Remya Nambhessan is on a high as she finally gets her act together.

Malayalam actors, especially women, are always game for a trek across the border to the greener pastures of Kollywood and beyond, more often than not scaling heights of fame and fortune in the process. One of the more active entrants in this ever-growing crop of ‘cross-over heroines' is young actor Remya Nambhessan, who starred in the lead in Tamil period flick ‘Ilaignan' and comedy caper ‘Kullanari Koottam,' which were released recently. Incidentally, ‘Ilaignan' is Tamil Nadu Chief Minster M. Karunanidhi's 75th film as a scriptwriter. These two successes in Tamil come hot on the heels of her noteworthy performance in Rajesh Pillai's when-strangers-meet blockbuster thriller ‘Traffic.'

On a roll

“I feel honoured to have acted in ‘Ilaignan.' I am told that Karunanidhi sir saw a picture of me and thought I would be perfect for this period film, where I play a village belle and the love interest of a rebellious bonded labourer (played by scriptwriter Pa. Vijay),” says Remya, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer. Meanwhile, her role in ‘Kullanari Koottam' isa comedy act and that in ‘Traffic' is a startlingly negative one – both marked departures from the davani-pavada clad, demure village belle that we're used to seeing of Remya. (Laughs) “Yes, 2011 has begun with a bang for me. I am on a high!” says the actor.

Understandably so considering that the actor, who hails from Chottanikkara, Kochi, has been perpetually on the fringes of tinsel town, despite being a part of the industry since she began her career as a child artiste in R. Sharath's critically-acclaimed ‘Sayahnam,' followed by small roles in the short film ‘Bhoomikkoru Charamageetham' and feature films such as ‘Narendran Makan Jayakanthan Vaka' and ‘Gramaphone,' to name a few. Her first starring role was in the largely forgettable ‘Aanachandam' (2006) directed by Jairaj. “When Jairaj sir telephoned me with the offer I thought it was a hoax call! I am to star opposite Jayaram? I was dumbstruck. Both the director and the actor were childhood idols. I know that the film itself is nothing much to write about, but it was a challenge for me in every sense, being my first as a lead actor and all.”

Turning point

However, it wasn't until ‘Chocolate' (2007), in which she starred as one of the three female leads along with Roma and Samvritha Sunil, that Remya began to be noticed. “Admittedly, my choice of films hasn't been that great. But I consider each of them as a learning process,” says the actor, perhaps referring to the dud roles in ‘Changatipoocha' and ‘Panthaya Kozhi,' although she did redeem herself with her performance in Adoor Gopalakrishnan's ‘Naalu Pennungal.' “An actor should be a keen observer. I watch different kinds of movies, from comedy to serious cinema, to understand how actors sketch a particular character and I try to learn as much as I can from them,” says Remya, who adds that acting is in her genes, having grown up watching the histrionic skills of her father, former theatre artiste Subrahmaniam Unni, who was an active member of troupes such as Jubilee and Harishree.

Post-‘Chocolate' and ‘Naalu Pennungal,'Remya has been steadily adding sterling roles to her kitty, especially those from across the border such as the Tamil film ‘Raman Thediya Seetai,' the Telugu flick ‘Saarai Veerraju,' and more recently, a starring role in the Tamil flick ‘Aattanayagann,' opposite Shakti.

Remya, who, once upon a time, hosted Kairali TV's phone-in music show ‘Hello, Good Evening,' and who is a keen Carnatic vocalist herself with a couple of numbers in devotional albums to her credit, adds playback songs to her many talents singing for ‘Ivan Megharoopan,' a biopic on poet P. Kunhiraman Nair, directed by P. Balachandran, with music by Sharreth.

Up next for the affable youngster is a starring role in ‘Muriyadi,' the Tamil remake of the Malayalam hit ‘Passenger,' and ‘Salamat' in Telugu. Remya's annus mirabilis continues.

Remya's takes

Inspired by Actors Sreedevi, Madhuri Dikshit and Salma Hayek for their natural acting and choice of roles.

Favourite films ‘Meghamalhar' (Malayalam) for its poetic beauty, and ‘Days of the Butterflies' (English) not because it is a great film or anything but because of how Salma made her presence felt in the film.

Love to wear I'm most comfortable in a jeans and T-shirt.

Support system My father, Subrahmaniam Unni, mother, Jayasree, and brother, Rahul, are my biggest strengths and my best critics.

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