Nayanthara – Lady Superstar of South Indian Cinema

Nayanthara is a very popular and immensely successful actress of South Indian Cinema, who predominantly works in Tamil cinema. She is widely regarded as the most successful actress of south Indian cinema in the decade of 2010s, which earned her the title, ‘Lady Superstar’. She has also done several Malayalam and Telugu movies, apart from a few Kannada movies and has been paired with almost all leading actors of south Indian cinema among her contemporaries. She has worked with megastars – Rajinikanth, Mohanlal, Mammootty etc multiple number of times.

She became the photo queen of Vanitha women’s magazine in 2002

Nayanthara’s real name is Diana Mariam Kurian, and she was born in Bangalore, Karnataka to Malayali Christian family in 1984. Thiruvalla is her hometown. As her father worked in Indian Air Force, her childhood days were spent in different cities, where she completed her studies. In 2011 she embraced Hinduism and Nayanthara became her official name.

She started modelling during her college days. During 2002 September in the first week edition of Vanitha women’s magazine, she got elected as photo queen. Her name was credited as Diana Mariam Kurian then. Later she modelled for the cover and fashion pages of same magazine multiple times. She was spotted in one such photograph by ace Malayalam filmmaker Sathyan Anthikad who gave her first break to celluloid through Manasinikkare in 2003. The comeback movie of veteran actress Sheela, Nayanthara was paired with Jayaram in this film, and the movie was a major hit. She was rechristened as Nayanthara by the same director.

Her second release – Vismayathumpathu (2004) opposite Mohanlal was a flop. However he bagged more film offers from both Malayalam and Tamil movie industries. Natturajavu (2004) opposite Mohanlal was her third release, followed by her Tamil debut through Ayya same year.

Nayanthara’s pairing with Rajinikanth in Chandramukhi was a breakthrough role of her career

Chandramukhi (2005) was only her second release in Tamil. Though she played second lead in the film next to Jyothika, the role benefitted her career a lot and she rose to the league of top Tamil actresses. There was no turning back after that and she went on to establish herself as the most cashable female star of Tamil cinema, as well as Telugu cinema. Same year she had two back-to-back releases in Malayalam opposite Mammooty – Thaskara Veeran and Raappakal, after which she completely shifted her work to other south Indian language films.

Because of her immense popularity among fans, she has been a subject of tabloids always, and her gossips frequently filled entertainment columns of film magazines. Lakshmi in 2006 marked her Telugu debut, where she played a glamorous role. From there on, she played both traditional and glamorous roles on screen with ease, which helped her to earn the title, Lady Superstar.

Her big hits in South Indian cinema

She played a memorable supporting role in revenge drama, Ghajini in 2005. She gave a string of hits in different languages after that, and has completed 15 glorious years in the industry. Some of her noted Tamil movies are Vallavan, Thalaimagan, E, Darbar, Boss Engira Bhaskaran, Billa, Yaaradi Nee Mohini, Villu, Anjaneyulu, Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, Aadhavan, Iru Mugan, Dora, Kolamavu Kokila, Raja Rani, Thani Oruvan, Arrambam, Anaamika, Massu Engira Masilamani, Maya, Idhu Namma Aalu, Kaashmora, Aramm, Imaikkaa Nodigal, Bigil, Velaikkaran and many more.

Some of her noted Telugu works are Simha, Sri Rama Rajyam, Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Greeku Veerudu etc. Her major Malayalam works are Bhaskar The Rascal, Raappakal and Puthiya Niyamam opposite Mammootty, Bodyguard opposite Dileep, Elektra, Mnasinakkare etc.

About Nayanthara’s personal relationships

She was in a relationship with Silambarasan while they worked together in Vallavan (2006). After breakup she fell in love with Prabhudeva while he was directing Villu (2009), they had a live-in relationship and they decided to get married. Prabhudeva was already a married man with kid and after a series of events they got separated in 2012. She is in love with Naanum Rowdy Dhaan director Vignesh Shivan ever since she played female lead in the movie.

After facing setback from a couple of personal relationships, her career also witnessed a downfall. Everyone believed that her career virtually came to an end. However it was her new beginning and she made a glorious comeback following breakup with Prabhadeva, and signed a string of good projects and meaty roles one after another.

Krish’s Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum was her comeback movie after sabbatical of 11 months. Raja Rani became a milestone of her career, and she became the top star. Definitely hers is one of the most glorious comebacks south Indian cinema has ever witnessed. Later she played several female-centric roles on screen.

Nayanthara – Some interesting and less-known facts

1. She is known by different nicknames in the industry such as Nayans, Lady Superstar, Thalaivi etc.

2. After playing Rajinikanth’s lead lady in Chandramukhi, she made guest appearance in his films such as Kuselan and Sivaji, and years later played female lead in Darbar (2020).

3. After playing Rajinikanth’s heroine in Chandramukhi, people started calling her ‘Anni’ which means sister-in-law. For Tamil audience, Rajinikanth is ‘Annan’ or big brother.

4. Super is her only appearance in Kannada films.

5. A poster of her lip lock with her co-star Silambarasan while doing Vallavan appeared on magazines, which received a lot of flakes.

6. She received maximum film awards for her performance as Sita in Sri Rama Rajyam.

7. She earned Nandi Award for Best Actress and the Filmfare Award for Best Telugu Actress for her performance in Sri Rama Rajyam.

8. Raja Rani (2013) won her Tamil Nadu state awards, Filmfare and Vijay Award for Best Actress.

9. She is a recipient of 3 Filmfare awards for best actress in Tamil – Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, Raja Rani and Aramm and won it once for Malayalam – Puthiya Niyamam. The same movie also bagged her the honour, Kerala Film Critics Association Awards.

10. She is a recipient of 7 SIIMA in best actress category, belonging to three languages.

11. She was honoured with Kalaimamani award by government of Tamil Nadu in 2010 for her contributions towards Kollywood.

12. She didn’t accept any remuneration for doing an item song in Malayalam movie, Twenty-Twenty, which starred an ensemble cast. She was a busy star in Tamil movies then.  

13. It was rumoured that she was offered the lead role in Bollywood film, Chennai Express opposite Shah Rukh Khan. However she turned down the offer because Prabhu Deva was the choreographer of the film.

14. She is the original heroine of the movie, Bodyguard, which was later made to different languages including Hindi and all these versions became commercial hits.


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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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