Diana Mariam Kurien, popularly known by her stage name Nayanthara (Malayalam: നയന് താര), is a South Indian actress, who has acted in many Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu movies. After several commercial successes such as Chandramukhi, Ghajini, Billa and Yaaradi Nee Mohini, Nayanthara has established herself as one of the most promising, sought-after actresses of South India.
Nayanthara was born into a Orthodox Syrian Christian family, in Tiruvalla, Pathanamthitta District, Kerala.
She did her schooling at various parts of India (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), as her father was an Air Force Official. She joined Balikamadom High School, Thiruvalla for +2, then joined Marthoma college in Thiruvalla for her Bachelor’s degree (English Literature).
Nayan Tara who was Diana Mariyam Kurien then was chosen 1st runner up in Best model Kerala 2003 which was conducted by Thrissur Advertising Club. This gave her few opportunities in modelling for adverisements. While at college, she was spotted by director Satyan Anthikkad and cast opposite Jayaram in Mansinakkare.
Afterwards, she co-starred alongside Mohanlal in Naatturajaavu and in Fazil’s Vismayathumbathu. She was also cast with Mammootty in Thaskaraveeran (Dubbed into Tamil as Yuvaraj) and Raapakal.
She has also starred in several Tamil and Telugu movies. She was cast opposite Sarath Kumar in Ayya and with Rajnikanth in Chandramukhi. Her later films are Vallavan (Tamil), Gajini (Tamil), Yogi (Telugu) etc. flopped except Ghajini. She regained her throne in Kollywood through Billa in 2007. Her next movie Yaaradi Nee Mohini was a stupendous success.
Nayantara is very generous person, who has contributed to several causes. While working with Rajini, who is known for giving away gifts such as chains to people on the sets to celebrate a movie’s success or to reward his coworkers, she became intrigued by his kind gestures. Inspired by this, she also started to reward her co-workers in her other movies by giving away gifts such as bicycles.
She is a down to earth and a darling among technicians for the exemplary camaraderie she exhibits with them. During shoots Nayan always stays at the floor, unlike other stars, who shut themselves up in the vanity vans. She contributed INR 5,00,000 (5 lakhs) to TN Chief Minister as relief aid for displaced Sri Lankan Tamils, at a celebrity fast arranged in solidarity with the Tamils of Sri Lanka. Her donation was the heftiest sum given by an actress, this despite the fact that Nayanthara is not a Tamil herself.
Nayantara created headlines when publicity posters of her movie Vallavan sprung up around Chennai showing her Vallavan co-star, Silambarasan and her kissing, who she was rumoured as involved with at the time. However, the pair broke up citing differences soon after the film was released. Further controversy was created when rumours leaked out that the plot of Silambarasan’s film, Kettavan, was based on the couple’s true love story.
Stardom and success in south (2010-2011)
In 2010, all her releases, which featured her as the female lead, turned out to be commercial successes. She delivered five super hit films in the four Southern languages – Bodyguard (Malayalam), Adurs and Simha (Telugu), Boss Engira Bhaskaran (Tamil) and Super (Kannada). She won the Asianet Award for Best Actress for her performance in Bodyguard. The latter three, in particular, were exceptionally successful, with Simha becoming one of the highest-grossing Telugu films of the year and Boss Engira Bhaskaran releasing to highly positive reviews, and becoming a blockbuster.
Upendra’s Super, which marked her debut into the Kannada film industry opened to rave reviews, while her performance was also praised by critics. Her performances in Simha, Boss Engira Bhaskaran and Super eventually fetched her nominations for the Filmfare Best Actress Award in the respective languages. She also starred in Shyamaprasad’s critically acclaimed Malayalam film Elektra. Her performance was well appreciated by critics when it was screened at the International Film Festival of India. The film was also screened at the Dubai International Film Festival.
Her only release in 2011 was the mythological film Sri Rama Rajyam by Bapu, in which she played the role of Sita. She received critical acclaim for her performance in the film with Rediff.com noting that “Nayanthara is the surprise package of the film. As Sita, she too has played the role of her lifetime. She gave a fine understated performance conveying a kaleidoscope of emotions”, while Sify commented “Nayanthara gave a fitting answer to all, unleashing grace and accomplishing the assignment with absolute perfection.”
\Subsequently, she was awarded the Nandi Award for Best Actress and the Filmfare Award for Best Telugu Actress. The film was dubbed in the media as her swan song and considered to be her last release before her marriage as she was reported to quit acting thereafter.
Comeback in 2012 and upcoming project
However, after her break-up with Prabhu Deva, she made a comeback; she began shooting for Krish’s Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum with Rana Daggubati in March 2012, after an 11-months sabbatical. She portrayed the role of a journalist in this movie and her performance was also praised, with a reviewer from Sify citing that “Nayanthara does not play the normal commercial glam-doll for a change and she is good.
As a reporter, she looks good and her chemistry with Rana is perfect”. Her first release in 2013 was Greeku Veerudu alongside Akkineni Nagarjuna. Her performance was also praised, with a reviewer from Sify citing that ”Nayanthara looks beautiful in trendy costumes as well as in designer sarees. Her chemistry with Nagarjuna is equally nice and perfect.
After a long Nagarjuna found his best pair. She is also acting in Valai opposite Ajith Kumar under direction of Vishnuvardhan, Raja Rani opposite Arya and Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal opposite Udhayanidhi Stalin which is directed by S. R. Prabhakaran and Anamika directed by Shekhar Kammula. In 2013, she sign a movie opposite Jayam Ravi direct by Jayam Raja and Aruva opposite Karthi directed by Hari.
Relationships & controversies
While shooting for her Tamil film Vallavan, she was romantically linked with the film’s director and co-actor Silambarasan Rajendar. She initially denied the reports. In November 2006, however, she confirmed that she and Silambarasan had broken up, going on to add that she will not work with him again. During the making, in 2008, and after the release of her film Villu, reports suggested that she was in a relationship with its director Prabhu Deva, with some sources even claiming that both had married secretly in June 2009.
She had tattooed his name on her wrist, and began appearing with him in public, while keeping silence and refusing to comment about the issue, neither denying nor confirming the relationship. In September 2010 then, Prabhu Deva openly confessed his love for Nayantara and further stated that he would marry her soon. In 2012, Nayantara confirmed that she had ended her relationship with Prabhu Deva.