Nayana Elza had twin roles in Maniyaraile Ashokan – assistant director and actor. “I was in charge of costume, make-up and artiste management… it was great fun. Anupama Parameswaran was also an AD (assistant director) for the film; I was asked if I wanted to join. The team was great and I was very comfortable on sets so I thought, ‘why not?’” says Nayana. It was her first time as assistant director.
Her role, as Rani Teacher, is one of those in the film that has found appreciation. “I have been getting a lot of positive feedback, even the trolls have been good-natured and positive,” she says, laughing. The actor made her debut in the Tamil film Thiruttu Payale II before moving to Malayalam with Kaly (2018). However it was as Kunji, in June (2019), that she was recognised and led to this film.
A win at a beauty contest, by a magazine, led the commerce graduate to modelling and subsequently her first role in a Tamil film, which didn’t get made. Thiruttu Payale II , which launched her into film, was her second Tamil film. After that, she made her move to the Malayalam film industry.
“Rani teacher’s character is much older than I am, and very different from how I am. So I had to gain weight for the role and completely go de-glam. I am happy that it has been received well,” Nayana says. She is excited about the character’s recall. “It was unexpected. And especially the proposal scene, when she gives a coconut palm sapling to Ratheesh (Krishna Shankar) as a proposal of marriage. That has gained many fans. Many people said it reminded them of the dialogue between Chacko Master (Thilakan) and Aadu Thoma (Mohanlal) in Spadikam about a coconut sapling,” she says. (The character Chacko Master, in the popular film, tells his son Aadu Thoma that he planted a coconut sapling implying that it would be more beneficial to him than Thoma).
The other films in her kitty include yet-to-release Ullasam and Qurbaani, Iru, Kaanmaanilla and Kurup.