READY TO FACE THE ARC LIGHTS!
RITZ|March 2020
As a child, she was always under the limelight for her amazing performances at the Kerala Youth Festival. It came as no surprise that her very first film offer came from Sibi Malayil for Ishtam opposite Dileep. Though her parents were reluctant initially, with a little coaxing from her uncle, Director K Madhu, they agreed to let her chase her dreams and ever since, there has been no looking back for this beautiful actress. Her memorable performances during the early stages of her career in films like Nandanam, Kalyanaraman and Kunjikoonan made her one of the most sought after actresses in Mollywood. With close to 50 films to her credit in Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada, she is the recipient of two Kerala state film awards. Ritz is in conversation with the South Indian Star, Navya Nair, who after a hiatus of eight years, is making a comeback to Mollywood with her much awaited film, Oruthee!
RIYA SONNY DATSON

You started when you were just 15 years old, was films something that you always wanted to do?

After watching my performance at the youth festivals, I got many offers to act in television serials but my parents were very apprehensive and they were never keen on it. When I insisted, my father promised me that if I got an opportunity as a lead heroine in a movie, then he will think about letting me take it up. That seemed impossible at the time as we lived in a small town in Kerala and for a film director to come and see me perform, and then offer me a role as a heroine was literally unthinkable. There was no social media back then and things seemed too bleak for me. Since I was studious, I focussed on my studies and didn’t think too much about a career in films.

But deep down, I remember while standing at the bus stop or waiting for a cup of coffee at the coffee shop, I would hope that a film director would pass by and notice me. I would fantasise that he would consider me for a role in his film and that I would finally make it to Cinema. I guess such thoughts were always there but I never believed that it would ever happen.

Your performance in your first movie, Ishtam was very natural and you seemed so confident. What are your memories about the movie?

When director Sibi Malayil approached my parents for the movie, they were reluctant initially. My mother was almost in tears and she wouldn’t even let me do the screen test. But my uncle, Director K Madhu eventually convinced my father to give it a try. We had three shooting schedules and the first one was in Trivandrum, immediately after my tenth exam and I was very conscious. But after every schedule, I was getting more confident and even my director noticed the change. I remember there was a lot of delay in the film’s release and my friends used to tease me asking if I was really the heroine in a film. Soon, my tenth standard results were out and I decided to pursue science and math as a major as I wanted to pursue medicine after school. Once I started school, the trailer of Ishtam was launched which happened to be inspired by a Bollywood film. It became a rage and finally, my classmates and friends were convinced that I was an actor. But even before the release of Ishtam, I started acting in my second film opposite Dileep and it was during its shoot that ‘Ishtam’ released. Immediately after that ‘Nandanam’ happened and then there was no looking back.

How was your first experience as a heroine? It was very uncomfortable as I was

supposed to be playing the role of a modern girl who wears jeans, tube top, jacket, goggles and heels! I was not used to such dressing and it was extremely difficult for me but somehow I was able to pull it off! I had to cut my hair for the role which was also a big disappointment but then I just went with the flow. I was excited to be a part of the film.

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