Nayanthara made her acting debut in the 2003 Malayalam film Manassinakkare with Jayaram.She also acted along with Mohanlal in the super hit Malayalam film Natturajavu before foraying into Tamil and Telugu cinema. She made her debut in Tamil cinema with Ayya (2005) and Telugu with Lakshmi (2006). Both were successful. After this she had numerous commercially successful Tamil and Telugu films like Chandramukhi (2005), Dubai Seenu (2007), Tulasi (2007), Billa (2007), Yaaradi Nee Mohini (2008), Aadhavan (2009), Adhurs (2010), Simha (2010), Boss Engira Bhaskaran (2010), Sri Rama Rajyam (2011), Raja Rani (2013), Arrambam (2013), Thani Oruvan (2015), Maya (2015), Naanum Rowdy Dhaan (2015), Babu Bangaram (2016) and Iru Mugan (2016), making her the highest paid actress in South India after Anushka Shetty.
In 2010, she also made her Kannada film debut through the Kannada-Telugu bilingual film Super, her only appearance in a Kannada film to date. Her portrayal of Sita in Sri Rama Rajyam (2011) earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Telugu Actress and the Nandi Award for Best Actress. She won the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Actress for her performance in Raja Rani (2013) and Naanum Rowdy dhan (2015). Kochi Times named her in its “List of 15 Most Desirable Women in 2014”. In 2017, she was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Malayalam Actress for her performance in Puthiya Niyamam (2016), marking her first Filmfare award in her mother tongue.
Nayanthara Early life
Nayanthara was born in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, to Malayali Orthodox Christian parents Kurian Kodiyattu and Omana Kurian who hail from the aristocratic Kodiyatt family from Tiruvalla, Kerala. Her brother, Leno, who is nine years older, lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. As her father was an Indian Air Force official, Nayanthara studied in various parts of India, mainly in North India. She did her schooling in Jamnagar, Gujarat and Delhi. In Tiruvalla, she studied at Balikamadom Girls Higher Secondary School and then attended Marthoma College for her bachelor’s degree in English Literature.
Debut in Malayalam cinema
While studying at college, Nayanthara worked part-time as a model. She was spotted by director Sathyan Anthikkad, who had seen some of her modelling assignments and approached her to play a pivotal role in his film Manassinakkare (2003). Although she turned down the offer initially, as she was not interested in films, she gave in eventually and agreed to do “just that one film”. Manassinakkare went on to become a high financial success and she continued to receive acting offers. Both her releases in 2004, Natturajavu by Shaji Kailas, and Fazil’s psychological thriller Vismayathumbathu, saw her co-starring alongside Mohanlal; while she played the protagonist’s adopted sister in the former, she portrayed a ghost in the latter. Her performance in Vismayathumbathu, in particular, was lauded, with critics claiming that she had “stolen the thunder with her author-backed role”, and was “the revelation of the film”. She also acted in Thaskara Veeran and Rappakal.
Work in Tamil and Telugu cinema
Nayanthara subsequently started appearing in Tamil and Telugu films. In 2005, she was cast in Hari’s Ayya, debuting in the Tamil film industry. Behindwoods.com stated that she had made a “sensational debut in Tamil”, while a reviewer from Nowrunning.com said that her “presence with her beautiful smile is crowd winning”. While still shooting for Ayya, she was selected for the comedy horror film Chandramukhi, after its director P. Vasu’s wife had seen Manassinakkare and recommended her. The film ran for over 800 days in theatres, eventually turning Nayanthara into one of the most-sought after actresses in Tamil. Later that year she appeared in A R Murugadoss’ Ghajini, in which she played a secondary female character. Nayanthara then accepted to appear in an item number as herself in the Perarasu-directed masala film Sivakasi.
Nayanthara’s first release in 2006 was Kalvanin Kadhali. Indiaglitz.com stated her performance was the “strength of the film”. She next made her debut in Telugu, starring in the film Lakshmi, following which she performed in Boss, I Love You. Three Tamil films in which she enacted the lead female characters – Vallavan, Thalaimagan and E – were released simultaneously during Deepavali 2006. All three films opened to mixed reviews. In Vallavan, she portrayed a lecturer who falls in love with a student younger than her. Sify wrote: “Nayanthara virtually walks away with the film and has never looked so beautiful. She looks gorgeous especially in songs and does justice to her well-etched out role”. The science fiction thriller E featured Nayanthara in the role of a bar dancer. Reviewers from Rediff stated that she made an impact. Indiaglitz said she was “very adequate and impressive in a slightly complicated role”, and that she had “come up with a good performance”. In Thalaimagan, she played a news reporter, with critics agreeing that she did not have much to do in the film.
Nayanthara was born and brought up as a Syrian Christian. On 7 August 2011, she converted to Hinduism at the Arya Samaj Temple in Chennai. She has gone through Shuddhi Karma, a procedure involving a Vedic purification and a Homam where Nayanthara chanted the hymns from Veda and Gayatri Mantra under the guidance of the priest. After the purification ceremony, a Certificate of Conversion to Hinduism was issued to her and her stage name, Nayanthara, became her official name. She also visited a number of holy places, including Haridwar and Rishikesh in May 2014.
In 2010, Prabhu Deva’s wife Latha filed a petition at the family court, seeking directions against Deva from living in a relationship with Nayanthara and requesting a reunion with him.Furthermore, she threatened to go on hunger strike if Prabhu Deva married Nayanthara, while several women’s organisations conducted protests against Nayanthara for bringing disrepute to the Tamil culture, burning an effigy of her. In 2012, Nayanthara confirmed that she had ended her relationship with Deva..
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Nayanthara.