Mahima Nambiar, who portrayed Mini, the charming girlfriend of Shane Nigam's character Robert in 'RDX,' is ecstatic following the film's success. The actor attributes her success to director Nahas Hidayat, describing the film as a lucky charm that introduced her work to a wider audience, especially among Malayalis. Her recent releases include '800,' 'Chandramukhi 2,' and 'Raththam.' In an interview with Onmanorama, the Kasaragod native shares her journey from Mollywood to Kollywood and her experiences in the film industry.
Excerpts from the interview
I understand you made your debut in Mollywood 13 years ago.
Yes, I played Dileep's younger sister in 'Kaaryasthan,' which was more of a blink-and-miss role. The director of the movie invited me after noticing my photo in the photo contest section of Malayala Manorama. I didn't receive many offers from Malayalam after that film, but I got the opportunity to work in a Tamil movie called 'Saatai.' After that, more projects came my way.
How much has changed for you post 'RDX'?
A lot has changed. I am pleased that people now recognize me as a Malayali. Many were surprised to learn that I was from Kerala because I acted in numerous Tamil movies and spoke Tamil fluently. Even Antony Varghese, who played Dony in 'RDX,' was surprised to discover that I was a Malayali actor. I am also receiving more offers from Malayalam cinema now. While I had a role in 'Madhura Raja,' I didn't take up other Malayalam films at that time because I wasn't satisfied with the characters I was being offered. In between, I made a cameo appearance in 'Valatty.'
What convinced you to do 'RDX'?
I already knew Nahas sir as he had approached me for an (unreleased) movie called 'Aaravam,' in which Antony Varghese was also the lead. I couldn't commit to that project due to scheduling conflicts. However, he approached me for this role in 'RDX.' I was drawn to the film's title, which had a certain punch to it. Additionally, the script was convincing, and I believed it would resonate with younger audiences. People today seek theatrical experiences and want to encounter memorable moments in films. 'RDX' had several such moments that I felt would make an impact on the audience. The film also had a compelling storyline infused with powerful emotions. The production team and crew were fantastic, accommodating my other film commitments. Overall, 'RDX' was a complete package.
The song 'Neela Nilave' has resonated with the audience.
Nahas sir had high hopes for this song. We shot it in three to four schedules, and everyone on set loved it. In Malayalam, there are very few songs featuring dance numbers where the hero pursues the heroine. We intentionally gave it a Tamil-style track, and there was a great vibe surrounding the song. Shane is an incredible dancer, and I knew the song would work, but I didn't anticipate it would gain such a dedicated fan base.
Your look in the song also garnered attention.
(Laughs) I believe it was the way I was presented in the song. In real life, I look quite different. My stylists altered my skin tone and hairstyle, giving me a completely different appearance.
There were some criticisms regarding the 'dark' skin tone you were given in the film.
Some people in the film industry who knew me personally and were familiar with my original skin tone also shared this opinion with me. Initially, there were no plans to darken my character, but during the look test for the film, my natural skin tone clashed with the clothing I wore in the film, making me appear too Western. Mini's character is from a colony, and she wasn't supposed to have a Western look. Therefore, we made a unanimous decision to darken my skin to better suit the character.
Nahas seems to be a very confident director.
Yes, he is someone who doesn't like to compromise. He has a clear vision of how he wants things done, even though everyone on set is experienced. He knew precisely what he wanted in my stunt scene as well.
How was it working with the rest of the cast, such as Shane, Neeraj, and Pepe?
I had never worked with such a young crew before. Most of my previous Tamil movies were directed by senior filmmakers, so this was a different experience. I enjoyed the dynamic, and the chemistry between the three – Shane, Neeraj, and Pepe – was fantastic, making it a lot of fun.
Could you share your experience working with Kangana Ranaut?
I had only two scenes with her in 'Chandramukhi 2,' in which she plays a ghost. However, I got to know her better during the promotional tour across India. She is an amazing woman who speaks her mind. She is very sweet, professional, and easy to work with. We had a great time promoting the movie. Many people commented that they had not seen her share the same chemistry with others as she did with me. We danced and hugged, and it was a lot of fun.
She is known to be very outspoken...
I think it's better to describe her as 'child-like' because she doesn't hide her emotions or thoughts. She speaks openly, which is perhaps why some people struggle to digest what she says.
How did you get cast in '800'? Can you describe your role in the film?
The makers thought I bore a resemblance to Muthiah Muralitharan's wife, Mathimalar Ramamurthy. They approached me after seeing one of my video songs. Initially, I had reservations about whether I could do justice to her appearance. However, I gained confidence when Malar ma'am's mother, who was present on the first day of the shoot at their ancestral home, mistook me for her daughter. We were shooting the wedding sequence, and I wore the same sari and hairstyle as she had.
What was your experience working on the film?
Both Muthiah sir and Malar ma'am were present throughout the film shoot, which was advantageous for me. It was a great opportunity to portray her character, given her success in her field. The promotional tour for the film was also a fantastic experience because we met several cricketers, including Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly, and others. I enjoyed