Nivin Pauly's unstoppable rise: How he went from guy-next-door to bonafide superstar

Latha Srinivasan

May,16 2017 12:24 41 IST

He was working in Infosys with dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. But fate had other plans and today, Nivin Pauly is one of the top stars in Malayalam cinema. In just six years, he has 20 awards in his kitty and his latest film, Sakhavu, turned out to have Pauly’s biggest opening. So what is the secret to his success?

Nivin Pauly made his debut in 2010 in Malarvaadi Arts Club but no one outside Kerala knew who this young actor was till a few years later. Director Anjali Menon’s 2014 film Bangalore Days, which went on to become a big box office hit, shot him into the limelight (along with Ohm Shanthi Oshaana, which had released earlier that same year) . But it was Premam, directed by Alphonse Puthren, that made Pauly a superstar in Malayalam cinema.

(Clockwise from top left) Premam, Bangalore Days, Sakhavu, Ohm Shanthi Oshaana are among the films that cemented Nivin Pauly's status as a superstar

(Clockwise from top left) Premam, Bangalore Days, Sakhavu, Ohm Shanthi Oshaana are among the films that cemented Nivin Pauly's status as a superstar

Romance, action and more

Nivin Pauly, 32, is known as a romantic hero and that’s a tag he carries with pride. Not afraid of being typecast, Pauly feels that many actors only aspire to get this label but he has done it. However, he’s clear that he doesn’t want play roles with the same shades. He wants to be challenged as an actor and that perhaps shows how much he has matured over the years as an artiste.

One trait that people praise him for and feel adds to his success story is his need to constantly reinvent himself.

Actress Shraddha Srinath, who is making her debut in Tamil with Nivin Pauly in Richie, says, “What makes him a great actor is that he always reinvents himself. Films like Action Hero Biju, Sakhavu and Richie are testimony to this. He’s always giving the audience something new to love about him.”

Actress Manjima Mohan, who made her debut with Nivin Pauly in Oru Vadakkan Selfie, says, “Nivin’s dedication, commitment and his passion make him a great actor. When I worked with him, he had a blue diary with him. One day I asked him about it and he told me it was where he wrote down his doubts when he goes through a script. I don’t know how many actors actually do this. He’s very hard-working and has gone through a lot of struggles to reach where he is today. I know that side of the story as well.”

This dedication and determination is perhaps why he has bagged around 20 awards for nearly half the films he has done so far like Malarvaadi Arts Club, Jacobinte Swargarajyam, Action Hero Biju, Bangalore Days, 1983, Premam and Neram.

Nivin Pauly is among the most grounded stars in Malayalam cinema

Nivin Pauly is among the most grounded stars in Malayalam cinema

All about humility

Till a few years ago, Nivin Pauly shied away from the media. But it wasn’t arrogance – just that he was shy and enjoys his privacy. People who know him, say he’s simple and just the same guy he was before he became a star.

Manjima Mohan says Pauly knows everything about her and they share a close friendship. She adds, “Nivin is my first co-star, my lucky co-star and best friend. If I’m up to something, he’ll somehow find out and call me. When I have doubts about a script, I discuss it with him. If he’s going through something, he calls me up too. And he’s also someone I can go and ask for money — that’s the kind of space he’s given me. I’m surprised that it’s two years since we know each other but it’s still the same as day one!"

In a previous interview, Pauly had talked about how he doesn't let success get to his head. “I do enjoy success when it happens but I don't let it get to my head. I refuse to stay in its hangover for long and get involved in what lies ahead. I am the same person as before, and still go out as usual. But I (cherish) my private space, so don't enjoy it beyond a point when people recognise me or want to click a selfie with me,” he told The Times of India.

As a co-star too, Pauly is loved by everyone. Shraddha Srinath says, “He doesn’t exude the superstar vibe. He’s very grounded. Richie is my first Tamil film and without saying or doing anything, he made me super comfortable and gave me confidence.”

Manjima too agrees saying, “He’s really good as a co-star; he makes you comfortable. He also taught me to be patient and gives me advice about my career.”

Not only does Pauly give advice to his co-stars but he also seeks it from his seniors like Prithviraj, when needed. This shows how open he is as a person with ego playing no role in his relationships.

Pauly openly talks about how spiritual he is. He prays a lot (especially before the release of every film) and this also perhaps keeps him grounded. Pauly stated in an interview, “I believe in God. I am not a regular but when I get time, I go to church and sit alone and pray. I say thanks and also, I pray my next film goes well. Rather, that things go on as they do now!”

It’s not surprising that he has fans all over India and the globe proving that his films appeal to even those who don’t know Malayalam. Karthik Sivaraj, an ardent fan of his, says, “He plays his characters with so much ease and differentiates them from one another. I also adore him for taking up different genres of movies.”

Pauly also has a large female fan following and Majima says Pauly’s quite proud of that. “We keep talking about that,” she says, laughing.

As of now, Nivin Pauly wants to take up a role with shades of grey and present a new facet of himself to the audience. Sure enough, he’s likely to succeed in this new avatar too.

Given the fact that Pauly is someone who pursues his dream with passion and never gives up, the star is here to stay for a long time to come by entertaining the audience through constant innovation.