Nithya Menen, who will portray former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa in a biopic titled The Iron Lady, is not worried about comparisons. While Kangana Ranaut will play the late leader in Thalaivi, Ramya Krishnan’s character in the web series Queen was loosely based on her.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Nithya said that she was concerned about doing justice to the portrayal of Jayalalithaa, rather than comparisons with other actors. When asked if she feels a greater sense of responsibility, given that others are playing the part as well, she said, “Not at all. The responsibility should not come with comparisons with other actors or films. The responsibility should come with comparisons with Jayalalithaa, that I did that role right or I did right by that person.”
The number of projects on Jayalalithaa’s life ‘doesn’t matter’ to Nithya. “Different people can make different films and everybody is very passionate about their own film. There is no problem with that. There shouldn’t be a sense of competition, but rather that this is a creative medium and art should always thrive. Everyone’s films should do well. I don’t think these things even played in the director’s mind. She told me, ‘Let them make their film, we will make our film.’ Our interest is only in making a good film, not in making the ‘best’ film. A film that is authentic, that is right and stands out in its own way,” she said.
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Jayalalithaa was a successful movie star before she set her sights on politics in the 1980s. She held the chief minister’s seat for six terms. She continues to be loved and revered by the people.
When director Priyadhaarshini approached Nithya for the role of Jayalalithaa in The Iron Lady, she was prepared to politely turn it down. However, she changed her mind because of the filmmaker’s clarity of vision.
Talking about the apprehensions she had about playing Jayalalithaa, Nithya said, “I think while playing any real person, you will have some kind of apprehension, because you have to fit yourself into that mould. That is not very easy to do. So, you think, ‘Will I be successful in doing that?’ I initially thought I will politely decline, but the director was quite clear with how she wanted to go about it and just seeing how clear she was, I changed my mind.”
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