Women Of The Year 2020: The Creative Performer Nithya Menen
She’s made her way into the country’s hearts, language no…
She’s made her way into the country’s hearts, language no bar. With her web debut this year and a stellar line-up for the next year, Nithya Menen is soaring high.
Nithya Menen’s introduction to the majority of people north of the Vindhyas was through Mani Ratnam’s film O Kadhal Kanmani, or OK Kanmani. Her effervescent portrayal of Taara made everyone fall in love with her, and people began to watch her other work. In a career spanning over 12 years, the actor has been a part of five different languages, from Malayalam to Kannada, to Tamil, to Telugu, to Hindi. In 2019, she did films in all these five languages, and had even more praise coming her way.
Though the world was thrown into chaos by the coronavirus, Nithya was able to do something that she had never attempted before during the lockdown. After regulating her sleep cycle, relaxing, and reading, she began writing, and wrote a full script. Eventually, she wants to turn her film script into a feature film. Secondly, the actor made her digital debut opposite Abhishek Bachchan with Breathe: Into the Shadows. The story revolved around a couple searching their lost daughter, Siya. Speaking of her experience working on a web show, she told The Hindu, “I really had a good time. There were no conventional limitations that one faces while making films, and it is the stuff I dreamt about, including the work environment. Working with people of similar wavelengths is my happy space on the sets. There was an understanding of the emotional space that an actor requires, and I got that space. The idea is not usually understood, nor is an actor given that while shooting films, where there is a lot of ‘noise’ around. For an actor to perform, they need that to get into the emotional space of the character. I miss that when I work on my films. It is my best performance.”
Not many people know that Nithya had no plans of becoming an actor. The makers of The Monkey Who Knew Too Much pursued her to be an actor. It was an English film, and she was only 10 when she played Tabu’s younger sister. She wanted to become a journalist, but found journalism unappealing, and turned to film-making at FTII Pune. Though she wanted to pursue cinematography, B. V. Nandini Reddy convinced her to pursue acting instead. She even gave her a break in her first-ever Telugu film, Ala Modalaindi, in 2011. Today, the actor has more than 50 films to her credit and has won multiple awards across language for her performances.
Nithya’s first full-length role was in the Malayalam film Aakasha Gopuram, starring Mohanlal, in 2008. Mohanlal spotted her on the cover of a magazine, and the makers decided to cast her. She was 17 at the time. Malayalam film audiences noticed Nithya in Anjali Menon’s Happy Journey, which is a segment of 2009 anthology Kerala Café. One of Nithya’s biggest strengths is her ability to work in various languages. “I come from a Malayali family that mostly spoke Tamil while living in Bengaluru, and I studied in a Kannada school. I could feel at home everywhere,” she said, in an interview to Huffington Post. She even dubs her lines for all her films. Working in multiple languages has its benefits as well. Speaking about the same to Huffington Post, she said, “Who gets to do this? Every few years, I feel like a debutante. I feel like a brand-new person every time I am on a film set where the primary language is different from my previous film. Isn’t that fantastic? As a creative person, I could not have asked for more.”
The actor was not very comfortable to get back on the sets post the virus scare, but now she is back, not for one but two of her films. She has signed a Malayalam movie opposite Vijay Sethupathi titled 19, and a Telugu film with Ashok Selvam and Ritu Varma, titled Ninnila Ninnila. She is also going to be a part of Tamil anthology web series, titled Navarasa, bankrolled by Mani Ratnam, along with Jayendra Panchapakesan, and will soon Mission Mangal stream on Netflix.