November 18, 2018 7:11:41 pm
Nayanthara’s metamorphosis from an actor into ‘lady Superstar’ is nothing short of a phenomenon. She prefers to stay away from the media glare. She isn’t on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She doesn’t give interviews to the press. She’s rarely seen at parties or gatherings, except for the odd appearances at award functions. Yet, she has a humongous fan base which extends beyond the borders of Tamil Nadu.
Why is Nayanthara a big deal? “I think I couldn’t remember the last time I saw a cut-out for a female actor in theaters. Also, her recent release Kolamaavu Kokila had early morning shows — a ritual allotted only for the A-list heroes. Maybe, these things make her what she is,” said Doss Ramasamy who directed her in Dora.
Nayanthara made her acting debut in 2003 with the Malayalam film Manassinakkare (Beyond the Mind). Then, she made her entry into Tamil cinema with the Sarathkumar starrer Ayya in 2005. The same year, she did Chandramukhi, where she was cast opposite Rajinikanth. The movie turned out to be a blockbuster.
Nayanthara wasn’t how she is now. She was chubby (if I could say) and her choice of films was not all that extraordinary. She had hits and misses. She was in a tough phase for some time where she kept battling personal problems. But her career graph began to soar high post-Raja Rani in 2013. She looked terrific on screen. She lost weight and the transformation was simply beautiful. From then on, it is amazing how she picked tailor-made scripts like Maya, Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, Dora, Aramm, Kolamaavu Kokila and Imaikka Nodigal. One can’t categorise these films as “women-centric” because they were successful at the box-office too. Filmmakers started writing stories for Nayanthara and the rest is history.
As of now, the actor has her hands full with Ajith’s much-awaited Viswasam, besides Aramm 2, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Kolayuthir Kaalam, an untitled project of Siva Manasula Sakthi fame Rajesh and Airaa (which will see her in a dual role for the first time).
Doss Ramasamy is all praise for her sincerity. “The amount of dedication she has in whatever she does is admirable, and she treats every film of hers as a debut project. She is someone who treats even the junior artistes and technicians with the utmost respect. She is friendly and understands others. In fact, when I was shooting for Dora, I have never seen her sit on a chair to see the monitor. She is always on her toes.”
Recalling an interesting incident on the sets, Doss told us, “The story of my film revolved around an Austin Cambridge. Initially, there were many hiccups with the car. But Nayanthara never threw tantrums and gave me a new call sheet. While we were shooting again, we had some issues with the car. So she prayed to God and tied a small cloth inside. Thankfully, after that, we continued the shoot without any hindrance.”
Rajesh, who has directed her in Boss Engira Bhaskaran, said, “Even after becoming the most-sought-after actor, she is still the same. She has no airs. She comes to the shooting spot on time, which motivates all of us to work better. Otherwise, she is a perfectionist and a wonderful human being. When a director pitches in a story, she comes up with ideas about the costumes, make-up, hair-do and so on. She has made it big in Tamil cinema on sheer merit.”
Filmmaker Ashwin Saravanan of Maya fame finds Nayanthara, a thorough professional. He said, “First, when I met her on the sets of Thani Oruvan to narrate the story of Maya, there was no ice-breaking session. She asked me to take her through the story and I honestly didn’t expect that. I was a bit insecure because I hadn’t worked as an assistant director with anybody. But it never bothered her. She made me comfortable and I felt like home. Nayanthara doesn’t see herself as a star and does what really caters to the film. I feel happy when I think Maya has set an example for other ‘commercial-female centric films’.” Ashwin added Nayanthara doesn’t do many improvisations shot-wise on the spot. “She’s someone who sticks to the script and lets the filmmaker do his job.”
Naanum Rowdy Dhaan director Vignesh Shivn thinks Nayanthara’s honest attitude and straightforwardness are the qualities that make her unique. “She makes it a point to do things in a different way and goes out of her way to support people who have similar thoughts. She is modest, god-fearing and has a simple approach to life.”
According to Mohan Raja, Nayanthara is open to experimenting with roles that have helped her break the average-heroine image. He said, “Her films indirectly have given confidence to other female actors that their ‘solo films’ can run successfully in theaters. She has a knack of choosing content-driven films. And she has been proving the same consistently. In Thani Oruvan, we were supposed to have an opening song for Nayanthara, but she herself felt that was out of place and suggested to remove the song. It is a rare quality that actors possess. Most importantly, when a film becomes a huge success, she never takes the whole credit to herself.”
Gopi Nainar, who directed Nayanthara in Aramm, said, “I’ve seen how she makes a conscious effort to sign on better films and meatier roles. It is evident that she is gifted with the uncommon determination of aiming for bigger and better things in life.”
Ajay Gnanamuthu, who worked with her in Imaikka Nodigal, added, “She has a bigger opening market than most of her contemporaries. I never realised the fan base she had until we shot for my film in Bengaluru. We landed up in a place that had lots of Tamilians, and we couldn’t shoot even a single shot. Her caravan was surrounded by 1000 people, and it took hours for us to clear the crowd. That level of star craze is usually seen only for Ajith and Vijay.”
We all know Nayanthara is a talented actor, but director Nelson of Kolamaavu Kokila fame reveals Nayanthara is a fantastic cook. “She brings homemade cakes and cookies to the sets. Avunga set-la irundhaa, yaarum pasiyoda irukka maataanga. (When she’s on the sets, she makes sure everyone is well-fed.)”
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