‘Sri Rama Rajyam’ to ‘Annapoorani’: Nayanthara’s ongoing struggle with fundamentalists

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 ‘Lady Superstar’ Nayanthara, whose latest film ‘Annapoorani’ was removed from Netflix following backlash from fundamentalists, had always been on the radar of right-wing outfits. Over a decade ago, Nayanthara faced vehement opposition from Hindutva organisations when director Bapu decided to cast her as the lead lady (Sita) in the Telugu devotional flick ‘Sri Rama Rajyam’.

While some questioned the director’s decision to cast a commercial heroine to play a devotional character, some far-right organisations went to the level of casting aspersions on her character. It was the time when Nayan made her relationship with actor-director Prabhu Deva public. The Hindu Makkal Kachi claimed casting Nayanthara as Sita would also hurt the sentiments of Hindus since the Ramayana was based on the principle of ‘one man, one woman in life’. However, Nayanthara’s male counterpart in the movie, Nandamuri Balakrishna, who played Rama, did not face any such personal scrutiny.

As part of her preparations for the role, Nayanthara had turned vegetarian, suggested reports. Unfazed by the objections, ‘Sri Rama Rajyam’ director Bapu stood by his decision to cast Nayanthara in Sita’s role. “He never relented even when everyone questioned his choice. For him, making the Ramayana was very precious and he stood by me,” Nayanthara said in an interview later.

Her hard work and Bapu’s belief in her paid off when Nayanthara won the Nandi Award for Best Actress for her role as Sita in the movie. In ‘Annapoorani’, her latest release, the actor plays a Brahmin woman who aspires to become a corporate chef. The Hindu Sewa Parishad members were particularly upset that Nayanthara’s character ‘offered namaz’ before cooking biryani. They also argued that one of the dialogues in the film implied that Ram ate meat.

‘Sri Rama Rajyam’ to ‘Annapoorani’: Nayanthara’s ongoing struggle with fundamentalists

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