By the time director Bala took things in hand, the public and Surya himself were ready for a change.
The change came in the form of a rough guy with a solid heart (complete with altered hair-cut and contact lenses) which Surya played very convincinly in Nanda.
Nanda, a ferocious son who kills his father to save his mother from his evil clutches, ends up in jail. When he returns, he finds a mother who spurns him, a local bigwig who takes him under his wing and a beautiful Sri Lankan refugee, Laila, who falls for him.
With his stiff body language, unyielding gait and occasional glimpses of softness, Surya managed the done-to-death hero role with such elan that his growing legion of fans took him to his heart. The film won him the Tamil Nadu State Award for Best Actor.
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