It was a memorable moment for Radha's family when director Bharatiraja went to the theatre for the first time in his life and saw Ko (Rangam). He only goes to the previews. He then called Kartika Nair home and wrapped a shawl around her leaving her family members speechless. Such honour was unexpected.
Meanwhile, the fans of yesteryear heroine Radha have surfaced again but this time the association will bear her daughter's name. Born and brought up in Mumbai, Kartika made her debut in Telugu film Josh. Naga Chaitanya her co-star had been preparing for his entry for sometime but Kartika had just jumped in and allowed the director to mould her. “Looking back I think I was raw. If I had been to an acting school I would have been like dry, stubborn clay. People have given up everything to act, I'm lucky to have acting in my destiny. There is huge celebration in Tamil Nadu now, they are saying our daughter is acting,” she smiles.
Her mother kept Kartika away from limelight though she wanted to do more films. . She is now multi-tasking; doing her graduation from the London School of Economics that has its affiliation in Mumbai, helping her dad in his hotel business and then doing films — a decision that she says is based not on languages but according to the scripts. Kartika has been offered films in French, German and Korean after the release of her Malayalam debut Makaramanju directed by Santosh Sivan which was part period and fictional. It was selected for the Indian Panorama. Danny Boyle even called and congratulated her on her work that has her doing dual roles of a muse of Raja Ravi Verma and as Urvasi, the dancer in Lord Indra's court.
So what worked for Ko? “Everything,” she avers and adds that photography, the script which doubled up as the hero, significant characterisation and the universal theme of the story and the awesome locations, all helped. She says, that every day was a huge adventure and she was the only female actor to shoot for a film, standing on a rock between two mountains that was three thousand feet above in in Norway. She neither confirms nor denies the news that she could play the role similar to what she did in Ko in a Hindi remake. Kartika quips, “Akshay Kumar got the rights, but nothing has been finalised. If it happens, it will be very close to my heart.” Kartika has also learnt to be politically correct within three films, says that having played a journalist she feels close to all the journalists now.
As for her mother, Kartika remarks that people still recognise her and she is very happy being a housewife. Is she the only successor to Radha in the movie industry? “Not really,” she says. Her aunt Ambika's sons are studying in the acting schools in US and would be directing soon. Ambika herself is directing a Malayalam movie that would be dubbed in Tamil and Telugu . Radha's brother Suresh is into movie business as well. With so many people in the family involved in cinema, it is hardly surprising that Kartika took the plunge into filmdom once she completed her 10th grade in school.