Karthi is regarded as one of the most promising upcoming heroes in the Tamil film industry, who with his credible performance in his debut film, Paruthiveeran (2007), proved that he is also a fine actor in the making.
He was born Karthik Sivakumar on 25th of May 1977 in Chennai, the second child of actor Sivakumar. He did his schooling from St. Bede's School, Chennai and then joined Crescent Engineering College, Chennai to do his undergrad before going to the USA to do his masters in Industrial Engineering at Binghampton University. His side work as a graphics designer in the States made Karthi decide he had to be part of a creative field and having seen the medium of filmmaking up front, thanks to father Sivakumar and elder brother and actor, Suriya, he decided cinema was it. He even did a short term course in New York to familiarise himself with the filmmaking process before returning to Chennai to assist Mani Rathnam, whom he assisted in Ayutha Ezhuthu (2004) and Yuva (2004). It is said Mani wanted him for the role of Arjun in Ayutha Ezuthu that was eventually played by Siddharth but he preferred to remain behind the camera. Incidentally, Suriya played a starring role in the film giving one of his best ever performances. By now Karthi was being flooded with offers to act and though he took his time, he finally agreed when Ameer Sultan approached him with the Paruthiveeran script. The rest as the cliche (always) goes is history.
Paruthiveeran is easily one of the best Tamil, in fact Indian, films in recent times along with Subramaniyapuram (2008) and like the latter, is a harsh, violent tale that possesses a rawness and authenticity that is at once both hard-hitting and captivating and stuns you into silence by the time it finishes its running time. The film is set in the dry, arid land of Madurai district in Tamil Nadu in South India dominated by the Thevar community, a warrior clan propelled by fierce caste fanaticism. Paruthiveeran sees Karthi play the half-caste thug Paruthiveeran who falls for his upper caste cousin, Muthalagu (Priyamani), and the film traces the tragic outcome of their romance. Though undoubtedly Priyamani is the life of the film thoroughly deserving the National Award she got for Best Actress, Karthi makes a promising enough debut in the film having his moments as well. True, there are moments where his rawness shows but it has to be said it is a far more confident beginning that is is light years ahead of Suriya's extremely awkward beginnings in Nerukku Ner (1997). We've all seen with experience, time and the right films, what a fine, seasoned performer Suriya has become so even with Karthi, he's just bound to get better and better. Paruthiveeran proved to be a huge success at the box-office and Karthi remarkably bagged, both, the Filmfare Awards for Best Male Debut in Tamil and the Best Actor in Tamil for the film.
It was almost three years since Paruthiveeran's release before audiences got to see more of Karthi. The next film he began work on was the Indiana Jones like adventure fantasy, Aayirathil Oruvan (2010). The film, a big budget spectacle directed by Selvaraghavan of 7G Rainbow Colony (2004) fame and co-starring Reema Sen and Andrea, got delayed due to much time spent on polishing up its special effects and released in Pongal 2010. Though Karthi is likeable enough in the film, the film is a misfire of epic proportions.
Unfortunately, Karthi's next release, Paiyaa (2010), co-starring the current heart throb of Tamil cinema, Tamannaah, too disappoints. A road film that doesn't quite take off as it should, Paiyaa sees him play the urban dude for the first time. But in spite of his easy, laid back style, one does find a hangover of his earlier roles in his performance. However, the film proved to be a big success at the box office as has his fourth release, Naan Mahaan Alla (2010), co-starring the most in demand heroine of Tollywood, Kajal Aggarwal of Magadheera fame.
2011 began well for Karthi. His Pongal release, Siruthai, a full on masala film has proved to be a huge success at the boxoffice. And on the personal front, on 3rd July 2011, he married Ranjani Chinnasamy, a post graduate in English literature. But then all his films following Siruthai have been major disasters both quality wise and box-office wise. He needs to bounce back and soon!