She is the ‘Adiyae Azhagae’ girl.
Nivetha Pethuraj (27) breezed her way into our consciousness with this song from her debut, Oru Naal Koothu (2016).
Her USP? She is a Tamil-speaking leading lady, and hails from Madurai.
Raised in Dubai — her expat father still works there — she won the Miss India UAE pageant in 2015, which opened doors to the Tamil industry.
Following last year’s space flick, Tik Tik Tik , with Jayam Ravi, she was touted to go places. That has not happened yet.
Her glamorous turn in Venkat Prabhu’s multi-starrer, Party , has been on hold for a while. There is also Jagajala Killadi with Vishnu Vishal, and Prabhu Deva’s Pon Manickavel , both of which she expects will be out in the “next couple of months”.
But first we’ll see her in the Telugu film, Chitralahari, releasing next week. Excerpts from an interview:
Do you feel your USP hasn’t had the desired result?
Yes. These things are very unpredictable. Of course, calculations can go wrong when a film doesn’t release. Anyone who thinks they can be the next Nayanthara or the next Tamannaah, are only making a fool out of themselves. I’m grateful that I’m still a part of this industry.
But the Tamil audience’s interest in you hasn’t abated.
But the audience’s taste will keep changing. On social media, they celebrate people for a short period of time. #OviyaArmy was trending for a while, and then it was Priya Prakash Varrier’s wink .
You have had people moral police what you choose to do...
As long as what I do doesn’t affect my family, I’m not bothered. For instance, I was offered a role of a DJ who was a drug addict. I turned it down, though I’d have loved to do it.
My relatives still live in villages and wouldn’t have accepted my choice. Also, my parents have to come down after retirement and live there. It is a personal choice that I’ve made peace with.
What are your future projects in Tamil?
Besides Pon Manickavel , Jagajala Killadi and Party , I have two other projects. One is with Vijay Sethupathi, and the other is titled Vaan , with Dulquer Salmaan. I’m also in talks to sign a female-oriented project.
Has the digital streaming wave appealed to you?
It is the future. But I’m waiting for it to blow up a bit more before taking the leap. This industry perceives actors who have gone to web series in a different light. I want people to understand and accept digital streaming for what it is before I try it.
How was your transition from Dubai to Chennai?
In Dubai (where she was modelling), I was working with people of different nationalities, and my perspective of life was different.
I became an introvert after turning an actor and relocating (to Chennai). I isolate myself on the sets, when I want to get into my character’s skin. People have misinterpreted that as me being a moody person.
You’re a very spiritual person.
But I was an atheist growing up. When I was in college, my parents took me to a temple near Madurai (Madapuram Kali temple in Sivaganga).
During the ritual ceremony, I felt an energy within me, and my family was convinced that the deity had taken over. Since then, I am more spiritual, and now prefer minimalism.