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Simply electrifying

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Nayanthara talks about her latest film Electra in Malayalam and her star trek through tinselville

Atrim and glowing Nayanthara finds it difficult to stop talking about Electra Alexander, her character in Shyamaprasad's film Electra. The oomph girl is nowhere in the picture as she gushes about her role and its challenges.

“Electra is a complex character driven by love and loyalty. Such challenging female characters are hard to come by in Indian cinema; so I really enjoy playing her,” says the actor who has made a comeback to Malayalam films with Bodyguard.

It is the role, the banner and the director that matter. That's why she chose to act in Siddique's Bodyguard, she says. “I was not enthused by the characters that came my way. Moreover, my dates were all tied up in major Telugu and Tamil productions,” she adds.

Amazing makeover

Agreeing that some of her roles in her blockbusters did not require her to act beyond looking glamorous, she says that although she has always wanted to do “good roles,” she does not have much of a choice as most films focus on the hero. But the heroine seems to be sitting pretty with significant films in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. While her previous Telugu film Simha is a hit, there is the soon-to-released Boss Engira Baskaran in Tamil (with Arya), and Symbol, her first Kannada film, which will be directed by Upendra. And there is Electra, which is to be an Onam release.

Six years in the film industry have seen her amazing makeover from the homely Gouri of Manasinakkare to the item girl and glam girl of Tamil and Telugu cinema (read Ayya, Chandramukhi, Billa, Sathyam, Villu…). The plump girl of Ayya has changed into a svelte and slim actor.

However Nayanthara insists there has been no transformation. “I owe my figure to my personal trainer; no crash diets. As for my roles, I just play a character. If a particular role requires me to sport a glamorous look, I do that.”

In the same breath she rues that in most films “the heroine comes in a few scenes before a song or two and then disappears after that, not really playing a major character in the story. No complaints, but I wish there are more of those old-world, heroine-driven films.”

The model who reached cinema via modelling says tinsel town was never her destination. “When I was doing my BA (literature) at Mar Thoma College, Thiruvalla, I was terribly confused. At one point, I wanted to become a chartered accountant. I am grateful to Sathyan sir for helping me make up my mind. He advised me to make my own decisions and I've done that ever since,” asserts the actor.

Having acted in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam and with most of the leading actors this side of the Vindhyas, Nayantara says she is now looking for meaty roles that will give her space to act and not merely expect her to break into a dance after every other scene.

“That is why I wanted to work with Shyam. His attitude towards cinema and his handling of a theme are riveting. I saw his Ore Kadal and was charmed by the story and the way he had dealt with it. So when I met Vindhyan, (producer of Ore Kadal and Electra), I told him how much I would love to work with Shyam,” beams Nayanthara.

She says she believes in choosing her roles carefully, going on to add that usually there is a certain image of offbeat films being boring, slow and meandering. However, she feels Shyamaprasad has that touch of class and skill that make his offbeat films a pleasure to watch. For the first time, Nayanthara will also be dubbing for the film.

Playing her parents in the film are Prakash Raj and Manisha Koirala while Skanda (who opened his Mollywood chapter with Notebook) is her brother, Edwin. She agrees with a smile that just working with such actors is a privilege.

Nayanthara says she is at home in Kollywood, Tollywood or Mollywood as she has travelled and lived in many places in India as her father was in the Indian Air Force. “In fact, Thiruvalla used to mean vacations when I was a kid. Now that is where my parents live.” . Despite the rumour mills working overtime, she says she has no regrets as she has always been honest and sincere in her work and life. Ten years, from now, Nayanthara says she sees herself playing homemaker and mom in real life. Has the tattooed ‘P' in English and ‘rabhu' in Tamil on her left hand got to do anything with her decision? “That's speculation and in the future,” she laughs.

SARASWATHY NAGARAJAN

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