Diana Mariam Kurian (born on 18 November 1984), best known by her stage name Nayantara, is an Indian film actress, who has appeared in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films. After several commercial successes such as Chandramukhi, Ghajini, Billa and Yaaradi Nee Mohini, she has established herself as one of the leading contemporary actresses in Tamil cinema.
She studied in various parts of India (Bengaluru, Gujarat, Delhi and Kerala), as her father was an Indian Air Force official. She is a Syrian Christian by birth. She did her schooling at the prestigious Kendriya Vidyalaya schools in north India and then attended Marthoma College in Tiruvalla for her Bachelor's degree in English Literature. She is a native of Tiruvalla, Pathanamthitta district.
Nayan was spotted when she was still in college by director Satyan Anthikkad, who cast her opposite Jayaram in the 2003 Malayalam film Manassinakkare. Later, she co-starred alongside Mohanlal in Natturajavu and in Fazil's Vismayathumbathu. She was also cast with Mammootty in Thaskaraveeran and Raapakal.
She subsequently started appearing in Tamil and Telugu films. 2005, she was cast opposite Sarath Kumar in Ayya, debuting in the Tamil film industry, and followed it up with Chandramukhi. The comedy horror film, in which she starred alongside Rajinikanth, became one of the most successful Tamil films in history, running for over 700 days in theatres, turning Nayantara eventually into one of the most-sought after actresses in Tamil. Later that year her third Tamil film, A. R. Murugadoss' Ghajini released, where she played a secondary female character, which again was a commercially highly successful venture. She then made her debut in Telugu, starring in the film Lakshmi, following which she performed in Boss, alongside Venkatesh and Nagarjuna, respectively. She regained her star billing in Kollywood acting opposite Ajith Kumar in the Vishnuvardhan-directed Billa. The gangster film, a remake of the same-titled 1980 Tamil film, went on to become a blockbuster success at the box office.
In 2008 she had five releases, four of which in Tamil. Her first release, the family entertainer Yaaradi Nee Mohini was one of the highest grossing Tamil films of the year, besides receiving seven nominations at the 56th Filmfare Awards South, including a Best Actress nomination for Nayantara for her portrayal of Keerthi. Her subsequent releases, however, Kuselan opposite Rajnikanth, Sathyam opposite Vishal, Aegan opposite Ajith Kumar and Villu opposite Vijay were all unsuccessful. Her only successful release in 2009 was Aadhavan with Surya which released in October 2009, and become one of the few hits of 2009 which ran for 100 days.
Her three 2010 releases, Bodyguard in Malayalam as well as Adurs and Simha in Telugu were commercially successful, with particularly the latter becoming on of the highest-grossing films of the year. Her forthcoming films include Boss Engira Bhaskaran with Tamil actor Arya and acclaimed director Shyamaprasad's Malayalam film entitled Electra. She is also making her debut into the Kannada film industry opposite super star Upendra.
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