The cheeky journalist in the film ‘Ko’, Renuka Narayanan has marked her arrival in Kollywood and she is here to stay says the buzz. But what if Renuka Narayanan had not been the daughter of Radha? Karthika Nair, the daughter of yesteryear heartthrob Radha must owe it to her mother, the first success she had tasted in Kollywood. Although many new faces are introduced every year, having a background surely makes things easy, doesn't it?
It’s not just that only the sons and daughters of big actors and technicians get a chance to make a career in Kollywood. Even actresses have been doing it for long. So if Prabhu, Karthik, Vijay, Surya etc. are on one side there are Jayalalitha, Lakshmi, Karthika etc. on the other.
The first major story we remember of a daughter of an actress success was written by Kumari Rukmani. Baby Rukmani who was a child artist earlier became Kumari Rukmani and created a sensation with her first film 'Sri Valli' in 1945. Rukmani’s mother ‘Nungambakkam’ Janaki was a starlet and Rukmini was her only child.
Later Rukmani’s daughter Lakshmi became even more successful than her mother. She became synonymous with some of the most remarkable and memorable female roles that adorned Tamil cinema in the 70s and 80s. Lakshmi who was introduced in the film ‘Jeevanamsam' in 1968 and is still active. Films like ‘Sila Nerangalil Sila Manithargal,' ‘Sirai’ and many more vouch for the awesome talent Lakshmi has. If Laksmi was the third generation actress, her daughter Aishwarya became the fourth generation actress from the same family. However Aishwarya who started her film career in the early 90s couldn’t reach heights.
Then there was the one and only Jayalalitha who continued with the legacy of her actress mother Sandhya. Sandhya was a known actress when Jayalalitha was introduced by Sridhar in ‘Vennira Aadai’ in 1965. The success story of Jayalaitha will be hardly matched by any other actress any time soon.
Udayanan Vasavathatha and Mangamma Sabatham Vasunthara Devi was another big time actress whose daughter also became a sensational actress in later years. Vasunthara Devi’s daughter was the first popular actress from south who became a rage pan India. Yes, we are talking about Vyjayanthimala and her popularity in the 50s and 60s around the world need not be told now. The mother-daughter duo acted together in the film ‘Irumbu Thirai’ which used this combination as a salient feature.
Jayachitra’s mother Jayasree was also an actress in the 50s. With her mother's encouragement, Jayachitra first became a child artist and then a heroine. Jayachitra was introduced into Tamil films by KS Gopalakrishnan in ‘Kurathi Magan.’ Jayachitra was the Jyothika of her days, exuberant and cheerful.
When these star daughters were introduced in films, the industry took them on their merits. There was no hard sell and planned exercises by the mothers to get their daughters in films. In recent years there were many pattern shifts and there weren’t many successful daughter actresses either.
Kanaka was perhaps the most recent success story before Karthika happened now. Kanaka, the daughter of Devika had a fair triumph with films like 'Karagattakaran' before vanishing into oblivion. Kanaka was even paired opposite Superstar Rajinikanth in a film during her hay days in the 90s.
After that, many actress mothers who launched their daughters could see their daughters becoming only starlets and not big stars.
Jothilakshmi’s daughter Jothi Meena and Anuradha’s daughter Abhinayasri couldn’t go beyond certain limits. A very successful Manjula made all her three daughters as actresses but all three of them – Preetha, Vanitha and Sridevi – failed to make an impact!
Director Bharathiraja took a film with Uma, the daughter of Sumithra in 'Kadal Pookal.' Uma got the name but not popular success. Now Sumithra’s second daughter Nakshatra is debuting in 'Varusanadu' directed by Suryaprakash. Sumitra acted opposite Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth in her days. But it may be dream for her daughters to act opposite Vijay and Surya today.
Poornima Bhagyaraj’s daughter Saranya Bhagyaraj, television actress Poornima’s daughter Santhoshi are not remembered by many as actresses. ‘Kadhal Solla Vandhen’ Meghana is the daughter of Pramila Joshi who was one of the heroines in ‘Vaidegi Kathirunthal’. Though Meghana was first identified by star maker K. Balachander she is waiting for her other films to know her suitability in Kollywood.
Now the latest actress-daughter entrant Karthika has once again stirred the scenario. Karthika’s mother Radha is one of the all time great actresses of Kollywood and Karthika is bound to have a genetic effect in her. Radha’s first film was a teen romance suited best to its times and Karthika’s first film is an action romance suited to its times. Whoever has seen Karthika in ‘Ko’ vouches that she is good and is a star material too.
Here to note that daughters of a few Bollywood top actresses too tried their luck in the munificently magnanimous Kollywood. Tanuja’s daughter Tanisha in ‘Unnale Unnale,' Hema Malini’s daughter Esha Deol in ‘Ayutha Ezhuthu,' Dimple Kapadia’s daughter Rinkie n ‘Majnu,' Moon Moon Sen’s daughter Riya Sen in ‘Taj Mahal.' Maybe, these daughters wouldn’t have taken Kollywood seriously as a career option.
Sarika’s daughter Shruthi will spread her wings in 2011. That’s going to be the next big daughter launch after Karthika. The list may grow stronger if Seetha Parthiban’s daughter Keerthana and Sridevi’s daughter Jhanvi too enter the fascinating world of cinema later some time...