Nithya Menen

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Nithya Menen
Menen in 2023
Born (1988-04-08) 8 April 1988 (age 36)
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Education
Occupations
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active
  • 1998, 2001‍–‍2002, 2006 (child artist);
  • 2008‍–‍present

Nithya Menen[1][2][3] (born 8 April 1988[4]) is an Indian actress and singer who works primarily in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu films. Having worked in more than 50 films, she is acknowledged for her acting versatility.

She appeared first on-screen as a child, when she was ten, in the French-Indian English film, Hanuman (1998), playing the younger sister to Tabu's character. At the age of 17, she appeared in a supporting role in the Kannada film 7 O' Clock, which was released in 2006.

She started her film career by playing the lead role in the Malayalam film Aakasha Gopuram, which was released in 2008. Her debut in leading roles in Telugu and Tamil films were Ala Modalaindi (2011) and Nootrenbadhu (2011). Her Hindi debut was Mission Mangal (2019).

Early life[edit]

Nithya Menen was born on 8 April 1988 in Bangalore to Malayali parents settled in Karnataka.[5] She was educated at Poorna Prajna School and Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.[6]

She has said that she initially wished to become a pilot,[7][8] but ultimately found pilot unappealing, so she pivoted to filmmaking,[8][9][10] and enrolled in a cinematography course at the Film and Television Institute of India at Pune. During the school's entrance exam, she met B. V. Nandini Reddy, who convinced Menen to take up acting.[8] Nithya is a polyglot and can speak six languages including Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and English.[11][12][13]

Career[edit]

Child artist (1998, 2001–2002, 2006)[edit]

In 1998, Menen appeared first on-screen as a child in a French-Indian English film named Hanuman (1998)[14], at the age of 10, playing younger sister to Tabu's character. She also was a part of the Hindi-language soap opera Choti Maa – Ek Anokha Bandhan.[15] At the age of 17, she played a supporting role in the Kannada film 7 O' Clock (2006).[16]

Career debut (2008–2010)[edit]

The 2008 off-beat film Aakasha Gopuram, directed by K. P. Kumaran, marked her film career in Malayalam in a leading role, in which she was paired with Mohanlal. She was in the midst of her 12th class exams when she was offered the role, after Mohanlal had spotted her on the front cover of a tourism magazine, Stark World Kerala.[1][7] Her performance was well received, with critics writing that she shows "sparkle in her debut venture" and "makes her entry in an impressive role",[17][18] though the film was a financial failure.[17][18]

She next made a comeback into Kannada films with the film Josh in 2009. The film received rave reviews,[19][20] and became a commercial success as well, with her performance garnering her a nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category at the 57th Filmfare Awards South. The same year she appeared in Vellathooval, Angel John and Kerala Cafe. She received positive reviews for the lattermost.[21] In 2010, she starred in the Malayalam films, Anwar and Apoorvaragam where she plays Nancy, a young girl who gets involved with two male students (Nishan and Asif Ali) who are later discovered to be con-artists. The film received mixed to negative reviews, but became a hit at the box office.[22][23]

Telugu debut and breakthrough (2011–2012)[edit]

Menen in 2011

Menen's career marked a turning point in 2011, with the romantic comedy Ala Modalaindi, which was her maiden Telugu venture.[3] The film opened to favourable reviews by critics and turned out to become a sleeper hit,[24] while Menen received critical praise for her performance. Idlebrain's Jeevi in his review cited that she "epitomized Nitya character with her fabulous performance", "looks beautiful in all kinds of dresses" and was "the best debut in recent years of Telugu cinema after Samantha in YMC",[25] while another critic wrote that she was a "charming find" and "...quite the Genelia replacement that our cinema so badly needs right now."[26] She eventually won the Nandi Award for Best Actress for her performance and received a nomination for Filmfare Award for Best Actress.[27] Further more, she also sang two songs for the soundtrack album of the film, tuned by Kalyani Malik.[28][29] Nandini Reddy, later, went on to describe Menen as "the discovery of the decade".[24]

Following Ala Modalaindi, she starred in Santosh Sivan's historical fiction Urumi as part of an ensemble cast.[30] She portrayed a Chirakkal princess named Bala, playing the love interest of Prabhu Deva's character,[30] which gained positive remarks, with a Sify review claiming that she "looks pretty and is a scene stealer".[31] Menen quoted that much of her character was based on "Santosh's perception of who I am", with Sivan stating that he had written that role for her and that only she could play it. She received a nomination for Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 59th Filmfare Awards South[30] She next appeared in ad-filmmaker Jayendra's bilingual venture Nootrenbadhu, which was made and released in Tamil and Telugu (as 180), in which she played a photo journalist named Vidya.[32] She described the character as "bubbly, full of life, nosey, wide-eyed and innocent in life" and to be similar to herself.[32] Later the year, she was seen in Sibi Malayil's Violin in Malayalam and the Gautham Vasudev Menon-produced Veppam in Tamil. She also featured in V. K. Prakash's Kannada anthology film Aidondla Aidu where she played a young bride who is obsessed with making payasam for her new husband much to his chagrin. She had sung and also choreographed one of the songs, titled "Payasa".[33]

Menen's first 2012 release was the Telugu romance film Ishq with Nitin Reddy. She received the CineMAA Award for Best Actress (jury) while receiving best actress nomination at the same event and at the SIIMA Awards. She was later seen in five Malayalam films: Karmayogi, V. K. Prakash's Malayalam adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet co-starring Indrajith Sukumaran, Poppins, the Malayalam remake of Aidondla Aidu in which she reprised her role from the original and sang the Malayalam version of "Payasa", T. K. Rajeev Kumar's Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty, in which she portrayed a village woman whose daily life is filmed and broadcast as a reality show for a month,[34] Amal Neerad's Bachelor Party in which she played Asif Ali's wife and young mother to their baby and Ustad Hotel directed by Anwar Rasheed where she paired up for the first time with Dulquer Salmaan.[35]

Further work and continuous success (2013–2015)[edit]

In 2013, she starred in three Telugu and one Kannada film. She first appeared in Okkadine with Nara Rohit and in Jabardasth with Siddharth and Samantha. Menen received praises for playing the titular role of a physically challenged girl in Mynaa. The film was successful and completed 100 days in many centers across Karnataka. Her performance was well praised by the critics. She also sang the female version of "Modele Maleyante" which was well received.[36]

Menen won rave reviews and her first Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu for playing a character with two shades in Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde opposite Nithin.[37][38] It was a huge box office success. Times of India noted, "Nithya Menen takes the honors as far as acting goes. She has the author backed role and overshadows everyone else." 123telugu termed her "the undisputed star of the film" and added that she "shines through brilliantly and her performance is a treat to watch".[39] In 2014, she played the lead in Malini 22 Palayamkottai.[40] Menen then played a cameo in the successful film Bangalore Days alongside Fahadh Faasil.[41] Sify wrote, "Nithya Menen has a limited role to play, but she suit her role perfectly."[42]

Menen starred in numerous films which gave her more critical and commercial recognition. In her first film of the year, she appeared opposite Sharwanand for, Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju.[43] She played a young Muslim student in love with a Hindu. She won the Filmfare Best Actress Critics – Telugu and Nandi Special Jury Award, for her performance.[44] With this Menen became the first Telugu actress ever to win Critics Award & the Best Actress Award at Filmfare. News18 noted, "Nithya changed looks and body language in each stage is impressive. She starts as a girl and ends as a woman. Her performance is worth commending."[45] She then appeared in JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkai and S/O Satyamurthy directed by Trivikram Srinivas. Menen then played opposite Dulquer Salmaan in 100 Days of Love. The New Indian Express said she gave a "decent performance".[46] All the three films were box office success.[47]

Menen achieved further acclaim with three more films in 2015. She played a crippled girl alongside Raghava Lawrence in his directorial Kanchana 2, a successful film. The critics termed her performance "crucial" and "effective".[48] Menen received immense praises for the a romantic film O Kadhal Kanmani, directed by Mani Ratnam.[49] She played an architectural student Tara, opposite Dulquer Salmaan. Dulquer and Menen's on-screen chemistry was praised and she garnered her first Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil nomination.[50] The film became a financial success at the box office. Firstpost noted, " Menen is an exceptional actor and has delivered a very realistic performance." It further praised her chemistry with Salmaan and added, "They're perfect as the couple and the credit goes to the director for capturing the chemistry between them in simple ways."[51][52] She played princess Muktamba in Rudhramadevi with Anushka Shetty, her final film of the year.[53] The Hindu stated, "Nithya Menen shows that she can leave an imprint on any character she plays. She is an endearing addition to this film."[54]

Established actress and acclaim (2016–2021)[edit]

By 2016, Menen established herself as a leading actress. She starred in three Tamil films in 2016.[55] Beginning the year was 24 where she was paired opposite Suriya for the first time. The film was opened to high critical acclaim, Deccan Chronicle wrote, "Nithya Menen shines in her role."[56] Her screen presence and garnered her a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress – Tamil nomination.[57] She played the main heroine in K. S. Ravikumar's bilingual project titled Kotigobba 2 opposite Sudeep.[58] Towards the end of the year, she starred alongside Vikram in science-fiction thriller Iru Mugan and received praises for her limited role.[59][60] In Telugu, she starred in two films, Okka Ammayi Thappa opposite Sundeep Kishan and Janatha Garage opposite Jr. NTR.[61] All of her films proved commercial success.[62]

Her only release in 2017 was the Tamil film Mersal opposite Vijay, where she was praised for her role as a tough yet supportive wife, Firstpost noted, "Among the three actresses, it is Nithya Menen who makes an impression with her competent performance."[63] The film garnered her a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress – Tamil at 65th Filmfare Awards South and was a huge box office success.[64][65] She had two Telugu films in 2018. Menen played a lesbian psychiatrist in Awe, that received highly positive reviews. She became the first mainstream South Indian actress to play an LGBTQ character.[66] The Hindu stated that Menen "shine through", giving her all to character that "don't come by often".[67] She next had a cameo in Geetha Govindam.[68]

Menen played actress Savitri in her first film of 2019, NTR: Kathanayakudu.[69] She reunited with V. K. Prakash in the experimental film Praana which also marks her comeback to Malayalam industry after 2015. She played an English writer who battles intolerance in society and is the sole actor in the film.[70] The News Minute praised the actor and said, "Nithya displays the right emotions as Thara. Remember it's just her, and one person makes so much of an impact. Nithya carries it off all so effortlessly."[71] Menen made her Hindi film debut with the highly successful film Mission Mangal, playing a satellite engineer.[72] Bollywood Hungama noted that Menen has a smaller role but "it serves as a great debut".[73] NDTV said that as the staid and steady Varsha Pillai, Nithya Menen is "delightfully good".[74]

In 2020, Menen starred alongside Udhayanidhi Stalin in Mysskin's Psycho, where she played Kamala Das, a foul-mouthed quadriplegic ex-police officer.[75] The same year, she made her OTT debut in the Amazon Prime series Breathe: Into the Shadows alongside Abhishek Bachchan and Amit Sadh, for which she received her first nomination for 'Best Actor, Series (Female): Drama' at the Filmfare OTT Awards.[76]

Menen starred in three Telugu films in 2021. She played a spirit named Maya in Ninnila Ninnila with Ashok Selvan and Ritu Varma.[77] Firstpost wrote, "The big surprise in the film is Nithya whose impishness in the story is unlike anything else that she has portrayed over the years, and her on-screen chemistry with Selvan is a delight."[78] Her next film Skylab, marked her first film as a producer.[79] She played a singer in her year's final film Gamanam.[80]

Expansion and recent work (2022–present)[edit]

Menen had four film and two web releases in 2022. She starred in Bheemla Nayak opposite Pawan Kalyan and Rana Daggubati, the film was a box office success.[81] Cinema Express said, "Nithya Menen's Suguna, surprisingly gets a few memorable moments, and she brings a certain level of warmness to Bheemla whenever she is on screen."[82] She appeared in the series Modern Love Hyderabad, where NDTV termed her performance "luminous".[83][84] Next she played an unknown lady in 19(1)(a) with Vijay Sethupathi.[85] After this she reprised her role in the second season of Breathe: Into the Shadows.[86]

Menen received rave reviews for the romantic drama Thiruchitrambalam opposite Dhanush as his childhood best friend.[87] It became a critical and commercial success.[88] While Hindustan Times noted, "Nithya Menen has always shied away from playing the quintessential heroine. She's phenomenal in the film, playing a key character that she nails to perfection." India Today wrote, "If you give Nithya Menen a meaty character, everyone else can sit back and admire her living the role with full of zest."[89][90] Menen played a pregnant women in her final film of the year, Wonder Women.[91]

Menen appeared in Kolaambi, her first film of 2023, which she termed among her "all time favourite".[92] She will next appear in the series Master Peace and Kumari Srimathi.[93]

Artistry and media image[edit]

Menen at 65th Filmfare Awards South in 2017

Ankur Pathak of HuffPost said that her filmography is "filled with experiments" and noted, "The actor has taken risks throughout her career. Menen has ensured that she's unforgettable even in cameos."[94] Sangeetha Devi Dundoo of The Hindu said that she shows "shown a natural flair for acting" and noted that she has worked in a variety of genres from – breezy romance to period drama to out-of-the-box projects.[95] Latha Srinivasan of The New Indian Express noted, "Nithya Menen slips into her character's skin with effortless ease."[96] Nibandh Vinod of News18 termed her an "accomplished actress and singer" who has established a career in five industries.[97]

Menen is widely known for her performances in films such as – Kerala Cafe, Ala Modalaindi, 180, Ishq, Ustad Hotel, Malli Malli Idi Raani Roju, O Kadhal Kanmani, Mersal, Awe and Thiruchitrambalam among others.[98] Menen has been placed in Rediff.com's "Top Telugu Actresses". She ranked 3rd in 2011, 5th in 2012, 1st in 2013 and 3rd in 2015.[99][100][101][102] In its "Top Kannada Actresses", she ranked 1st in 2013 and in "Top Tamil Actresses" list, she ranked 5th in 2015.[103][104] Forbes India included Menen in its first ever "Showstoppers – India's Top 50 Outperformers" list.[105] She stood at the 30th place on its most influential stars on Instagram in South cinema for the year 2021 list.[106]

Menen is known as someone who is a very private person. Hemanth Kumar of Firstpost said, "There's always been an air of mystery about Nithya Menen, and when she talks, she's careful about how she articulates her thoughts and ideas. Despite her popularity, the actress is hardly in news."[107] Often compared to late actress Soundarya, Menen takes it as a compliment. "Since Soundarya, perhaps there hasn't been anyone that people could relate to. She was loved and respected," she says.[95] In Hyderabad Times' Most Desirable Woman list, she was placed 19th in 2014 and 15th in 2015.[108][109]

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Key
Denotes films that have not yet been released
List of Nithya Menen film credits
Year Title Role Language Notes Ref.
1998 Hanuman Munna English Child artist
2006 7 O' Clock Anu Kannada Child artist [110]
2008 Aakasha Gopuram Hilda Varghese Malayalam Career debut [111]
2009 Josh Meera Kannada
Vellathooval Jiya George Malayalam [112]
Kerala Cafe Nithya [21]
[113]
Angel John Sofia [114]
2010 Apoorvaragam Nancy
Anwar Asna
2011 Ala Modalaindi Nithya Telugu [27]
Urumi Chirakkal Bala/ Daisy da Cunha[a] Malayalam
[115]
Nootrenbadhu/ 180 D. Vidya Lakshmi Tamil Bilingual film
Telugu
Violin Angel Malayalam [116]
Veppam Revathy Tamil [117]
Aidondla Aidu Gowri Kannada Anthology film
Makaramanju Model Malayalam [118]
2012 Ishq Priya Telugu [119]
Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty Manjula Ayyapan Malayalam
Karmayogi Moonumani
Doctor Innocentanu Anna Special appearance [120]
Bachelor Party Neethu [121]
Ustad Hotel Shahana [122]
Poppins Ammu Anthology film
2013 Okkadine Shailaja Telugu
Jabardasth Saraswati [123]
Myna Myna Kannada [124]
Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde Shravani / Bangaram[a] Telugu [37]
2014 Malini 22 Palayamkottai Malini Tamil [125]
Bangalore Days Natasha Francis Malayalam Cameo [126]
2015 Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju Nazeera Khanum Telugu [127]
JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkai Nithya Tamil Telugu version Rajadhi Raja released in 2016 [128]
100 Days of Love Sheela Malayalam [129]
S/O Satyamurthy Valli Telugu [130]
Kanchana 2 Ganga Tamil [131]
O Kadhal Kanmani Tara Kalingarayar [132]
Rudhramadevi Muktamba Telugu [133]
2016 24 Priya Sethuraman Tamil [134]
Okka Ammayi Thappa Mango / Satyabhama[a] Telugu [135]
Kotigobba 2 / Mudinja Ivana Pudi Subhashini / Shubha Kannada Bilingual film [136]
Tamil
Janatha Garage Anu Telugu [137]
Iru Mugan Ayushi Tamil [59]
2017 Mersal Aishwarya Vetrimaaran [138]
2018 Awe Krishnaveni Telugu [139]
Geetha Govindam Nithya Special appearance [140]
2019 NTR: Kathanayakudu Savitri Special appearance [69]
Praana Tara Anuradha Malayalam Multilingual film [141]
Mission Mangal Varsha Pillai Hindi [142]
2020 Psycho Kamala Das IPS Tamil [143]
Color of a Nation Pregnant woman Telugu Short film [144]
2021 Ninnila Ninnila Maya [145]
Gamanam Shailaputri Devi Anthology film; cameo [146]
Skylab Gouri Venkataraju Also producer [147]
2022 Bheemla Nayak Suguna Nayak [148]
19(1)(a) Penkutty Malayalam [149]
Thiruchitrambalam Shobana Tamil [150]
Wonder Women Nora Joseph English [151]
2023 Kolaambi Arundhathi Malayalam [92]
2024 Raayan TBA Tamil Post-production [152][153]

Television[edit]

List of Nithya Menen television credits
Year Title Role Language Notes Ref.
2001–2002 Chhoti Maa...Ek Anokha Bandhan Young Koyna Hindi Child artist
2022 Telugu Indian Idol Judge Telugu [154]

Web series[edit]

List of Nithya Menen web series credits
Year Title Role Language Network Notes Ref.
2020–2022 Breathe: Into the Shadows Abha Sabarwal Hindi Amazon Prime Video seasons 1–2 [155][156]
2022 Modern Love Hyderabad Noori Hussain Telugu Under Segment "My Unlikely Pandemic Dream Partner"
2023 Kumari Srimathi Itikelipudi Kumari Srimathi
Masterpeace Riya Kurian Malayalam Disney+Hotstar [93]

Music videos[edit]

List of Nithya Menen music video credits
Year Song Language Singer(s) Notes
2022 Thaniye/Tanha Malayalam/Hindi Siddharth Menon, Nithya Menen on YouTube[citation needed]

Voice artist[edit]

List of Nithya Menen film voice artist credits
Year Title Role Language Notes
2013 Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde Shruti Telugu
2019 Frozen 2 Elsa Telugu

Discography[edit]

List of Nithya Menen musical credits
Year Song Title Language Composer Notes Ref.
2010 "Payasa" Aidondla Aidu Kannada Abhijit-Joe
2011 "Edo Anukunte" Ala Modalaindi Telugu Kalyani Malik
"Ammammo Ammo"
2012 "Oh Priya Priya" Ishq Telugu Anoop Rubens
"Payasam" Poppins Malayalam Ratheesh Vegha
2013 "Arere Arere" Jabardasth Telugu S. Thaman
"Doore Doore Neengi" Natholi Oru Cheria Meenalla Malayalam Abhijith
"Modala Maleyante" Myna Kannada Jassie Gift Solo singer
"O Premada Poojari" Duet with Shreya Ghoshal
"Thu Hi Rey" Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde Telugu Anoop Rubens
"Hi My Name is Malini" Malini 22 Palayamkottai Tamil Arvind & Shankar with Maalavika Manoj, Kovai Sarala, Vidyullekha Raman, Harishitha Krishnan
"Kanneer Thulilye (Duet)"
"Madharthamma (Immigrant Mix)"
"Hi my name is malini" Ghatana (D) Telugu
"Navve Kaluva (Duet)"
"Yennali (Immigrant Mix)"
2015 "Paalnilaa: Lets Do the Dandiya" Rockstar Malayalam Prashant Pillai
2016 "Laalijo" 24 (D) Telugu A. R. Rahman
"Hrudayam Kannulatho" 100 Days of Love (D) Telugu Govind Menon [157]
2018 "Va Va Vo" Mohanlal Malayalam Tony Joseph Pallivathukal
2021 "Thiruppavai" Margazhi Thingal Tamil Ravi G
2022 "Thaniye" Thaniye Malayalam Sidharth Menon Music video
2022 "Thanha" Thanha Hindi

Accolades[edit]

List of awards and nominations received by Nithya Menen
Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2013 CineMAA Awards Best Actress – Critics Ishq Won [158]
2010 Filmfare Awards South Best Supporting Actress – Kannada Josh Nominated [citation needed]
2012 Best Supporting Actress – Malayalam Urumi Nominated [159]
Best Actress – Telugu Ala Modalaindi Nominated
Best Female Playback Singer – Telugu (for "Ammammo Ammo") Nominated
2014 Best Actress – Kannada Myna Nominated [160]
Best Actress – Telugu Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde Won
2016 Best Actress – Tamil O Kadhal Kanmani Nominated [161]
Best Actress – Telugu Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju Nominated
Best Actress Critics – Telugu Won
2017 Best Supporting Actress – Tamil 24 Nominated [162]
2018 Mersal Won [163]
2020 Filmfare OTT Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series – Female Breathe: Into the Shadows Nominated [164]
2013 Hyderabad Times of India Film Awards Best Actor – Female Ishq Won [165]
2016 IIFA Utsavam Best Actress – Telugu Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju Nominated [166]
Best Supporting Actress – Tamil Kanchana 2 Nominated [167]
2017 Best Supporting Actress – Telugu Rudhramadevi Nominated [168]
2011 Nandi Awards Best Actress Ala Modalaindi Won [169]
2016 Special Jury Award Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju Won [170]
2012 South Indian International Movie Awards Best Female Debut – Telugu Ala Modalaindi Nominated [171]
Best Female Playback Singer – Telugu (for "Ammammo Ammo") Nominated
2013 Rising Star of South Indian Cinema – Female Won [172]
2014 Best Actress – Telugu Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde Nominated [173]
2016 Best Actress – Tamil O Kadhal Kanmani Nominated [174]
Best Actress Critics – Tamil Won
Best Actress – Telugu Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Tamil Kanchana 2 Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Telugu Rudramadevi Nominated
2018 Best Actress – Tamil Mersal Nominated [175]
2023 Thiruchitrambalam Nominated [176]
Best Actress – Telugu Bheemla Nayak
2013 Vanitha Film Awards Best Star Pair (With Dulquer Salmaan) Ustad Hotel Won [177]
2012 Vijay Awards Best Actress Nootrenbandhu Nominated [178]
2015 Malini 22 Palayamkottai Nominated [179]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Nithya Menen played a single character with two or more names.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]