From masala queen to star with substance, how Trisha has evolved in Kollywood

TNM Staff
We might have seen more of dancing than acting skills from this controversy's child but Trisha appears to be keen to change that.

Actor Trisha turned 33 on Thursday. Having made her debut in a supporting role in 1999, Trisha went on to become Kollywood's sweetheart. In an industry where the average shelf life of a heroine doesn't last more than five years, Trisha has not just survived, she has managed to evolve.

Admittedly, a majority of Trisha's films have been in the masala genre where we've seen more of her dancing skills than acting chops. Quick on her feet and able to match steps with dance whizzes like Vijay, Trisha has been instrumental in turning many a fast number immortal - Appadi Podu Podu being one such example. She has also acted in romances and action flicks in the Telugu industry, including blockbusters like Varsham and Athadu.

However, though these films have been her mainstay, Trisha seems to be keen on reinventing herself. The earliest sign of this was when she took up a film like Abhiyum Naanum at a time when she was acting with top stars in the industry.

The film, starring Prakash Raj, Aishwarya, and Ganesh Venkatraman was about a father-daughter relationship - not the usual saccharine stuff but refreshingly genuine. While there might be more heroines who are willing to do such films today, nearly ten years ago, such a genre might not have had many takers among mainstream stars. Trisha turned out a memorable performance in the film, matching Prakash Raj in histrionics, and keeping it real.

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaya, a Gautam Menon film in which she starred with her friend Silambarasan, was a game-changer in Trisha's career. She had a substantial role to play in the film which went beyond the usual decorative heroine character. The film became a blockbuster and is still counted by fans of Kollywood romances as among the best.

Manmadhan Ambu was another interesting film which, for once, did not take a moralistic stance towards women working in the entertainment industry. Trisha played the role of an actor who breaks off her engagement with her boyfriend when the latter tells her that she must give up her career after marriage. Once again, Trisha had a meaty role in the film and was convincing as a frustrated and angry Ambu searching for space and peace.

Later, in 2015, Trisha acted in Yennai Arindhal as a single parent, a decision that many top heroines would hesitate to make, considering how easy it is for them to be typecast in "mother roles." Trisha revealed in an interview that she did hesitate to do the role of Hemanika, but that she's glad that she eventually did it because it turned out to be a memorable one in her career.

Perhaps emboldened by these decisions which went well for her despite conventional Kollywood wisdom, Trisha dared to do a negative role in Kodi, in which she starred with Dhanush.

Not only did she play the villain, her character in the film was so wicked that she even kills the hero out of ambition! However, what was wonderful about Rudra was that she escaped the usual misogynistic way in which female villains are portrayed. Trisha played the role with dignity, setting an example to Kollywood on re-imagining the female villain.

Women-centric cinema in Kollywood has still not caught on. However, like Nayanthara, Trisha too seems eager to do more such films with both actors competing for the 'Lady Superstar' tag. Trisha has a slew of films in her kitty, including Garjanai, the Tamil remake of Anushka Sharma's NH 10. What's more, she's also making her debut in Malayalam cinema with Hey Jude opposite Nivin Pauly.

Off screen, Trisha was among the first female Kollywood stars to be unapologetic about her lifestyle. In a state where the "morality" of female stars becomes a weapon to attack them with, Trisha has never shied away from sharing her party pictures or being open about who she is when the spotlight is switched off.

In one of her early interviews after winning the Miss Chennai beauty pageant, Trisha swore that she would never get into films. The actor has certainly come a long way since then. The female George Clooney of Kollywood has only got better with age and despite being controversy's child, has managed to increase her fan base with every film that she does. Here's hoping we see much more of her in the years to come on the big screen.