Radhamani in ‘Oruthee’ is an everyday woman we see around us, says Navya Nair

Navya makes her comeback to Malayalam cinema in ‘Oruthee’, releasing on March 18

March 16, 2022 08:42 pm | Updated March 17, 2022 06:24 pm IST

Navya Nair in ‘Oruthee’ directed by VK Prakash

Navya Nair in ‘Oruthee’ directed by VK Prakash | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

From Balamani in her breakthrough film Nandanam (2002) to Radhamani in Oruthee, releasing on March 18, Navya Nair has travelled a long way, as a woman and actor.

Talking over the phone from Kochi, the articulate actor says she is happy to make her comeback after 2012 as the leading lady of Oruthee, a woman-centric film.  

Directed by VK Prakash, the film revolves around Radhamani, a conductor in a jhangar in Kochi. Her trials and tribulations, her dreams and the daily grind of a working woman form the crux of the film. “Radhamani’s husband in West Asia loses his job but she consoles her husband and faces life with an optimistic attitude. Radhamani is an everyday woman we see around us,” narrates Navya.

She adds that Oruthee was chosen because the character is realistic. “I have seen several women, including my mother, do a tightrope walk to try to do justice to the many roles that society expects of women. I am a good listener and observer and that helps me get into the skin of a character,” says the actor who has won two Kerala State Film awards for the best female actor for Nandanam, and Saira and Kanne Madanguka (2005).

Navya Nair in ‘Oruthee’ directed by VK Prakash

Navya Nair in ‘Oruthee’ directed by VK Prakash | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Was it difficult to play the character on a moving jhangar? “Not at all. Shot over 25 days in Kochi, I had no difficulty at all in becoming Radhamani. In Jalolsavam (2003), I had to row a small country boat. That was not easy and I spent a week learning how to do that,” says Navya.

She hastens to add that in the case of cinema, it is teamwork that is behind the success of a film or a character. Every single team member matters. No film is ever one person’s effort, she believes. Oruthee unfolds over three days and Navya in a no-makeup role, shines in the trailer.

One of the frontline heroines in Malayalam cinema in the noughties and the first decade of the 22nd century, Navya had also made a mark in Tamil and Kannada.  Like many other heroines in Malayalam cinema, she took a break from films after her marriage in 2010.

“In those days, married women did not get leading roles. At best, they would get character roles. Cinema is my passion, not only a profession. I was not ready to compromise on my role and was willing to watch cinema from the sidelines,” she says.

The comeback

It was Manju Warrier’s comeback and success as one of the top heroines in Malayalam cinema that motivated Navya to resume acting. She was also encouraged by the sea change in themes, scripts and  characterisation of women that had taken place in Mollywood.

Navya Nair

Navya Nair | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“Manju chechi proved that women don’t need to move away from acting after their marriage or be satisfied with roles that seldom do justice to their talent. There is space for women of all ages,” feels Navya.

She asserts that it was not viewers who decided that they did not want to see women of different ages in plum roles. It was a misconception that was fostered by the film industry.

“Yet, we must remember that there was a time in Malayalam cinema when veterans such as Sheela amma, Sharada amma and Jayabharathi amma called the shots. Films were planned around their dates. That was their stature as actors. We haven’t regained that space!”

Different approach

When she began listening to scripts, she realised that there were not many films written for women. That was when she got to read the script of Oruthee and she decided to essay Radhamani. She says with a laugh that Balamani was a naïve 16-year-old and Radhamani is a woman in her mid-thirties who has seen life. “I was 16 when I acted in Nandanam. I am 36 years now and naturally, there is a huge difference in my approach to my character and story,” she asserts.

Even when Navya  was not acting, she points out that she has not missed a single movie that was released in theatres or on OTT platforms. “I have kept myself up to date on all the movies that were released in Malayalam. Cinema, as I said, is my passion. I have also tried not to miss editions of the International Film Festival of Kerala,” says Navya. She has had the distinction of having two of her films screened as part of the festival in 2005.

The talented dancer, the winner of several prizes in the State schools youth festivals, plans to open a dance school in Kochi.

Moving on, she says direction and writing, she believes, are on the cards as many of her directors have told her that she would be able to do it. “It might happen but not any time now.”

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