Heroines, generally, have a very limited job description. They have to look good, dance well and be the perfect match for the heroes. It is seldom that they get to break the mold and perform a role that challenges them to use their skills in acting. It is sad that such roles happen only on rare occasions. Close to Women’s Day, we would like to relive some of the most memorable roles played out by the leading ladies of Kollywood over the past decade.
Laila: Pithamagan, Nandhaa
She normally played the chirpy kind of characters, but in Pithamagan she had to play an overconfident girl who stopped at nothing.
Shouting, fighting, challenging, she had to do almost everything that went against the normal text book heroine. She did it with a lot of gumption, not going overboard on any instance. Another character that is in complete contrast is from a film by the same director, Bala’s Nandhaa. The subdued and soft spoken girl was so different from the regular characters associated with Laila.
To be able to make such a debut is great fortune in itself. Kadhal was a great boost to the careers of all those who were part of it. It put Bharath firmly on the Kollywood map of heroes, made Balaji Shakthivel a respected director and highlighted Sandhya as the talented new girl on the block. The schoolgirl role in the movie seemed to be tailor-made for her and she captivated us with it. However, her career has failed to live up to the promise generated by her debut.
Tamanna was lucky to get such a mellow and classy character so early in her career. She followed this up with the very sweet Happy Days in Telugu. Both Kalloori and Happy Days revolved around college life and Tamanna reveled in playing a student. Kalloori sort of opened the gates for her in Kollywood and here she is with plum movies like Padikathavan, Paiyya, Ayan, Kandein Kadhalai etc.
Mental trauma and utter consternation – this has seldom been brought out in a better way. This is considered widely as Simran’s best performance.
The mixed expressions of confusion and fear were elicited with a lot of control by the actress, not going overboard at many places where the margin for error was very narrow. The trepidation when her husband refuses to believe her and instead thinks that she has gone off her mind was extremely well depicted. The sensitive and matured portrayal of a mother of two in Kannathil Muthamittal is also one of Simran’s best performances.
Sneha: Parthiban Kanavu, Autograph
Sneha must be lucky to have done three really memorable roles over the past decade. An actress normally struggles to get one good role in an entire career. The contrasting characters of Parthiban Kanavu, the resolute lady of Autograph or the housewife yearning for the proximity of an extended family in Pirivom Santhippom, Sneha was absolutely topnotch in all these movies. The scenes of the ‘Ovvoru pookalume’ song are still inspiring to watch, so are many scenes from Parthipan Kanavu. After talking about these, one wonders whether this actress is being given her due in Kollywood.
Pooja: Naan Kadavul
The most recent and perhaps the most compelling performance of the past decade, Pooja was simply awesome in Naan Kadavul. The efforts that she took to bring the character on screen are evident. Wearing those opaque lenses, sporting the disheveled look and at many times being quite roughly handled by other characters in the movie, her performance required commitment of the highest order. No wonder, many are touting the character of Hamsavalli to bring the National Award to Kollywood once again.
Ramya Krishnan: Padayappa
This role does not qualify as a regular heroine, but it is as memorable, if not more, than all those leading lady characters that we have seen over the years.
Ramya Krishnan’s power packed portrayal of the vengeful Neelambari in Padaiyappa is one of Tamil cinema’s most celebrated negative roles. In fact, many consider Neelambari as the single strongest factor in Padayappa. Now, when we know that the same movie had Superstar in the lead, the impact of Ramya Krishnan’s performance can be easily gauged.
How can anyone forget the Muthazhagu of Paruthiveeran? Rarely do heroines get such ‘powerful’ roles. Priyamani was lucky to get one and to her credit, she made full use of it. She was game enough to go in with a ‘no make up’ village girl look, mouthed the slang to near perfection and overall, turned in the performance of the year that rightfully fetched her National Award. The scenes, where she exhibits absolute defiance against her parents, is unforgettable.
She couldn’t have chosen a better swansong on the big screen. Until her last movie, we never realized that such a sensitive actress existed within the normally vivacious Jyothika.
Mozhi was a revelation; it was also a disappointment because there was the realization that we had been missing such a captivating facet of Jyothika for so long. The confident portrayal of a deaf and dumb person was far removed from the general cinematic stereotypes. Who can forget the psychic Chandramukhi and the haunting chant of ‘Ra Ra…’ or the villainous lady who shocked us with her cunning in Pachaikili Muthucharam?
This is, by Asin’s own admission, the turning point in her career. The bubbly, lovable and charming Kalpana was one of the biggest strengths of Ghajini. Asin did extremely well in all kinds of scenes, whether bragging, helping, pacifying or romancing, she was spot on. She was also absolutely wonderful in the songs which were super hits. It was as if the role had been destined for her. Even Aamir Khan seemed to agree as he insisted on her for the Hindi version. The Tamil Ghajini took her places in Kollywood; the Hindi remake is doing the same to her in Bollywood.
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