including Amarkalam (1999), Dheena (2001), Villain (2002), Varalaru (2006) and Billa (2007).


John Kennedy Vinod Raj, better known by his stage name Vikram, is a Indian film actor, voice actor, and playback singer. He made his debut in the 1990 film En Kadhal Kanmani, which was followed by a series of low-budget Tamil, Telugu films and supporting roles in some high budget Malayalam films throughout the early decade. After the critical and commercial success of Sethu (1999) he has been part of numerous other commercially successful films and has earned major critical acclaim for many of his performances. During his years in the Indian film industry, he has won three Filmfare Awards, as well as securing India's most prestigious film award, the National Film Award for Best Actor.


Saravanan "Surya" Sivakumar is an Indian film actor. He starred in Tamil films, such as Nandha (2001), Kaakha Kaakha (2003), Pithamagan (2004), Perazhagan (2005), GhajiniVel (2006), Vaaranam Aayiram (2008), Ayan (2009) ) and made debut in bollywood as a actor in the film named Rakht Charitra directed by Ram Gopal Varma . As of 2009,he has won three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and three Filmfare Awards. (2005).


R. Madhavan

R. Madhavan is an Indian actor who has appeared in Indian films in seven languages, predominantly Tamil and Hindi films. Unlike other prominent actors in India, Madhavan began to appear in films after marriage, at the age of twenty-nine, and his career has seen performances in diverse roles. He has received several Filmfare Awards in various categories.


Prabhu Kasthuri Raja, professionally known as Dhanush, is a Tamil film actor and playback singer in Chennai, India. His filmography includes the critically acclaimed films Thulluvadho Ilamai, Kadhal Kondein and Pudhupettai. His commercially successful films include Thiruda Thirudi, Thiruvilayadal Arambam, Polladhavan, Yaaradi Nee Mohini, Padikathavan and Kutty. He is the son of film director Kasthuri Raja.

Silambarasan Rajendar

Silambarasan Thesingu Rajendar, credited as TR Silambarasan, Simbhu, or STR, is a Tamil film actor who has also worked as a director, playback singersongwriter. He began his acting career doing many minor uncredited roles as a child artist in films produced by his father T. Rajendar. He made his debut under his father's direction in 2002 and has since acted in several films in lead roles. His successful films include Dum, Kovil, Manmadhan, Vallavan, Silambattam, Poda Podi, Vaanam and Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa.

Silambarasan acted on Tamil nearly 19 films as a child artist in his father T. Rajendar's films. A few of them are Thai Thangai Paasam, Oru Vasantha Geetham, En Thangai Kalyani, Enga Veetu Velan, Monisha En Monalisa, Oru Thayin Sabhatham, Samsara Sangeetham, Shanti Enathu Shanti, Pettredutha Pillai, and Sabash Babu. His debut in movies as a hero came in the form of Kadhal Azhivathillai, a Tamil language movie. After his second film Dum, Kuthu was released. It was his first movie which was a hit and that gave him an entry into the Kollywood film industry, which also ran for 100 days.

Jayam Ravi

Ravi Mohan known professionally as Jayam Ravi is an Indian Tamil film actor. Ravi is best known for his appearances in Jayam, M. Kumaran Son Of Mahalakshmi, Something Something ... Unnakum Ennakum, Santhosh Subramaniam and Thillalangadi, all of which are movies that have been directed by his brother, 'Jayam' Raja. The brothers' five joint ventures have been very successful.

He is a martial arts expert and a trained bharatanatyam dancer. He also learned martial arts for the character in his second film, M. Kumaran Son Of Mahalakshmi. Prior to acting, Ravi had been an assistant director to Suresh Krishna in the 2001 film Aalavandhan.

Ravi Mohan made his acting debut in the 2003 Tamil film Jayam, produced by his father and directed by his brother M. Raja. The film, a remake of the 2002 Telugu blockbuster of the same name, became highly successful at the box office, running up to 200 days. Thanks to the enormous success of the film, the prefix "Jayam" was given to his name Ravi.


Jamshad Cethirakath better known by his stage name Arya, is an Indian actor, who mainly appears in Tamil films. He is best known for his lead performances in the films Arinthum Ariyamalum (2005), Pattiyal (2006), Naan Kadavul (2009), Madrasapattinam (2010) and Boss Engira Bhaskaran (2010).

Arya initially worked as a computer engineer, however, his passion for filming brought him to modelling before debuting in Jeeva's Ullam Ketkumae, which also marked the debut of and Pooja Umashankar. The film also starred Asin. Laila and Shaam, but the film was delayed only releasing after Arinthum Ariyamalum. In Arinthum Ariyamalum, Arya played as son to Prakash Raj in a critically acclaimed role which won him Filmfare Best Debut Award South and Best New Male Face Award at the Filmfare Awards. Arinthum Ariyamalum and Ullam Ketkumae both made it large at the box-office.also acted in telugu film 'Varudu' in a negative role.


Amar B Choudary better known by his stage name Jiiva (also spelled Jeeva) is an Indian film actor, who has predominantly appeared in Tamil-language films. Son of film producer R. B. Choudhary, he started his career as a child actor in his father's films in 1996. His professional career began seven years later with the film Aasai Aasaiyai. He has performed in the films Raam, for which he won the Best Actor Award at the Cyprus International Film Festival. He was critically acclaimed for his performances in movies such as E and Kattradhu Thamizh. He was a judge on STAR Vijay's reality dance competition Jodi Number One in its third season with Sangeetha and Aishwarya Rajinikanth.

Jiiva started his career as a child actor in two of his father's productions. His debut film as a lead was Aasai Aasaiyai. The films Thittikudhey and Raam followed. Raam was screened at Indian Panorama and later at the Cyprus International Film Festival, where it won two awards: the Best Actor award for Jiiva and the Best Musical Score Award for its music director, Yuvan Shankar Raja.

Later, Jiiva appeared in Aran where he played an Indian army soldier. He made his debut in Malayalam cinema with Keerthi Chakra, the original version of Aran. In 2006 he starred in E and in 2007 Kattradhu Thamizh.

His latest releases are Thenavattu and Siva Manasula Sakthi. The former is an action film and the latter is a romantic film.


Bharath is an Indian actor, who has predominantly appeared in Tamil films. He is probably best known for his critically acclaimed performances in Kaadhal, Pattiyal, Veyil and Kanden Kadhalai.

He made his acting debut in the 2003 Tamil film Boys directed by S. Shankar. The film was a musical hit and fared well in box-office. He then acted in the Malayalam film 4 The People, which was a musical hit as well and became a blockbuster in Kerala. Thanks to its success, the film was subsequently dubbed into Tamil (as 4 Students) and Telugu (as Yuvasena). His first solo lead role happened in the 2004 film Kaadhal directed by Balaji Sakthivel and produced by Shankar. The drama film received critical acclaim and became the blockbuster of the year. Also his performance as the naive but sweet lover was highly praised. His 2006 film Pattiyal, brought him even more great recognition for playing a dumb and deaf lover. Later that year, he starred in the films Em Magan, Chennai Kadhal and Veyil. He has received great accolades for Veyyil and the film was declared as a hit. The film was even selected for screening at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

Vishal Krishna

Vishal Krishna Reddy mononymously known as Vishal, is an Indian film actor, who has acted in a number of Tamil films in the lead role.

He was born to GK. Reddy, a Tamil film producer in Andhra Pradesh. He has one brother, Vikram Krishna Reddy, who was formerly an actor under the name Ajay and later turned producer. Former VJ-cum-actress Sriya Reddy is Vikram's wife and Vishal's sister-in-law, opposite whom he acted in Thimiru.

Vishal's strong passion for direction got him an apprenticeship with Ram Gopal Varma, just after he completed Visual Communication at Loyola College. But for his parent's desire to have him closer to home, he refused the offer and instead joined actor-director Arjun Sarja as an assistant.

He then was approached by GJ. Films Corporation who offered to cast him as the protagonist in their venture Chellamae. Accepting which Vishal made his acting debut in the Gandhi Krishna-directed romantic thriller film, alongside Reema Sen and Bharath, which went on to become a commercial success.

He followed it up with the action flicks, Sandakozhi and Thimiru, by N. Linguswamy and Tarun Gopi, respectively, which both were successful, too. His next film, Sivappathigaram was an average grosser while his fifth film Thaamirabharani with director Hari, releasing during Pongal 2007, achieved box-office success. His next film Malaikottai was also a hit. His following two releases, however, Sathyam and Thoranai, his only releases in 2008 and 2009, respectively, failed to do well at the box office.

Karthi Sivakumar

Karthik Sivakumar popularly known by his stage name Karthi, is a Tamil film actor. Son of actor Sivakumar and younger brother of Surya Sivakumar, he made his acting debut in 2007 with the top-grossing film Paruthiveeran, receiving critical acclaim and the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for his performance as the titular character. He went on to appear in commercially successful ventures Aayirathil Oruvan, Paiyaa and Naan Mahaan Alla, establishing himself in the Tamil film industry.

He did a couple of basic courses in filmmaking and returned home to join the film industry.

In India, he got to meet director Mani Ratnam, who initially offered him the role of Arjun (later played by Siddharth) in the film Aayutha Ezhuthu. But Karthi instead joined him as an assistant director for the same film and its Hindi version Yuva, since he always wanted to become a film director and preferred direction to acting. However, he continued to receive several acting offers. When Ameer Sultan Paruthiveeran, Karthi eventually accepted the offer as the film was "so compelling".

The film was critically and commercially very successful, whilst his portrayal as a careless village rowdy was immensely appreciated by critics and earned him several awards, including the Fimfare Best Tamil Actor Award.

Later he did films like Ayirathil Oruvan under Selvaraghavan and Payya under Lingusamy and Naan Mahan Alla under Suseenthiran.

Superstar Rajinikanth latest news

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Vidya Balan finally in South films?

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Ajith joins the elite club!

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Trisha: Samantha is ‘Mini Me’

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Surya’s Mass releasing on Ajith’s birthday

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Manorama Aachi is hail and healthy!

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Maari official teaser – Dhanush, Kajal Agarwal, Anirudh, Balaji Mohan

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The best actors of Tamil Cinema

There was a time when Tamil Cinema used to be the poor cousin of a condescending Bollywood. Gone are those years. Kollywood is now the synonym of Experimental Cinema, and is scaling new heights with every new release.

New Generation Tamil actors have not only stood up to their home-made icons but have also been watched closely by film buffs across the country and beyond.

Here are best 10 Tamil Cinema actors, who punctuated this decade with some brilliant performances.

Kamal Hassan [ 2000 - 2001 ]

Y2K was a year of resurgence for Tamil cinema, with some of the industry's all-time benchmark movies - Mani Ratnam's 'Alaipayuthey' and Rajiv Menon's 'Kandukondein Kandukondein' - hitting the screens.

But one laugh riot was all it took to make Tamil movie lovers across the world laugh on their stomach and send box office records smashing.

That the film, 'Thenali', wasn't even an original didn't matter; it starred Kamal Hassan, the way people like to see him - as the endearing next-door friend. And what made 2000 Kamal's year was his 'Hey Ram', a movie that came ahead of its times.

Kamal Hassan will go on to don ten roles in a single movie ('Dasavatharam'), a 'responsible terrorist' ('Unnaipol Oruvan'), the loveable goon ('Vasool Raja MBBS') and a wise-cracking social activist ('Anbe Sivam'), among others. Here's one powerhouse of an actor, who defies traditions, laughs at the norms and walks the trail that he believes in - unflinching and winning admiration all the way.

Madhavan [ 2001 - 2002 ]

Vijay's 'Badri' and 'Friends' made us laugh and cry; 'Citizen' had us marveled at a chameleon-like Ajith; Vikram thrilled us with 'Dhil' and endeared himself with 'Kasi'... but talk about trend-setters... and 2001 belonged squarely to Madhavan.

The chocolate-hero of 'Alaipayuthey' would go on to thrill us in 'Run', before hitting it big in Bollywood, very soon. Today, as one of the 3 Idiots taking India by storm, Madhavan did an endearing lover-boy act in 'Minnale' (2001), Gautham Menon's super hit debut movie.

Madhavan is still a bit of a dapper, urbane hero; he will be lost in rustic roles but in many ways, this man stands for the Generation Y Tamil Youth: smart, witty, intelligent, sophisticated, and raring to go...

Ajith [ 2002 - 2003 ]

Ajith has, along with Vijay, successfully presided over the transition of power from the Rajni-Kamal duo to the new breed of Kollywood actors. Ajith's penchant for prosthetic experimentation has often ended up in his being crowned as the on-screen successor to Kamal Hassan.

Ajith had made audiences sit up and take notice in 2001. In 2002 his dual act in 'Villain' endeared him to critics too. The film was a landmark in his chequered career of ups and downs.

Later, in 2007, the stylishly made 'Billa' reinstated Ajith's position as one of the most loved Kollywood actors to date. Whatever be the B.O. fate of his movies, there is no doubt that Ajith is perhaps the most inimitable actor in Tamil. His identity somehow seems untouched and hard to replicate.

Dhanush [ 2003 - 2004 ]

Before we get those blasphemous looks for the choice of Dhanush, let us look at his competitors: Siddharth et at in 'Boys', Vikram in 'Dhool' and 'Sami', Simbu in 'Dum', Ravi in 'Jayam' and Surya in 'Kakka Kakka'.

For all practical purposes, however, the trend-setter in 2003 was Dhanush with that hungry, lean, lovelorn look in 'Kadhal Kondein'. Who would have imagined that the bespectacled Dhanush would go on to beat hundreds of goons, not to the dismay but applause of viewers?

In less than seven years, Dhanush became a contender for the top slot -with nothing to his credit other than an almost animal passion for acting. Splinter-like, unconventional, unbelievably common-looking, Dhanush proved that he can beat the dashing hunks by being himself.

Vijay [ 2004 - 2005 ]

It was a proud year for Tamil cinema, no doubt. Kamal Hassan's 'Virumandi' and 'Vasool Raja' contended with Mani Ratnam's 'Ayudha Ezhuthu', '7 Rainbow Nagar Colony', 'M Kumaran' and 'Kovil'.

But it was a triumphant 'Ghilli' - that too a remake - that made Tamil youth queue up at the turnstiles and cheer through the three hours of undiluted action, music, romance and dance fare. 'Ghilli' was made for Vijay; 'Ghilli' was made for Tamil Pop Cinema.

Utterly unpretentious, it also defined why Vijay is loved by his fans - this unassuming man knows how to entertain you. He must be losing a bit of that magic touch lately, but writing off Vijay will be suicidal. This man can spring a surprise. 'Ghilli' is proof. And boy, doesn't he dance like magic!

Vikram [ 2005 - 2006 ]

Is there any other movie (other than those of Rajnikanth and, to a lesser extent, Kamal Hassan) that has taken Tamil Nadu by storm than 'Anniyan'? Director Shankar hit bull's eye, with this tale of 'dual personality.' Harris Jayaraj's music was chart busting and it positioned Vikram on the top of the league.

It wasn't an easy march by any means. Year 2005 will be remembered for movies such as Rajnikanth's hugely popular 'Chandramukhi', Surya's super-duper hit 'Ghajini' and the much talked about 'Kana Kandein', by K. V. Anand (note this name; you will read of him again in 2009).

Vikram is comfortable in typical toughie roles - that has been his image-trap. But he reached the top league with mind-blowing performances in 'Sethu' and 'Pithamagan'. He would go on to recreate the super-hero act later again in films such as 'Kanthaswamy' but 'Anniyan' will be remembered as the pinnacle of his career - at least for now.

Bharth/ Simbu [ 2006 - 2007 ]

The year, that should otherwise be remembered for 'Vettayadu Vilayadu' and 'Chithiram Pesuthedi', had two names towering high in the industry: Bharath, the boy who transitioned with ease to hero material from among his peers in 'Boys'; and Silambarasan alias Simbu, who made headlines with his 'Vallavan' antics.

Bharath brought a new dimension to youth acts with his dumb-and-deaf performance in 'Pattiyal' and did the family hero stuff in the memorable 'Emtan Magan'. And then there was 'Veyil', where he offered the perfect foil to an intense Pasupathy. Simbu was basking in the glory of the 'Thotti Jaya 'success the previous year, and went the full nine yards as actor-writer-director with 'Vallavan'.

Both youngsters made a mark. While Bharath experiments, Simbu repeats himself. While Bharath goes against the wind, Simbu sticks to formula. Yet, on final count, both have legions of fans, ready to die and kill for!

Rajnikanth [ 2007 - 2008 ]

Success. The other name is Rajnikanth. The SUPERSTAR ruled the south Indian silver screen in 2007, with director Shankar's 'Sivaji: The BOSS'.

With 'Sivaji: The BOSS', Rajnikanth let loose a mania of sorts that is often associated with his movies but in a scale unmatched.

'Sivaji: The BOSS' hit like a tornado but that did not make films such as 'Paruthiveeran', 'Billa' or 'Mozhi' irrelevant.

Rajnikanth has become selective; but for his stretched guest role in 'Kuselan', he has been focusing on 'Endhiran: The Robot', and if expectations are anything to go by, this Shankar film is poised to figure in the list of all-time hits in the new decade.

Sasikumar [ 2008 - 2009 ]

Another unlikely choice in the year of 'Dasavatharam', 'Varnam Aayiram', 'Kuselan' and 'Kuruvi' - yes, Sasikumar, with 'Subrahmaniyapuram', stands tall for bringing a whiff of fresh air to Tamil cinema and continuing to believe that good cinema need not be lavishly budgeted or star-powered. All it needs is a heart in the right place.

In a way, Sasikumar is the perfect anti-thesis of whatever Tamil popular cinema had preached for years. He definitely does not position himself as a star; he is an actor, he is a director and most importantly he is a facilitator of talent. He has enabled the genesis of a new wave of Tamil cinema, where the story is star and treatment is the he


Sasikumar has repeated his magic touch in 'Nadodigal' and his fans cannot but wait for his next venture. Will he be able to repeat his winning streak? Or will he give way to the perils of illusionary stardom? Time will tell. But for now, this man is about promise - the promise for better cinema.

Surya [ 2009 - 2010 ]

If there is one man, who has steadily and silently climbed up the ranks of stardom and positioned himself there with consistent successes in the past few years, it is Surya.

Few expected the star-son to make as powerful an impact as he has achieved over the years with hits such as 'Ghajini', 'Kakha Kaakha', 'Pithamagan' and 'Ayutha Ezhuthu'.

And when the decade came to a close, it was once again Surya in full form with 'Ayan', directed by cinematographer-director K V Anand. Spanning Congo to Chennai, the film was an unpretentious potboiler - oh yes, you could laugh at the implausibilities too - but how could you do that when Surya was the hero? He breezed through the movie and with it clinched one of his biggest hits.

The next decade will be a testing time for the likes of Surya, Vikram, Ajith and Vijay. Will they be able to retain their superstardom, or will they flounder under the weight of new stars? Interesting days ahead, indeed, for Tamil cinema.