Cinema
Nithya has always looked the part she’s playing, whether that’s a princess from ancient times or a political leader in ours.
Facebook/Nithya Menen

Nithya Menen as Jayalalithaa in the upcoming biopic on the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has got everyone raving about the resemblance. Directed by A Priyadarshini, The Iron Lady is among other films planned on Jayalalithaa’s eventful and often tragic life.

While the others are yet to announce the actor who will play Jayalalithaa, Nithya’s presence in this project alone is enough to make it the most anticipated among the biopics. The first look poster was unveiled on Wednesday to coincide with Jayalalithaa's death anniversary.

The south Indian film industry has several talented women actors but there are few who can compete with Nithya when it comes to dedication to her craft. A few days ago, Nithya was seen as Savitri in the NTR biopic poster and then too, several people commented on how effortlessly she looked like the former.

Nithya’s ability to give every role she plays her 100% has earned her the tag of a ‘single-take’ performer. She has consistently played substantial roles even in the masala movie format – for instance, in Mersal, last year’s Deepavali release, the flashback sequence was anchored by Nithya’s character although it was a Vijay film.

In films where she has played a small role, she has ensured that she’s remembered for it – like Muktamba in Anushka Shetty’s Rudhramadevi, the vivacious Natasha from Bangalore Days or the lullaby singing (‘Laalijo’) Priya from 24.

Here’s a list of must-watch Nithya Menen films for those who can’t get enough of her:

Ala ModalaindiThough Nithya made her debut as a child actor and earned favourable reviews for her performances, it is this Telugu film, directed by Nandini Reddy, that made people sit up and take notice. The romantic comedy, which released in 2011, is the remake of a Bengali film titled Olpo Olpo Premer Golpo and had Nani playing the male lead. The film had plenty of situational comedy and Nithya’s performance as a spirited young woman who falls in and out of love gave her the opportunity to prove her comic timing.

Urumi: Nithya played Chirakkal Bala in this historical Malayalam drama along with Prithviraj, Genelia and Prabhu Deva. Tabu, Arya and Vidya Balan also featured in the film in extended cameos. Directed by Santosh Sivan, the film was about the Chirakkal Royal House and the challenges they face. Nithya played princess Bala in the film, exuding a seductive beauty that floored critics and audiences alike.

MynaNithya played Myna, a young woman with disability, in this Kannada film. The tragic love story follows the trajectory of a young couple in love and what happens when one of them inadvertently commits a murder. The film won critical acclaim and went on to do well at the box office, too.

IshqDirected by Vikram Kumar, Nithya played Priya in this romantic drama with many twists and turns. Although the plot isn’t particularly original and verges on melodrama at times, the performances of the lead pair – Nithya and Nithiin – ensured that the film worked, and it went on to become a huge hit. The two of them also went on to do another romance film together – Gunde Jaari Gallanthayinde – that also did well at the box office.

Ustad HotelIn this Anwar Rasheed film, Nithya played Shahana, an ambitious Muslim woman from a conservative family. With her sparkling eyes and screen presence, Nithya elevated the film every time she appeared in the frame. The film had Dulquer Salmaan playing the male lead.

OK KanmaniIf this lightweight Tamil romance from Mani Ratnam worked, the credit must go to its lead pair – Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen once again. The film, which is about a young couple in a live-in relationship, drew criticism for its sketchy plot but the chemistry between Dulquer and Nithya still makes it one of the most memorable romcoms in Tamil cinema. Nithya’s perfect lip movements for the rendering of a Carnatic song in one of the scenes was also appreciated by many. Dulquer and Nithya also acted together in another romance film, 100 Days of Love.

AweIn this unpredictable multi-starrer directed by Telugu filmmaker Prasanth Varma, Nithya played Krishna, a lesbian woman. With her striking haircut and comic timing, she created a big impact in the film although her role, like everyone else’s, was limited to one story among the many.

Other than the two biopics, Nithya will soon be seen in Pranaa where she is the only actor in the entire film! And not just that, the film is being made in all four south Indian languages.