Saying no to typecasting: Versatile actor Aishwarya Rajesh is one to watch out for

Aishwarya shot to fame with her performance as a slumdweller and mother of two young kids in the critically acclaimed ‘Kaaka Muttai’.
Saying no to typecasting: Versatile actor Aishwarya Rajesh is one to watch out for
Saying no to typecasting: Versatile actor Aishwarya Rajesh is one to watch out for
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She first attracted attention in the inane slapstick comedy show Asathapovadu Yaru on Sun TV but it was her dancing abilities showcased in the reality show Maanada Mayilada, which she won, that brought her film offers. Some of her earlier films, like Avargalum Ivargalum, Rummy and Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum, were washouts at the box office. It was the Manikandan directed Kaaka Muttai that did the star turn for the young actor Aishwarya Rajesh, whose performance as a slumdweller and mother of two young kids was widely appreciated.

Not many actors eyeing a foothold in cinema would have jumped at the opportunity to play a young mother at such an early stage in their career. The role, entirely shorn of glamour, had a lot of potential. Shot almost entirely in the slums of Chennai, Kaaka Muttai’s theme centred around two slum kids yearning for the exotic pizza. Aishwarya, as their mother who is trying to make ends meet, was cast in the pivotal role and did not disappoint. The film picked up a National Award and gained international recognition, and the actor too won accolades and awards for her intense portrayal.

The box office success of Kaaka Muttai, however, did little to advance her career; Aishwarya had to bide her time and it was after a yearlong wait that offers came her way. Her keenness to avoid typecasting cost her a few films but the actor, who prefers an ideal mix of glamour and intense roles, caught the eye of Malayalam filmmakers. Her films, Jomonte Suvisheshangal with Dulquer Salman and Sakhavu with the current Mallu heartthrob Nivin Pauly, featured her in roles that she could do full justice to. In Jomonte, veteran director Sathyan Anthikkad cast Aishwarya in the role of a Tamil girl, Vaidehi. Though the film was largely hero-centric, with old-timer Mukesh also playing a major role, the actor did manage to hold her own in the limited scenes allotted to her. As far as Sakhavu was concerned, it was a Nivin Pauly show all the way as he hogged most of the frames, but Aishwarya as Sakhavu (comrade) Janaki also impressed.

Evidently the actor opted to sign these films with the intention of widening her footprint in regional cinema, but her portrayals were noted and there is no reason why Mollywood should not offer her more and better roles in the days ahead. Aishwarya also landed a role in the 2017 Hindi film Daddy, loosely based on the life of jailed gangster Arun Gawli (played by Arjun Rampal). She was cast in a significant role, that of Asha Gawli, Gawli’s wife, and the actor had given it her best but the film nosedived at the box office and was soon forgotten.

In recent times, Aishwarya was seen in a number of films like Saamy 2, the sequel to Saamy starring Vikram and directed by Hari, and the Mani Ratnam directed Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, a multi-starrer, apart from Vetrimaaran’s Vada Chennai in which she was cast in a fiery role mouthing the coarse dialect of the milieu in which the film was set.

Saamy 2 was clearly a film that Aishwarya should not have touched with a barge pole. Trisha, who had starred in the 2003 roaring hit Saamy, turned down the role of Saamy’s wife without a second thought as it was purely ornamental and there was little in the script for an actor with calibre. Aishwarya also had to contend with another heroine, Keerthy Suresh. As expected, the sequel, hardly a patch on the original, sank without a trace at the box office.

Mani’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, with its distinct shades of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather, was a celebration of male machismo with a star cast comprising Arvind Swamy, Vijay Sethupathy, Simbu and Arun Vijay. As could only be expected, the leading ladies were given short shrift and apart from Jyothika the others, including Aishwarya Rajesh, Aditi Rao Hydari and newcomer Dayana Erappa, were cast in insignificant roles.

In Vada Chennai, however, it was a totally different story altogether. The Vetrimaaran film, conceived well over a decade ago, finally hit the screens recently with Dhanush in the lead role of Anbu and Aishwarya as his love interest, Padma. The grapevine has it that heroines who were considered for the role ahead of Aishwarya had opted out as the character had to mouth a lot of cuss words. But Aishwarya had no hang-ups about what the role required and matched an award-winning actor like Dhanush stride for stride. The film, which also fared well at the box office, is likely to provide a distinct fillip to her career as well.

Aishwarya Rajesh has a number of projects in her kitty, including Dhruva Natchathiram with Vikram that is directed by Gautam Menon, debutant Arun Raja Kamaraj’s Kana that is produced by actor Sivakarthikeyan, fantasy film Idhu Vedhalam Sollum Kadhai, and Idam Porul Yaeval directed by Seenu Ramswamy in which she will be seen with her Rummy and Dharmadurai co-star Vijay Sethupathy. She might also be a part of Aramm director Gopi Nainar’s next film and has also reportedly been offered a Telugu film with Vijay Deverakonda who tasted massive success with his Arjun Reddy. Aishwarya’s versatility in handling a wide gamut of roles, from glamour to feisty ones, have ensured her success. All she has to do now is to pick the right kind of films and avoid the flippant and inconsequential roles where she is required only as a prop.

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