Nadia Moidu is still making heads turn. The actor who is seen sporadically in films says that acting has become harder as she has turned more sensitive

A group of men, in their 60s, at one of the Kochi Biennale venues whisper to each other, “Did you see Nadia Moidu? Come, come…” and they make their way to where Girly of Nokkatha Doorathu Kannunattu is.

She laughs. “It is an immense blessing. Because it takes that one film to make an actor and for me it was my first, Nokkatha Doorathu…, people appreciated and remembered that character,” she says. It’s sweltering outside and she walks in, a picture of cool. We are at the stark white and vacant café at Pepper House, a site for the biennale, on Bazaar Road. Dressed in an off-white tunic and white trousers she is a head-turner. Even heads belonging to a generation that was born much after 1984 (the year Nokkatha Doorathu was made) turn as she walks in.

Mumbai-based Nadia is in town for the shoot of Aaru Sundarimarude Katha (ASK). A day off in the schedule and she landed in Fort Kochi to catch up on the biennale experience, with friend Bose Krishnamachari. They share the camaraderie of old friends, from a time before stardom happened to either of them. “I have been friends with Riyas Komu and Bose for a long time,” Nadia says. She studied Commercial Art at J.J. College of Arts in Mumbai before films happened, big time. The art student in her is full of praise for the KMB (Kochi Muziris Biennale) and the exposure to international art it offers.

Keen on good films

Besides ASK, she will also be seen in Shyamaprasad’s English. Nadia has been sporadically acting in films. One of the reasons being that she is keen on doing good films. This insistence on doing meaningful cinema is because she owes it to her audience. She would rather “not do random films for the sake of it. I would rather do a film that inspires people in some way.” The other is, of course, family. She doesn’t want to stay away from home, husband and two daughters, for too long.

Since she is based in Mumbai, she does not get to see too many Malayalam films. And we find that ‘new’ films such as 22FK, Chappa Kurish, Traffic, Usthad Hotel besides others figure on the list. The current wave of films, the so-called new generation, excites her. The audience, she feels, is ready for new things and to quit on the ‘boring stuff.’

As the conversation veers to Shyamaprasad’s latest, she gets animated. The director, she says, is an actor’s delight who makes actors push their boundaries as performers. That English is being filmed with sync sound is another thrill, of attempting something new, “I have never done that before.” In ASK she acts with Zarina Wahab, Prathap Pothen and Naren. “Working with actors who know their craft is always a pleasure especially talented youngsters like Naren.”

Talking about playing mother leads to M.Kumaran s/o Mahalaxmi, in 2004, the Tamil film in which she acted as Jeyam Ravi’s mother. That comeback film was the one which introduced audiences to Nadia in the hip avatar of the ‘cool mom’. “It was a film that introduced me to another fan base, the younger film goers.”

Incidentally she has done more Tamil films than Malayalam, that’s how her career panned out then, she says.

“That was a sweet and a not-so-sweet experience,” she says. Sweet because the audience responded very well and accepted her in that role. And the not part comes from the manner in which some sections of the media and the film industry reacted. “I liked the character. That it was of a woman who was a mother. They saw it as me doing a mother’s role with the negative connotations.” The film became a huge hit and she became the cool mom. She has tried to avoid being typecast and took her time in choosing her projects. She also acted in Malayalam films such as Sevenes and Doubles. She is also working in a Telugu film, Mirchi.

Sensitive as an actor

She has acted in a handful of Malayalam films, such as Shyama, Panchagni, Vannu Kandu Keezhadakki, Kandu Kandarinju, before she quit. And now that she is back, discounting Vadhu Doctoranu in the 90s, how different is the scene? “Acting has become harder because I have become more sensitive as an actor. That is probably because I am older and have acquired maturity having lived life as wife and mother. The maturity brings another level to the performance and there are such amazing actors today that one feels the challenge to do better.”

On that note it is time for a wrap and the Biennale beckons Nadia and she heads off to take in some art.

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