Thirty-five years and counting. Actress Nadhiya Moidu made her debut in Malayalam hit Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu in 1985 when she was just 18 and she is still unstoppable. She created a splash in Malayalam cinema that had not seen such a cosmopolitan heroine till then. However, the success of the movie made Nadhiya a rage, so much so, that the director Fazil had to improvise her role in the Tamil remake Poove Poochoodava. Nadhiya earned her first Filmfare Award for Best Actress portraying that bubbly tom-boyish girl in the movie. For the next three years, the 55-year-old actress worked extensively in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu cinema and then decided to take a break. She married an investment banker Shirish Godbole in 1988 and moved to the US. After a long hiatus, Nadhiya returned in 2004 with M Kumaran Son of Mahalakshmi and it was her first move to leave her comfort zone and accept the role of a mother of a 20-year-old son played by Jayam Ravi in her 30s. Now she returns to Tamil cinema after the 2016 release Thiraikku Varadha Kathai. She has a chock-a-block calendar for 2022 with four films releasing this year including Ghani (Telugu), Bheeshma Parvam (Malayalam), Ante Sundaraniki (Telugu) and one with Telugu star Mahesh Babu. We catch up with the Mumbai-born actress ahead of the release of her Tamil short Mouname Paarvaiyai with Joju George in Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa — an anthology set during the COVID-19 pandemic, to talk about the film, her foray into OTT and her journey as an actress.
Anthologies seem to be the recent trend in Indian cinema. Do you think it has changed the face of filmmaking?
Absolutely. OTT has given a lot more room to directors and writers who can tell their stories differently. For actors, I think there are more stories with so many different characters. Actors are getting better roles which wasn’t the case before. It doesn’t only revolve around a hero and heroine anymore, which is rewarding as an actor.
Mouname Paarvaiyai deals with subjects like love, friendship and emotions. How important are these aspects in your life?
It’s very important for me and always has been. And that’s why during the lockdown I was missing all the people I would otherwise call home. I made the maximum number of video calls during this time, something I’ve never done before. I conclude these three emotions in communication, which I find extremely important to maintain any relationship. I value one-on-one relationships the most.
How have you evolved over the past 30 years in your journey as an actress? Also, what is your take on the industry today?
I have become more accepting. I am open to new ideas because I am at a stage where I am working with mostly young actors and to be comfortable with them I have to accept the changing times. It makes it easy for me to work with them. As far as the Southern industries are concerned, yes things are changing. When I was working in the ’80s it was a small world but things are very different today. I wish there were more substantial roles for women than male counterparts. I would like to see stronger roles played by women on screen.
How do you process getting older in a business that is notoriously ageist?
I am a classic example of taking up a role of a mother in my 30s. At that time, my parallel actors told me that if I played mother I will be stereotyped but I thought I am not in my 20s where I will be running around trees. I think we have to learn to accept the phase that we are in and do what is best within those parameters. I am not a young woman anymore but I would love to do roles that are written for my age. It’s just the mindset and about accepting yourself. I also feel we are breaking those stereotypes.
You recently made the entry on social media. How has your experience been, so far?
It’s still a new space for me. I am someone who is partly from the old school of thought and I think we are far too accessible to people. I prefer to have a little privacy and that mystery factor that we had pre-social media. Thanks to COVID-19, I got on social media. I try to put out relevant messages on social media. That’s the way I do it.
And finally, the secret to your good looks?
(Laughs) I am blessed with great genes, thanks to my parents. I am someone who loves working out and walks a lot. I surround myself with people who make me laugh and who are honest and genuine. These factors keep me in a peaceful space.
Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa releases on Amazon Prime Video, today.