Helen Nelson, (born 29 April 1991) better known professionally by her stage name Oviya, is an Indian model and actress who works in Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada film industries along with few Telugu and Hindi films. She made her breakthrough as an actress in Sarkunam's rural romantic comedy Kalavani (2010), before appearing in other films including Pandiraj's Marina (2012), Moodar Koodam (2013) and Madha Yaanai Koottam (2013). Oviya has also enjoyed box office success through her roles in Sundar C's Kalakalappu (2012) and the horror comedy Yaamirukka Bayamey (2014). In 2017, Oviya appeared on the reality series Bigg Boss Tamil.[2]

Oviya Helen in 2018.jpg
Oviya in 2018 at Behindwoods YouTube channel for an interview
Helen Nelson

(1991-04-29) 29 April 1991 (age 30)[1]
Alma materVimala College, Thrissur
  • Actor
  • model
Years active2007 – present
Known for

Early life

Oviya was born as Helen Nelson in a Syrian Christian family in Thrissur, Kerala.[3] Oviya studied at Vimala College, Thrissur.[4][better source needed]


Debut in Malayalam cinema (2007–2009)

Oviya began her career as an actress by portraying supporting roles in Malayalam films, notably working in Kangaroo (2007) and Puthiya Mukham (2009) starring Prithviraj and as one of the lead characters in the college drama Apoorva (2008).[5] Oviya then worked towards completing a BA in Functional English at Vimala College in Thrissur, before director Sargunam approached her for Kalavani (2010). Sarkunam cast her in the leading female role after seeing a picture of her online and was convinced that he had found the correct actress to portray the role despite reservations from the producer.[6]

Debut in Tamil cinema (2010-2016)

In Kalavani, she was featured opposite Vimal, and the film subsequently gained positive reviews and became a sleeper hit at the box office.[7][8] Critics praised Oviya's performance of a village-based schoolgirl, with a critic from the Hindustan Times stating "Oviya's marvellous expressions convey her gratitude, and she uses her eyes to say it all". Similarly, a reviewer from The Hindu stated "Oviya looks cute and emotes well, which is a rarity these days".[9][10]

Following the success of Kalavani, Oviya signed several small-budget films including Jeevan's Amara, Vengai, Mugam Nee Agam Naan, Sevanu and Rasu Madhuravan's Muthukku Muthaaga (2011), but only the latter had a theatrical release.[11][12] While several films were stopped due to financial reasons, Oviya had to opt out of a few films after inadvertently muddling her dates.[13] Portraying the role of a college basketballer in Muthukku Muthaaga, Oviya worked through the pain barrier for the film after fainting on the sets following an illness. The film, however, opened to negative reviews with a critic from Behindwoods.com stating Oviya's character was "annoying".[14][15] During the period, she was also seen in two further Malayalam films Puthumukhangal (2010) and Manushyamrugam (2011), despite making claims that Malayalam films were "uninteresting and boring".[16] The Kannada remake of Kalavani titled Kirataka (2011) won Oviya more critical acclaim, with a reviewer from Rediff.com stating she "charms her way through the film", though a proposed Telugu remake later fell through.[17][18] Oviya was also seen in a guest appearance in K. S. Ravikumar's romantic comedy, Manmadhan Ambu (2010), where she featured alongside Kamal Haasan and Madhavan. Post-release, the actress revealed that she appreciated the opportunity to work alongside big actors but was disappointed that several of her scenes were edited out of the film.[19]

Over the following three years, Oviya prioritised her work in Tamil films appearing in several small and mid-budget projects and alternated between performance-based and glamorous roles. In Pandiraj's critically acclaimed drama film Marina (2012), Oviya and her co-star debutant Sivakarthikeyan portrayed a couple who frequent Marina Beach, with a critic describing their performance as "absolutely enjoyable and hilarious".[20][21] Likewise, the black comedy Moodar Koodam (2014) and the thriller Madha Yaanai Koottam (2014) also featured Oviya in performance-based roles and both won critical acclaim.[22][23] She portrayed a glamorous role for the first time in Sundar C's comedy Kalakalappu (2012), where she worked alongside a star cast of Shiva, Vimal and Anjali. The film opened to positive reviews and performed well at the box office, becoming her most profitable film to date.[24][25][26] Following further glamorous roles in unsuccessful films such as Sillunu Oru Sandhippu (2013) and Pulivaal (2014), Oviya scored another success with her role as a dainty, hot girl in Deekay's horror comedy Yaamirukka Bayamey (2014).[27][28] Critics also praised her performance, with a reviewer from the Deccan Chronicle stating "as the girl-next-door-unafraid-of-her-sexuality, Oviya is perfect".[29][30]

Oviya's acting career began to decline after 2014 and she was primarily offered glamorous roles in low-profile films. She was cast opposite veteran actor Sarathkumar in the unsuccessful Sandamarutham (2015) which garnered negative reviews, while her subsequent Tamil films, C. V. Kumar's heist comedy 144 (2015) and Sundar C's horror comedy Hello Naan Pei Pesuren (2016) did not perform as well as anticipated at the box office.[31][32] Another project, the female-centric Bhogi co-starring Trisha and Poonam Bajwa, was also stalled despite the shoot progressing. She subsequently moved on to portray a role in the low-budget Hindi film Yeh Ishq Sarfira (2015) and then the leading role of a city girl in the Kannada film, Mr. Mommaga (2016).[33][34]

Bigg Boss Tamil (2017–2018)

In 2017, Oviya took part in the Tamil reality television show Bigg Boss hosted by Kamal Haasan for the Star Vijay channel. Oviya gained instant popularity on the show through her charm and honesty, in comparison to other housemates. While enjoying friendship with contestants Bindu Madhavi, Raiza Wilson, Ganesh Venkatraman, and a cordial and one-sided romantic relationship with season winner Arav, she was repeatedly targeted and bullied by other housemates including Gayathri Raghuram, Namitha, Juliana and Shakthi Vasudevan. Her clever responses and positive attitude to the bullying won over audiences.[35][36] Voters repeatedly kept her in the show despite her being up for eviction at multiple instances, while she garnered a "cult following" on social media with phrases such as "Oviya Army" regularly trending.[35] Her behaviour and positive attitude on the show also attracted other celebrities to tweet in appreciation of her, with the likes of Priya Anand, Nivetha Pethuraj, Sathish and Karunakaran amongst others praising her on social media.[37] The popularity of Oviya reached such a high in late July 2017 that the makers of an unrelated Tamil film, Balloon (2017), included a song titled "Neenga Shut Up Pannunga" and dedicated it to the actress. Likewise, several other songwriters created their own "Oviya Anthems" and released them online.[38][39]

In early August 2017, Oviya quit the show on medical grounds, following a week-long spat with Arav regarding her one-sided romantic feelings for him. Prior to her exit, she deliberately jumped into the swimming pool to force her departure, prompting the police to briefly investigate a potential suicide angle to the move.[40][41] Despite widespread calls on social media for her to return to the show as a wildcard entrant, Oviya released a video confirming that she had no interest in going back into the Bigg Boss House and would take an extended break and prioritise film opportunities. She also called for the public to forgive Shakthi and Julie for their behaviour towards her on the show.[42]

2019- present

Her acting career also saw positive developments following her stint on the show and her subsequent popularity. A long-delayed, small-budget film titled Seeni was renamed to Oviyaava Vitta Yaaru to cash in on the actress's new found fan following. Likewise, her Malayalam film Manushyamrugam from 2012, was dubbed into Tamil and prepared for release under the title Police Rajyam.[43][44] Filmmakers including Sundar C, C. S. Amudhan and Santhosh Jayakumar announced their interest in signing the actress for roles in their film Kalakalappu 2, Tamil Padam 2 and Iruttu Araiyil Murattu Kuththu, but she turned down the offers.[45][46] Post her Bigg Boss-fame, she signed on to appear in the Muni 4: Kanchana 3 by Raghava Lawrence,[47] a sequel to her breakthrough film in Kalavani 2, and a female-orientated script, 90ML.[48][49][50]



  Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Film Role Language Notes
2007 Kangaroo Susanna Malayalam Malayalam debut
2008 Apoorva Pooja
2009 Puthiya Mukham Meera
Naalai Namadhe Aishwarya Tamil Tamil Debut
2010 Kalavani Maheswari
Manmadan Ambu Sunanda
Puthumukhangal Varsha Malayalam
2011 Muthukku Muthaaga Shwetha Tamil
Kirataka Nethra Kannada Kannada Debut
Manushyamrugam Sophie Malayalam
2012 Marina Sopnasundari Tamil
Kalakalappu Maya
2013 Sillunu Oru Sandhippu Geetha
Moodar Koodam Karpagavalli
Madha Yaanai Koottam Ritu
2014 Pulivaal Monica
Yaamirukka Bayamey Sharanya
2015 Sandamarutham Minmini (Rekha)
Yeh Ishq Sarfira Riya Hindi Hindi debut
144 Kalyani Tamil
2016 Hello Naan Pei Pesuren Sridevi
Mr. Mommaga Karthika Kannada
2018 Idi Naa Love Story Abhinaya Telugu Telugu Debut
Silukkuvarupatti Singam Kanaka Tamil Cameo appearance
2019 90ML Rita Also co-sang "Marana Matta"[51][52]
Ganesha Meendum Santhipom Keerthi
Muni 4: Kanchana 3 Kavya
Oviyavai Vitta Yaru Oviya
Kalavani 2 Maheswari [53][54]
2021 Black Coffee Malu Malayalam
Raja Bheema   Herself Tamil Post-production, cameo
Sambhavam   TBA Tamil Filming[55]


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi Contestant Game reality show
2017 Bigg Boss Tamil (season 1) Contestant Reality TV Series[56]
2018 Bigg Boss Tamil (season 2) Guest Reality TV Series
2021 Merlin Merlin Web Series



Year Song Album Composer Lyricist Other artist(s) Notes Ref.
2017 "Marana Matta" 90 ML Silambarasan Shabareesh Varma Silambarasan, Harish Kalyan Debut [57]

Awards and honours

Year Award Category Film Result
2010 5th Vijay Awards Best Debut Actress Kalavani Won
2011 Variety Film Awards[58] Best Actress Muthukku Muthaaga Won
2012 Edison Awards Best Female Rising Star Kalakalappu Won
2013 FETNA Awards [59] Shining Star Award Kalakalappu Won
2018 JFW Golden Divas Awards JFW Golden Diva N/A Won
2018 Aval Awards Darling of Tamil Nadu N/A Won


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External links