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One-woman superstar Samantha Prabhu steals show from male co-stars with her ‘bold avatar’

If you have recently scrolled Instagram to the sound of ‘Oo Antava’ from the movie Pushpa, you know that Samantha Ruth Prabhu’s dance song is topping the charts not just in the South Indian film industry but in pan-India Reels too. The actress, who has an impressive career in the Tamil and Telugu film industries, played the role of Raji, a Sri Lankan Tamil liberation fighter in the second season of The Family Man that grabbed eyeballs across the country.

Prabhu had done what no other actress has managed to do successfully — make a crossover to Bollywood without a Hindi film.

Post-wedding success and career

In 2021, the high profile ‘ChaySam’ — a popular hashtag for Samantha Prabhu and ex-husband Naga Chaitanya — announced their separation. They had gotten married in 2017 in a highly-publicised wedding and were the talk of the town for months. Dhanush-Aishwarya’s recent divorce created a storm, and so did Samantha’s divorce. Her career choices were blamed for the separation.

While it is believed that marriages often spell the death knell for actresses’ careers, in 2018, a year after her wedding to Nagarjuna’s son, Samantha broke box office records with four films — Mahanati, Irumbu Thirai, U Turn, and Rangasthalam. In Mahanati, actress Keerthy Suresh plays the role of legendary actor Savitri, and Samantha is cast as a reporter with the task of piecing together Savitri’s life story. The latter shines in the role even though she is not the lead. That is again something she would do — play roles for the sake of them, not for the sake of being the lead.

With each role as different as possible from the other, Samantha Ruth Prabhu broke the glass ceiling within the South Indian film industry where it is almost an unwritten rule that actresses give up careers after marriages to fellow actors. She had made it clear even before her fairytale wedding that her career would continue to be her focus, and she has only grown from strength to strength.

Also read: Allu Arjun’s Pushpa shows Telugu films have pan-India audience. Step aside, Bollywood

Bolder and better

Puspha (2021) may have superstar Allu Arjun, but it is Samantha Ruth Prabhu’s item song that stole the thunder from him, quite literally. I streamed the movie to watch her item number, which the makers did not release until after the movie was released on Amazon Prime Video. But the Reels had already been taken over by then.

What is so special about an item number after all? Probably the fact that Prabhu had not tried the ‘bold avatar’ before. ‘Oo Antava‘ also courted controversy with its lyrics that turn the gaze back at the men who make the woman’s body a sexual object. The lyrics say — it doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing or how she looks, the men around her, regardless of age, will always find ways to ogle. She recently did an ad with Akshay Kumar for Kurkure in Hindi, and that too has been widely shared and watched.

In Family Man 2, it is her performance that stays with you long after you are done with the season. That is her forte — stealing the limelight from her male co-star (here, Manoj Bajpai), and she has been doing so almost relentlessly since the beginning of her career. Her role in the series even got her a spot in the Film Companion actors’ adda featuring best acts of 2021.

Her fashion game is also going strong, with the very ‘hard-to-please’ Instagram fashion overlord Diet Sabya calling her ‘one to watch out for in 2022’. Her journey has been long, but she has definitely made some great choices in terms of her personal style on the social media app. From workout videos to fashion statements, she has been making sure that one cannot just scroll past her page without stopping to take a look.

Also read: Sex and The City ticks diversity box — Diwali, lehengas, arranged marriage. Just like that

One woman-superstar

If awards are proof of talent, then Samantha Ruth Prabhu has many in her kitty. She made her acting debut in 2010 with Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Telugu romance film Ye Maaya Chesave, coincidentally with Naga Chaitanya. She played a conservative, older Christian woman whom Karthik (Chaitanya) falls for. The film fetched her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut – South.

In 2012, Prabhu was featured in the live-action Telugu-Tamil bilingual project Eega. The film was one of the highest-grossing Telugu films of the year, earning Rs 1.15 billion globally. It earned the actress a Filmfare Award for Best Telugu Actress.

In the same year, she acted in Neethaane En Ponvasantham, which received mixed reviews, but Samantha Ruth Prabhu shone in her role. She won the Best Actress awards in both the Telugu and Tamil film industries for her performances in Eega and Neethane En Ponvasantham, thereby becoming the second actress to achieve the feat after Revathi had secured both awards in 1992.

Her most recent award was won at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne for Family Man 2 for Best Actor in a series.

Samantha Ruth Prabhu’s 11-year-long professional journey has been filled with experiments and risks, most of which have paid off quite spectacularly for her. Be it her fashion transformations or her choice of roles, she is here to stay and be her own kind of iconic star on her own terms. And 2022 is going to be her year.

Views are personal.

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)

Source: The Print

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