Society

The other side of Suriya

Actor Suriya. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The versatile actor Suriya has another side to his personality. He is not just the celebrity Suriya that we know of. He is also a sensitive citizen and philanthropy resides in him. Through his Agaram Foundation he has been silently helping deserving students to rise above poverty and emerge successful.

“It is just an extension of what my father did through his Sivakumar Educational Trust for more than 35 years. I just expanded his vision,” he says of his work.

Returning after a hectic shooting schedule for ‘24’, macho icon Suriya's candid self-assessment off-screen bowls you over as much as his on screen performances do. “I see my social activities as a responsibility and not a service. I feel it is my duty to give back to society in whatever little way possible. Fortunately, I am blessed with more than what I deserve,” he says.

With proper mentoring and giving exposure through workshops in communication skills, teamwork, goal setting and leadership, he has lit the lives of many poor students aspiring to become big.

Agaram keeps him busy and there is no leisure time for him. “Few years ago, I met a school kid named Rajnikanth, a first generation student belonging to a gypsy community. He was a brilliant student and also excelled in sports and extra curricular activity. Impressed with his scores in Class X board exams, we presented him a cash award of Rs.8,000 from our foundation and he enquired if he could donate the money to the girl students in his class to help them get new skirts,” recalls Suriya. Living in abject penury, the boy was prepared to part with the sum meant for his well being and it turned out to be an eye opener for Suriya and the inspiration to start Agaram.

Though Agaram is his brainchild, he believes there are multiple other contributors who make it a success. He credits journalist Gnanavel, who suggested the name for the foundation and sacrificed his career to serve in it and the non governmental organisation Vazhai, a group of first generation graduates, who tirelessly guide first generation students like them. “We borrowed the concept from ‘ Vazhai’ and started ‘ Vidhai’ to help deserving students come up in life. Our main idea is to expose them to newer horizons and make them global students,” says Suriya.

A responsible son that he is, Suriya tries to emulate his father. “I learn a lot from him. I act for monetary gains. But my father burns the midnight oil to prepare for lectures on our epics, for the benefit of the society. He does not get in return. That is my cue. I am amazed to see work he does and we reap the benefits of his hard work,” he says.

Agaram with the help of volunteers train students and makes them market-ready. Suriya says he owes a lot to the core group of 400 members who lend their time to help the hapless kids shine in life. Now educational institutions seek our volunteers’ intervention to help their students face the corporate world,” he beams.

Many institutions offer free seats and hostel accommodation to students who come out of Agaram.

Last year, Suriya started ‘ Thai’ to identify special skills and talents in students who fail in the board exams. “There are several organisations to fund and help students who are bright in academics. So I started this venture for the weak students. Thai identifies their strengths and grooms them.”

If Agaram is creating wave, it is due to the commitment and sustained efforts of Suriya and the volunteers. “I have just lent my name. I am aware of my limitations and want to continue doing whatever little I can.”

For more details about Agaram, log on to www.agaram.in

On his upcoming film ‘24’…

'Suriya has teamed up with Yaavarum Nalam director Vikram Kumar for his next outing on the big screen, titled 24. The actor tweeted recently, “24..., last day of shoot… Another close-to-heart project, hope you all like it. Thanks to the entire cast n crew for all the hard work n fun!” The film, said to be in the sci-fi genre, has leading lady Samantha and music by A.R. Rahman

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 6:47:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/the-other-side-of-suriya/article7841604.ece

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