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Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar (born 22 June 1974), known professionally as Vijay, is an Indian actor and singer who works predominantly in Tamil cinema. He is among the highest paid actors in India and has featured in Forbes India‘s Celebrity 100 list since 2012. He has played the lead in 66 films and the International Business Times framed him as a “consistent performer”. Referred to as Thalapathy (transl. Commander), Vijay has a significant following internationally.He has won several awards, including a South Indian International Movie Award.

Vijay was born as Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar on 22 June 1974 in Madras (now Chennai), Tamil Nadu. His father S. A. Chandrasekhar is a Tamil film directorand his mother Shoba Chandrasekhar is a playback singer and carnatic vocalist. His father is of Christian Vellalar descent and his mother is Hindu.Vijay was baptised at the age of 12. Vijay had a sister, Vidhya, who died when she was just two years old.

Initially attending Fathima Matriculation Higher Secondary School at Kodambakkam, Vijay later joined the Balalok Matriculation Higher Secondary School at Virugambakkam and went on to pursue a degree in Visual Communications from Loyola College. While studying, at the age of 18, he asked his father if “he would launch him”.

1984–2003: Child actor and transition into lead roles

Vijay in 1987

At the age of 10, Vijay started his film career as a child actor in Vetri (1984), making his first paycheck of ₹500 rupees paid for by actor-and-producer P. S. Veerappa. He then performed as a child actor in films such as Kudumbam (1984), Vasantha Raagam (1986), Sattam Oru Vilayaattu (1987) and Ithu Engal Neethi (1988). He also performed in Naan Sigappu Manithan (1985) as a co-star to Rajinikanth, who was the lead actor.

Vijay started to play lead roles at the age of 18 starting with Naalaiya Theerpu (1992). Vijay then appeared in the films SendhoorapandiRasiganDeva and Coimbatore Mappillai. They were commercially successful, though not critically acclaimed.

2003–2011: Star status in Tamil cinema

Following the action-romance flick Thirumalai in 2003, Ghilli, a film directed by S. Dharani and produced by A. M. Rathnam, was released. It co-starred Trisha and Prakash Raj with Vijay as the lead.Ghilli was the first Tamil film of all time to gross over ₹500 million, or ₹50 crore, in the domestic box office. The film grossed nearly $500,000 in the Malaysian market. Ghilli also broke the record for the most people seeing a movie in the first week of its release, previously held by M. G. Ramachandran’s Adimai Penn (1969).Ghilli received favourable reviews. The Hindu stated that “Vijay, the hero whom the masses today identify with, and Prakash Raj, the inimitable villain in tow, this flick, “Ghilli”…on a winning track”.

Vijay at a function in 2007

Ghilli was followed by commercially successful films Madhurey and Thirupaachi in 2005. Later, Vijay starred in the commercially and critically successful films SacheinSivakasi and Pokkiri.Pokkiri was one of the highest-grossing films in his career at that time.

In late 2007, Vijay starred in the romantic thriller film Azhagiya Tamil Magan, where he played the role of the protagonist and antagonist at the same time. Azhagiya Tamil Magan collected $1.043 million overseas, a top grosser at overseas box offices in 2007.Screen Daily, a British magazine, reported that Azhagiya Tamil Magan had entered the top ten Asian films box office hit chart in Malaysia in 2007.Barring the commercially successful Vettaikaaran (2009), all of his subsequent releases from Azhagiya Tamil MaganKuruvi and Villu were average successes; all three films were more successful overseas. In 2009, Vijay became one of the highest paid actors in South India. In 2010, he acted in the action comedy film Sura, which was a box office failure. Sura was Vijay’s 50th film as a lead actor.

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