Nayanthara, Anushka, or Hansika: Who should play the lead role in 'Sanghamitra'?

With Shruti Hassan out who should play Sanghamitra, the legendary princess who became a Buddhist nun?
Nayanthara, Anushka, or Hansika: Who should play the lead role in 'Sanghamitra'?
Nayanthara, Anushka, or Hansika: Who should play the lead role in 'Sanghamitra'?
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Sundar C's ambitious Sanghamitra project is without a star. The first look poster was unveiled in Cannes but unfortunately, the team had a fall out with Shruti Haasan, who was supposed to play the lead role.

If the film is indeed based on the historical figure Sanghamitra or Sanghamitta, the eldest daughter of King Ashoka and Queen Devi, it will mean exploring new territory for Tamil cinema which hasn't delved into history much in recent times.

Sanghamitra, along with her brother Mahinda, is credited with spreading Buddhism outside India. Her memory is still celebrated in Sri Lanka every December on a full moon night, to honour the day when she planted a sapling of the Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura.

The first look poster had Shruti Haasan seated on a horse and wielding a sword. King Ashoka, it must be noted, turned to Buddhism after the Kalinga war which led to immense bloodshed. The remorseful king then came to value peace.

The role of Sanghamitra is likely to be a complex one, requiring an actor who can pull off playing a princess and the Buddhist nun that Sanghamitra became. Speculation is rife about who will bag the role after Shruti declined to be part of the project, with some saying that Hansika is being considered.

Hansika, so far, has mostly played the "innocent" and "bubbly" girl - one is not sure if she will make for a convincing Sanghamitra at all. Tamil cinema typically casts women for their fair skin more than their capability to act. It would be a pity indeed if the actor performing the title role of the film is miscast.

Here's our list for who'd make a convincing Sanghamitra:

Anushka Shetty: The actor is supposedly taking a break after she completes Bhagmati but you can't do better than Anushka when it comes to playing a powerful, historical character. Anushka has been impressive in films like Rudramadevi and Baahubali - matching elegance with a majestic presence. Anushka also has the right frame to pull off fight sequences convincingly. She's equally capable of acting in de-glamourised roles, as we saw in Baahubali (where she played the enslaved queen) and Inji Iduppazhagi.

Nayanthara: Hailed as Tamil cinema's female superstar, Nayanthara appears to be keen to act in films that are centered around her. Like Anushka, she too is capable of slipping into a regal bearing and proved that she could wield a sword in Kaashmora. Nayanthara is immensely popular and the audience will have no problems in buying her role as a beloved princess.

Dhansika: The Kabali girl who has proved her mettle once again in Uru, is an interesting actor who can perform well in action sequences and emotional scenes. Dhansika is nowhere near Anushka or Nayanthara in popularity, but she is steadily proving herself to be a versatile performer who can slip into characters convincingly.

Anjali: A natural before the camera, Anjali has executed quite a few meaty roles with elan. She's one of the few women actors in Tamil cinema who look the part and aren't around only because of "glamour". Though she has time and again proved to be a good actor, she's yet to get a big budget film. Sanghamitra could be the break she deserves.

Sai Pallavi: Buddhist nuns shave their head and it would indeed break innumerable hearts if Sai Pallavi had to chop off her beautiful tresses but otherwise, the lithe and agile actor who can be fierce if she so desires would make for an interesting Sanghamitra. Sai Pallavi has had only two releases so far, both of them in Malayalam, but she has a large fanbase across states.

Parvathy: The Malayalam actor has done Tamil films before and has a chameleon-like ability to transform herself into any character that she plays. If the Sanghamitra script has a lengthy character arc which requires the actor to look distinct at different stages, Parvathy would be most suitable. She's also someone with a commanding screen presence - the recent Take Off  proved that she's entirely capable of carrying a film on her shoulders.

Produced by N Ramasamy and Hema Rukmani, Sanghamitra will have music by AR Rahman. Here's hoping that the makers keep in mind the histrionic talent and suitability of the woman actor in mind when casting for the film instead of disappointing audiences by going for the most "glamorous" in the queue.

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