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{mosimage}Preetha was the first person to whom I commented about the new girl which Kerala media was raving as next Manju Warrier, the latest sensation Navya Nair. This happened about five years back at the time of her debut "Ishtam". It was the time the throne of Manju Warrier was vacant. Samyukta Varma was rapidly making strides yet that one milestone role was eluding her. The school girl Navya was refreshing but I said to Preetha that this girl is too ordinary looking and not with that magnetic appeal like Manju Warrier. An year later I saw the promos of "Nandhanam" and thought that this girl has something in her. Unfortunately "Nandhanam" despite carrying rave reviews was stuck in cans due to some problems. When finally "Nandhanam" was released, it was lapped up by the critics and masses instantly and I was clean bowled by the sweeping talent of Navya Nair.

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{mosimage}Navya Nair, whose real name is Dhanya, was a relative of renowned Malayalam director K. Madhu who directed the famous "CBI" series with Mamooty in lead. He had directed Navya in the third series of CBI along with Nandhana. In a Kairalee TV interview she confessed that she was smitten by acting bug ever since she remembers. She used to spend hours before mirror enacting the heroines in the recent hits. By the time she was in eighth standard she volunteered for some auidition for TV serials. When her father realised that she is serious about acting, he said that some big director will introduce you, till then you study. He was right when famous Sibi Malayil saw her photo in a magazine cover and launched her in "Ishtam" which was originally written for Manju Warrier. In the photo is Navya Nair performing in the "Kalamandalam" youth festival.

I saw "Ishtam" on Surya TV after many years and I realised why media called her as next Manju Warrier. Even though she was just a 10th std student at that time, she shared the screen space with veterans like Nedumudi Venu & Jayasudha and ofcourse Dileep. Yet the girl stood on her own with the confidence that nobody can say that it was a debutante actress performing the role. It was one of the nearly flawless performances I had ever seen.

{mosimage}Navya Nair was the sweet and pampered princess of Malayalam movies at the time of her debut. She was one of the highest paid actress in Malayalam till recent buch of heroines cropped up. She has the record of giving six consecutive super hits since her debut - Ishtam, Mazhathulli Kilukkam, Kalyanaraman, Nandhanam are few. Coincidentally most of her hits were with Manju Warrier's husband Dileep. I was wondering whether she'll become next Manju Warrier not only on screen but in real life too. Fortunately things didn't happen such way.

{mosimage}Her sensitive portrayal of servant maid Balamani, who falls in love with the apple eye of the family Prithviraj in Ranjith's "Nandhanam" not only brought her accolades, it came with its share of criticisms too that she is blatantly copying Manju Warrier. To an extent it was true. If you close your eyes while watching the movie, you'll feel like Manju Warrier enacting the role. But taking away the credits of her talent is something uncharitable. Navya Nair lost to Konkana Sen Sharma (Mr & Mrs. Iyer) by a marginal vote in National awards that year. Navya was one of the rare cases of young heroines who dub for themselves since her first shot. Infact she started the trend of young heroines dubbing for themselves in Malayalam. Meera Jasmine and Bhavana followed the suit.

{mosimage}Navya Nair moved away from the shadow of Dileep. This time there were strong rumours about her romantic involvement with Prithviraj. Their realistic performance of intimate scenes in "Vellithira" foddered the gossip mills. Around the same time Malayalam cinema witnessed the rise of a talented torpedo - Meera Jasmine. Dileep brought Navya Nair & Meera Jasmine together under the aegis of Kamal in "Gramaphone". The sets of "Gramaphone" proved that two rival actress can never be cordial. Meera Jasmine and Navya Nair, not only were verbally abusing each other, but went to the extent of manhandling. Later when Navya was doing "Ammakilikoodu" with Prithviraj, he was simultaneously doing "Chakram" with Meera Jasmine and the he fell in love with Meera. Result was a cold performance by Navya Nair and Prithviraj where the chemistry of "Nandhanam & Vellithira" was absolutely missing. "Ammakilikoodu" happened to be the last movie of Prithiviraj & Navya Nair as lead pair.

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Then came the turbulent phase in Navya's career. Dileep moved to new heroines and Navya's movies with Kunchacko Boban and Jayasurya were flopping left right and center. The actress was charged with accusations on acting high handedly and rude on the sets. She cursed her producer (Sarkar Dada with Jayaram) that the movie should flop because he had got her voice dubbed by Sreeja. She was poked fun by media for giving her movies' VCDs to Salman Khan suggesting a role at his movies. By the same time Navya's arch rival Meera became a rage in South. Prakashraj came to Navya's rescue by offering her the lead role in his Tamil production "Azhagiya Theeye.."

{mosimage}"Azhagiya Theeye..." hit the bulls eye but Navya had to be content enough with good name alone. Thangar Bacchan after rejected by Meera Jasmine and Sadha, came to Navya Nair with the script of "Chidambarathil Oru Appasamy", plagarised version of malayalam hit "Chinthavistyaya Shyamala" for the role Tamil actress Sangeetha had immortalised on screen. Opportunities come with obstacles and Navya Nair utilised it fully. The controversy during the end of the shoot ensured the visibility of the movie. Navya Nair maintained a dignified silence and her performance as a normal Chidambaram girl "Thenmozhi" won accolades with masses.

Navya was the answer of all Tamil director's prayers who need a dependable actress with an average looking personality that shouldn't interfere with the performance. "Vedham Puthidhu" Kannan's "Amirtham" and Kalaignar's "Paasakiligal" proved that Navya is not a flash in pan, but a force to reckon with. Now Navya is settling scores with Meera Jasmine in Tamil soil. She snatched the role previously offered to Meera Jasmine, under her nose in TV Chandra's "Aadum Kootthu" with Cheran in lead. Impressed by her performance Cheran has offered her his next movie "Maaya Kannadi". This is Cheran's third tryst with Malayalam heroines after Gopika and Padma Priya.

{mosimage}At the time all Malayalam imports are turning into bimbettes, Navya Nair sheerly depends on her talent. She is well aware that she is ordinary looking and since she had seen the zenith of career in Malayalam, she is balanced and wants to focus on characters that offer her scope for performing. She is a prime contender in the awards circle as she completes her performances with her own voice. After Thangar Bacchan turned down her request to dub her lines in "Chidambarathil...", now it is a known fact that she puts a contract clause that she should be let to do her own dubbing. Even Meera Jasmine's voice is dubbed by Saveetha Reddy in her Tamil movies.
Year 2006 started well with Navya Nair bagging the best actress Kerala State Awards for her roles in the movies - Kanne Madanguga (My Dear, please return) and Saira, both offbeat non-commercial ventures. With Navya Nair and Meera Jasmine rivalry heating up in Tamil also, good news is for the fans who adore good performances. Hope Navya Nair stays long in the annals of Tamil cinema as one of the best performers in the league of Savithri, Revathy and Meera Jasmine.

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