Nithya Menen thinks it can be suffocating to get too comfortable in one space. It’s a belief that she has acted upon throughout her 14-year-long career that spans five film industries and now, a streaming platform.
For someone who never wanted to be an actor, and hated being one, 14 years is a fairly long time.
“A truly creative person wouldn’t be too happy settling down. There has to be a sense of adventure and not just an attempt to guard your image. An actor should be fluid and vulnerable and willing to fail and look like a fool. Safety nets are for businessmen,” she says during a Zoom interview days ahead of her digital debut with Amazon Prime’s Breathe Into The Shadows, where she co-stars with Abhishek Bachchan.
It’s an unsurprising opinion from an actor who has taken risks throughout her career. While Menen became the darling of younger viewers with her charming turns in rom-coms, especially opposite Dulquer Salmaan, her filmography is also filled with experiments such as Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty (a 2012 Malayalam film that followed the life of a reality show contestant) and Praana (a 2018 thriller made in four languages, where she was the sole actor).
Not all of these experiments were successful, but Menen ensures that she’s unforgettable even in cameos. That’s why, for someone who thinks of herself as a reluctant actor, she has managed to act in over 50 films by now.
After making her mark in four Southern film industries, she made a successful Bollywood debut last year with Mission Mangal. Though the film starred some of the top actors from Hindi films, Menen’s Varsha Pillai was confident but not without being vulnerable, something that made a mark with viewers and critics. And days from now, Menen will make her streaming debut with Amazon’s Breathe Into The Shadows.
“Who gets to do this? Every few years, I feel like a debutante. Isn’t that fantastic?” says Menen, beaming from the other end of a Zoom call, her face glowing as if...