The big migration of the stars
Actors from Malayalam cinema hit the big time in Kollywood.
GIRL NEXT DOOR: Gopika
A new, ambitious breed of 20-something Malayali girls are ruling the roost
as heroines in Tamil cinema. They ooze confidence, and have the right amount of glamour and attitude to go with their roles. Nayantara, Asin and Gopika are the three Malayali girls who rule Tamil cinema. And waiting on the wings for the big break are Renuka Menon, Sreedevika, Navya Nair, Nitya Das and others.
Meera Jasmine who started the current trend of Malayali actresses migrating to Tamil screen was much in demand after her debut Tamil film `Run' with Madhavan became a super hit. And now she is trying to stage a comeback after she had a string of flops with big stars.
`CHINNA KUSHBOO': Nayantara
Nayantara, made her debut with Sathyan Anthikkad's `Manasinakkare,' a film that hit the headlines as it was veteran actress Sheela's comeback film. Nobody expected this girl to transform herself into the `Chinna Kushboo' of Kollywood! And after her debut film `Ayya' with Sarath Kumar bombed, she bagged the biggest movie of 2005, `Chandramukhi,' opposite Rajnikanth. Says Nayantara: "I am not averse to doing glamour roles if the script demands. In fact, it was the songs in `Ayya' and `Chandramukhi,' which made people realize that I can be glamorous." Now she is doing glamorous roles in `Kalvanin Kathali' opposite S.J. Suryah, `Ghajini' with Surya and `Vallavan' with Silambarasan.
Another small-town actress who has made it big in Kollywood is Girly. After winning the Miss Thrissur beauty contest, she starred in a forgettable `Pranayamanithooval.' Later, she was re-christened as Gopika and cast as the heroine in Jayaraj's `4 The People.' Gopika got the biggest break when she was featured in the song `Lajjavathiye...' that was also dubbed into Tamil. Her `Autograph' with Cheran turned out to be a mega blockbuster of 2004. Last week, her performance in `Kana Kandein' had the critics raving about her performance. Says Gopika: "I think my fans are women who want to see me in family-oriented subjects. Right now I want to balance my roles in Tamil and Malayalam and I am doing two films with Dileep and Mamootty sir." Gopika's next Tamil releases are `Thotti Jaya' with Silambarasan and `Ponniyin Selvan' with Ravi Krishna.
Asin had an insignificant role in a Sathyan Anthikkad film and she migrated to Telugu where she had a super hit film with Ravi Teja called `Amma Nana O Tamil Ammayi.' Later, she did films with top actors like Venkatesh and Balakrishna, before she migrated to Tamil.
Her first film `M. Kumaran Son of Mahalakshmi' with teen heartthrob Jayam Ravi was a super hit, which paved the way for future films. Now Asin has the pick of roles with top heroes like Vijay in `Sivakasi,' Ajit in `Godfather,' Surya in `Ghajini' and Vikram in `Maja.' According to Asin: "I am looking for roles that suit my age. Of course commercial success matters a lot in films and I consider myself lucky to be a part of some interesting films."
GOING PLACES: Navya Nair
Navya Nair was introduced by producer-actor Prakash Raj in his home production `Azhagiya Theeye' with Prasanna in the lead. She has just completed `Amritham,' an off-beat film directed by Kannan and is also signed by Thangar Bachchan to be his heroine in `Chidambarathil Oru Appasamy.'
Renuka Menon, the heroine of Kamal's `Nammal' was disappointed after no films came her way and she shifted to Hyderabad where she did two Telugu films. Now she is the heroine in `Dass' with Jayam Ravi and `February 14' with Bharath.
OOZING OOMPH: Asin
From the days of the Travancore sisters Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini, Malayali actors have been making it big in other South Indian languages, especially Tamil. In the 80's there were Ambika and Radha. And with Malayalam cinema becoming superstar-centric and the genre of heroine-oriented films fading out, new girls were left with lesser known heroes.
The advantages of Tamil cinema were the glitz and glamour plus the huge pay cheque compared to Malayalam. Today a top heroine makes Rs. 30 lakh per film and the reach of Tamil films is awesome. They also stand a better chance to get lucrative endorsement deals and stage shows abroad. The actresses know that their staying power is limited. Their logic seems to be to make hay while the sun shines.
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