From a heroine to Kollywood's 'Lady Superstar': Tracing Nayanthara's phenomenal journey
Nayanthara's journey is indeed inspirational!
One of Southern cinema's biggest stars, Nayanthara was only 18 when she made her acting debut in 2003. It was Sathyan Anthikad’s Malayalam film Manassinakkare. She bagged the film when she was working as a model. The 37-year-old actor, in a career spanning close to 2 decades, proved that the patriarchal system, be it in Hollywood, Bollywood or South, could not stop women from getting ahead of anything. She took over the male-dominated industry like no other.
After her debut in 2003, Nayanthara shot to fame with films like Chandramukhi (2005), Boss (2006), Villu ( 2009) and Super (2010) followed by Ghajini (2005) and Billa (2007) and many more. She shared screen space with big male actors like Rajinikanth, Thalapathy Vijay, and Nagarjuna Akkineni among others. Her journey, in a patriarchal industry, was truly phenomenal. She topped against all odds in the industry where everything revolves around their heroics.
She did have her share of good and bad films but continued to run the show like a boss! Nayanthara took a short sabbatical in 2011 and post that, she reclaimed her chair with the 2013 release Raja Rani. It was a crucial year for her because she had not one but 5 Tamil films releasing in the same year.
Nayanthara in Manassinakkare
Nayanthara in Raja Rani
A lot was written in the media about her personal life but she managed to bounce back. Her career took a dip after the news of her relationships surfaced on social media. She was hardly seen in any movies and at a time when Nayanthara was almost forgotten by the people, her role as Sita in a Telugu movie grabbed everyone's attention again.
She was on a new path of self-awareness. She started taking up a lot of commanding roles, which the audience was not used to seeing in a male-dominated industry. Nayanthara was the woman in charge. In fact, she opened the market for most of her contemporaries.
Thirunaal and Irumugan had popular actors like Jiiva and Vikram but it was Nayanthara who managed to steal the spotlight. The movie got a solid opening at the box office with Nayan's performance at par. She was uncompromisingly committed to her work.
As a person, Nayanthara always remained away from the media glare, private parties and promotional events. The Aramm actress is known to be a mysterious star who lets her work do all the talking.
She was shattering glass ceilings in every way. Her film Kolamavu Kokila was among a very few movies to get 6 AM shows at the time of its release. A slot that is usually reserved for superstars and their films.
In Viswasam, Nayanthara in the role of Niranjana walks away from her marriage with Thooku Durai played by Ajith and in Vijay’s Bigil, her whistle-worthy monologue about encouraging women to pursue their dreams broke the Internet. Time and again, the Sye Raa actress proved she doesn't rely on her male counterpart to shoulder a project. She proved herself with women-centric projects such as Kolayuthir Kaalam, Co Co and Imaikaa Nodigal. The diva continued to play diverse roles.
2020 released film Mookuthi Amman was another game-changer film. 2021 saw her fifth collaboration with Rajinikanth with the film Annaatthe. The stunner then featured in Netrikann, a remake of the 2011 South Korean film Blind. Her first release of 2022 was Kaathu Vaakula Rendu Kaadhal alongside Samantha and Vijay Sethupathi ruled the box office.
This is Nayanthara for you and why she is dubbed as the ‘Lady Superstar’ of Kollywood. There were a few movies Nayanthara decided to walk out of only because the makers weren't ready to pay her what she demanded. She is known to have stuck to her guns.
Married to director Vignesh Shivan in 2022, Nayanthara is currently shooting for Shah Rukh Khan co-starrer Jawan. Helmed by Atlee, the movie will see her in another powerful role. She broke the myth that marriage may make actresses lose work opportunities.