Priya Vasudev Mani Iyer, better known by her stage name Priyamani, is an Indian film actress and model who has appeared in several Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam language films. She is best known for earning a National Film Award for Best Actress for her role in the 2006 Tamil film Paruthi Veeran directed by Ameer Sultan. She is a cousin of Bollywood actress Vidya Balan.
Priyamani was born into a Iyer family in Palakkad, Kerala and grew up in Bangalore. As a result of her dynamic exposure in different South Indian states, she speaks Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu. After completing her schooling, Priyamani modelled for print advertisements. As a subsequent result of her extended modelling, she began to earn opportunities to star in films. After being approached by several directors and being considered for roles, she finally starred in director Bharathiraja's film Kangalal Kaidhu Sei, which was released in 2004. She is currently doing her final year of a B.A. in Psychology.
Her debut film Kangalal Kaidhu Sei in Tamil was released in 2004, and her Telugu debut Evare Atagaadu sank without a trace. Priyamani then made her debut in the Malayalam film industry, where she starred opposite Prithviraj, through the film Satyam, but this film also performed poorly at the box office. Despite these commercial failures, she was signed by Tamil film director and cinematographer Balu Mahendra to star opposite Dhanush in the 2005 drama Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam. She won tremendous acclaim for her performance in the film, but the film's under-performance meant that box-office success still eluded her.
Priyamani found success coming for her finally in the year 2006, when she starred opposite Jagapathi Babu in the film Pellaina Kothalo, a film about a newly-wed couple. The film was a surprise hit given its low budget and modest star cast, and it propelled Priyamani to fame in Tollywood....
After three years in search of the elusive film that would make her get noticed, Priyamani managed to prove both her acting credentials and also commercial appeal with the 2007 film Paruthiveeran, directed by the Tamil director Ameer Sultan, in which she was paired with debutant Karthi Sivakumar. A rural subject which told the story of a notorious young villager in Madurai, the film won tremendous critical acclaim and also became a surprise box-office blockbuster. Priyamani's performance was unanimously praised and she went on to win the National Film Award, followed by a South Filmfare Award, a Tamil Nadu State Film Award and an award at the Osian's Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema. She had another blockbuster in Telugu, starring opposite Jr. NTR in the 2007 film Yamadonga and opposite Vishal in the Tamil film Malaikottai.
She again won huge critical acclaim in 2008 for her role in the Malayalam film Thirakkatha, in which she played a role based on the turbulent real-life story of late film actress Srividya. She won another Filmfare Award for her performance in the film.
2009 she had two Tamil releases, the commercial entertainer Arumugam and the Tamil remake of the Malayalam blockbuster Classmates, titled Ninaithale Inikkum, in which she was paired for the third time with Prithviraj. The former was a commercial failure, whilst the latter is considered a moderate success. Her Kannada debut opposite actor Puneet Rajkumar in the film Raam was also a commercial success, all her three Telugu releases of that year, however, didn't do well at the box-office.