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Happy Birthday Nayanthara: How the girl-next-door became the lady superstar

Happy Birthday Nayanthara: The Aramm actor turns 33 today, and here is a look at her journey in the film industry so far.

regional movies Updated: Nov 18, 2017 13:59 IST
Priyanka Sundar
Priyanka Sundar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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Happy birthday Nayanthara: From Ayya to Naanum Rowdy Thaan, till the Aramm, a look at the actor.

Nayanthara is enjoying the kind of success in the industry that rarely comes to female actors. While there are more films that are female-oriented, or targeted specifically at women, Nayanthara has gone ahead and proved that a woman-led movie can also perform wonders at the box office. Especially with her recent film Aramm, she has proved that content drives the audience to theatres even when ticket prices have increased. She did not always do such movies though.

She began like any other female actor, with a girl-next-door role. She debuted in Malayalam industry much before she did in Tamil. Her first onscreen appearance was in 2003 in the Malayalam film Manassinakkare, also starring Jayaram. Two years later, she debuted in Tamil opposite Sarathkumar in Ayya. She was then paired opposite superstar Rajinikanth in Chandramukhi and many were surprised as Nayan was then just one film old in the industry. She then did Ghajini in Tamil, where she played a small role.

Then came movies like Kalvanin Kadhali and Vallavan in 2006. She made headlines during the release of Vallavan for her alleged relationship with her co-star Simbu. She did the song-and-dance routine in a number of films, and appeared in cameos too. Then came her role in Ajith-starrer Billa in 2007. This was probably one of the roles that audience did not expect her to be seen in, and right after this, she chose, Yaaradi Nee Mohini in 2008. Her choices back then meandered between hot and sexy and girl-next-door to the point that an audience fatigue also set in.

In 2011, she portrayed the role of Sita, in the film Sri Rama Rajyam. She was yet again mired in controversy for her alleged relationship with choreographer-director Prabhudeva. A lot about her personal life made splashy headlines in the tabloids, while she filmed for the Telugu film. It was probably during this time that the heroine transformed into an actor. For two years, she was seen in just a handful of movies and the trade believed it to be the end of Nayanthara. She was supposed to fade away, but the lady refused to allow that.

Her role in Atlee’s debut directorial, Raja Rani was the beginning of the change. It was considered by many as her comeback in Tamil cinema. Her character in the film was not the usual ‘heroine’ role, but something more relatable. She began making unexpected choices, including signing movies with debut directors. She went with good scripts and hardworking crew, which worked in her favour. She still worked alongside the big stars, but she also made sure that people noticed her for her acting chops.

In 2015, she was part of four outstanding movies - Bhaskar The Rascal in Malayalam, in which she played the role of a single mother opposite Mammootty; Maaya, Thani Oruvan and Naanum Rowdy Thaan in Tamil. Maaya changed the way producers perceived movies with female protagonists. More producers came forwards to bankroll small budget films with female protagonists.

In 2017, we saw her in Dora and Aramm. Aramm has blown away the critics and audiences alike for the way the director and Nayan dealt with the film. Other than this, she will also be seen in Velaikkaran, which is a commercial entertainer starring Siva Karthikeyan. From switching between hot and racy roles to the girl-next-door ones, Nayan has come a long way over the decade. She has a fan base unlike her contemporaries, and she now has the luxury to dictate terms of the movies that she works in.

Not all her projects are successful or pathbreaking, but the way she balances between mindblowing roles and the entertaining ones is noteworthy. Her upcoming projects are equally interesting as she has Imaikka Nodigal, Kolaiyuthir Kaalam in Tamil and Love, Action, Drama in Malayalam. Of course, mixed in with these are movies like Jai Simhaa in Telugu, that the actor has chosen to be a part of.

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First Published: Nov 18, 2017 13:53 IST