Rashmika Mandanna (/rəʃmɪkɑː mənðənɑː/; born 5 April 1996) is an Indian actress who works in Telugu, Kannada, Hindi and Tamil films. She has received four SIIMA Awards and a Filmfare Award, and has been included in Forbes India's list of "30 Under 30" in 2024.

Rashmika Mandanna
Rashmika promoting Goodbye in 2022
Born (1996-04-05) 5 April 1996 (age 28)
Alma materM. S. Ramaiah College
OccupationActress
Years active2016–present

Rashmika made her acting debut with the Kannada film Kirik Party (2016), and found further success in the action picture Anjani Putra and the romance Chamak (both 2017). Rashmika's first Telugu film release was the romantic comedy Chalo but the romance Geetha Govindam (both 2018) proved to be a turning point in her career and earned her the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress. She later starred in the Telugu action comedies Devadas (2018) and Sarileru Neekevvaru (2020), and the romance Bheeshma (2020). Rashmika's first Tamil release was the action drama Sulthan (2021), and had her top-grosser in the language with the action picture Varisu (2023).

Rashmika earned wider recognition as the female lead in the action film Pushpa: The Rise (2021). After playing a supporting role in the period drama Sita Ramam (2022), she expanded to Hindi cinema and had her highest-grossing release with the action drama Animal (2023).

Early and personal life

Rashmika Mandanna was born on 5 April 1996 to Suman and Madan Mandanna into a Kodava Hindu family in Virajpet, a town in Kodagu district, Karnataka.[1][2][3] Her father owns a coffee estate and a function hall in her hometown, and her mother is a homemaker.[4] She has a younger sister, Shiman.[5] As a child, Rashmika's family struggled financially, and had difficulties finding a home and paying rent; according to Rashmika, her parents could not afford to buy her toys and the experience has continued to influence her relationship with money.[6]

Rashmika attended Coorg Public School, a boarding school in Gonikoppal.[7] During this phase of her life, Rashmika was often misunderstood due to her difficulties with communication, making connecting with her peers difficult.[8] Rashmika credits her mother for being stabilising influence in her life and has said her mother is Rashmika's "biggest strength".[8]

Rashmika studied for a bachelor's degree in Psychology, Journalism and English Literature at M. S. Ramaiah College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Bangalore.[9] Despite her parents' doubts about Rashmika's pursuit of an acting career due to her unassertive personality, her parents granted her permission to go ahead with her plans.[10] In 2014, Rashmika was awarded The Times of India's Clean & Clear Fresh Face that recognizes individuals with the greatest potential for future success;[11] the award was presented to her by Akshay Kumar and she was subsequently made a brand ambassador for Clean & Clear as part of the winning reward.[12][13] This was followed by a brief career in modelling, which Rashmika believed would ease her transition into acting.[13]

Rashmika began dating Rakshit Shetty, her co-star in Kirik Party, during the making of the film, and they got engaged on 3 July 2017 at a private party in her hometown Virajpet.[14] They ended their engagement in September 2018, citing compatibility issues.[15]

Career

Early work and breakthrough (2016–2020)

Rashmika made her acting debut in 2016 opposite Rakshit Shetty in Rishab Shetty’s Kannada romantic comedy Kirik Party, which went on to become one of the highest-grossing Kannada films.[16][17][18] Shetty offered her the role after coming across her following a pageant win.[19] Sunayana Suresh of The Times of India praised her performance, writing "Rashmika Mandanna as Saanvi is easily that pin-up girl in college and she breathes her path".[20] She earned the SIIMA Award for Best Debut Actress.[21] Rashmika later revealed that if the film had failed, she would have returned home to manage her father’s business.[22] In 2017, she appeared in two Kannada films— the action picture Anjani Putra and romantic comedy Chamak.[23][24] In the former, The Indian Express' Manoj Kumar R thought that she had been reduced to "a hero's arm candy", while in the latter, The Times of India's Suresh commended her as a "revelation".[25][26] Both films emerged as commercially successful.[27][28]

 
Rashmika at a press conference for Dear Comrade in 2019, for which she won the SIIMA Best Actress award

Expanding to Telugu cinema in 2018, Rashmika starred opposite Naga Shaurya in the comedy drama Chalo, which tells the story of two lovers of opposing groups attempting to navigate their relationship in a segregated fictional village.[29][30] In a positive review, The Hindu’s Stivathsan Nadadhur praised the film's "humorous" approach on a pensive theme and was appreciative of Rashmika's comic timing.[31] The film was her fourth consecutive box-office success in two years.[32] She then took on the title role of Geetha in the Venky Kudumula-directed Telugu romantic comedy Geetha Govindam, opposite Vijay Deverakonda.[33][34] Despite its shoestring budget, the film grossed over ₹120 crore, emerging a financial success and Rashmika’s first film to gross over ₹1 billion (US$13 million) at the domestic box-office.[35][36] Although critics were pleased with the chemistry between Deverakonda and Rashmika, many found the picture’s plot to be repetitive;[37][38] in a mixed review, Firstpost's Haricharan Pudipeddi wrote, "another reason why the film works in spite of a very done-to-death plot is due to the refreshing on screen chemistry of Deverakonda and Rashmika, who make it an enjoyable watch".[39] She earned the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress – South.[40][41] Rashmika's final release of 2018 was the Sriram Adittya directorial Devadas where she was disregarded as ornamental by Sify and The Indian Express.[42][43][44]

In 2019, Rashmika returned to Kannada cinema with the Darshan-starrer Yajamana, which follows a man that attempts to prevent a relentless business tycoon from exploiting a village of its oil.[45][46] The film was met with mixed reviews from critics, with the age gap between Rashmika and Darshan criticised by Karthik Keramalu of Film Companion;[47][48] she earned another Best Actress award at SIIMA.[49] Rashmika's second release of the year was the Telugu romantic action drama Dear Comrade, where she portrayed a skillful cricket player who, following sexist remarks and discrimination, loses her passion for the sport.[50][51] In preparation, she underwent five months of "rigorous physical training" to authentically emulate the body language of a cricketer before filming commenced.[52] The project marked her second with Deverakonda, however, they were unable to replicate the success of Geetha Govindam and it ultimately emerged as a box-office failure.[53][54] The film also caused controversy due to a scene featuring a kiss between Deverakonda and Rashmika;[55] when asked about the scene, Rashmika said that she was simply carrying out what the script required of her, and that one scene should not dictate the entire film.[56]

She began 2020 opposite Mahesh Babu in the Telugu action comedy Sarileru Neekevvaru, which went on to become one of the top-grossing Telugu films.[57] Despite this, Rashmika’s role was poorly received by critics;[58][59] Sangeetha Devi Dundoo of The Hindu bemoaned that her character was used solely for plot convenience and did not offer her much scope to perform as "all she gets to do is fawn over Mahesh".[60] In the same year, she starred in the Telugu romantic comedy Bheeshma opposite Nithiin.[61][62] Despite its divergent reception critically, the film achieved considerable success at the box-office.[63] While Film Companion’s Keramalu dismissed Rashmika as an "accessory", Firstpost’s Hemanth Kumar argued that she "shines in her role".[64][65]

Career expansion (2021–present)

In 2021, her first release was as a virtuous school teacher in the Kannada Dhruva Sarja-starrer Pogaru.[66][67] She was criticised for taking on a role in a movie that perpetuated "stereotypes that demean women" by Vivek M V of Deccan Herald.[68] In her second release of the year, she made her debut in Tamil cinema opposite Karthi in the commercially successful Sulthan.[69] Though Pudipeddi of Hindustan Times thought that Rashmika had been "sidelined", M Suganth of The Times of India commended her on a "charming debut".[70] Her final appearance of the year was in the critically and commercially successful Pushpa: The Rise starring Allu Arjun.[71][72] For the film, she learnt the Chittoor dialect of Telugu.[73] Set against the backdrop of the smuggling syndicate of red sandalwood, the film marked a significant breakthrough in Rashmika’s career, earning her national recognition for her role as Srivalli, Arjun’s love interest.[74][75] Film Companion's Mukesh Manjunath found that she did her "best to imbue bubbliness and the innocence required in these testosterone-charged surroundings" but bemoaned that the brown-facing of her character was "unnecessary and ineffective".[76] Rashmika has credited the success of Pushpa: The Rise with giving her access to a wider variety of roles.[77]

 
Rashmika at an event promoting Pushpa: The Rise in 2022

The following year, Rashmika starred in three films, starting with the unremarkable Telugu feature Aadavallu Meeku Johaarlu opposite Sharwanand.[78][79] Keen to showcase her acting skills, she took on a supporting role in the Dulquer Salmaan and Mrunal Thakur-led Telugu romantic drama Sita Ramam.[80][81] The film received generally positive critical reviews and was a success at the box-office.[82] In his review for Hindustan Times, Pudipeddi appreciated Rashmika’s nuanced portrayal of "a character that goes through a transformation".[83] In her final release of the year, she appeared alongside Amitabh Bachchan as a grief-struck daughter struggling to cope with the loss of her mother (played by Neena Gupta) in Vikas Bahl's comedy drama Goodbye, marking her debut into Hindi cinema.[84][85] Rashmika was reluctant to accept the role as she found it difficult to essay a character with dismissive views towards spiritualism as it significantly contrasted her own faith in these beliefs.[86] Though a box-office bomb, her performance was generally well-received with Devesh Sharma of Filmfare appreciating the subtlety she brought to her scenes, further praising her ability to "leave an impact even in this non-glamorous debut".[87][88] She earned the Zee Cine Award for Best Female Debut.[89]

2023 saw Rashmika in three action films—Varisu, Mission Majnu and Animal. In Varisu, she starred opposite Vijay but was, once again, dismissed as "arm candy" by The Times of India’s M Suganth.[90] Rashmika labelled it a "conscious choice" to star in the film despite having a role with "nothing to do", due to the recognition she would receive from Vijay's celebrity.[91] The film went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of Tamil cinema.[92] The Hindi spy thriller Mission Majnu saw Rashmika as a visually-impaired woman opposite Sidharth Malhotra.[93][94][95] In preparation, she underwent "special training to understand the body language and awareness of visually-impaired people".[96] Even so, her character was poorly received and the film was panned by critics due to its unduly nationalistic views.[97][98] In a scathing review for Film Companion, Deepanjana Pal dismissed Rashmika as "unimportant".[99]

In Animal, Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s controversial Hindi action film starring Ranbir Kapoor, Rashmika starred as a dutiful housewife.[100] She replaced Parineeti Chopra as Vanga felt she was better suited for the role.[101] The film's content led certain commentators to accuse the film of glorifying toxic masculinity and misogyny.[102][103][104] WION’s Shomini Sen praised Rashmika for salvaging a poorly written character that was constrained by Vanga’s focus on "a skewed version of an alpha male".[105] Despite polarising reviews from critics, Animal proved to be a major commercial success with a gross of over ₹9 billion (US$110 million), the eighth highest-grossing Indian film of all time.[106][107][108] Following criticism regarding her character's perceived complicity in allowing misogyny, Rashmika defended her role.[109] She stated that Geetanjali was "the only force at home holding her family together", and described her as "pure, real, unfiltered, strong and raw".[109]

Rashmika will next star in four Telugu films and two Hindi films: she will reprise her role as Srivalli in the sequel Pushpa 2: The Rule, star alongside Dhanush in Sekhar Kammula's Tamil-Telugu bilingual film Kubera and headline the female-led films, Rainbow and The Girlfriend;[110][111][112][113] she will portray Yesubai Bhonsale, opposite Vicky Kaushal's Sambhaji, in the historical drama Chaava and star alongside Salman Khan in AR Murugadoss’ action picture Sikandar.[114][115]

In the media

 
Rashmika delivering a speech following her win of the SIIMA award for Best Actress (Critics) – Kannada in 2021

Sneha Menon Desai of Film Companion took note of Rashmika's sincerity and "down-to-earth personality", while Anupama Chopra, also from Film Companion, described Rashmika as "intelligent" and acknowledged her ability to resonate with audiences.[116][117]

Rashmika was placed at the 24th position in Bangalore Times' 25 Most Desirable Women of 2016 and also appeared in the Bangalore Times' 30 Most Desirable women of 2017.[118][119] In October 2021, she placed first in Forbes India's most influential stars on Instagram in South Cinema.[120] In 2024, Rashmika was featured by Forbes India in their 30 Under 30 list.[121] As of March 2024, Rashmika is the most-followed Kannada actress on Instagram.[122][123]

Rashmika is an endorser for several brands and products, including McDonald's,[124] Dabur Honey,[125] Cashify,[126] Kalyan Jewellers[127] and Bisk Farm[128] among others. In 2023, she was made the first Indian ambassador for Japanese fashion brand Onitsuka Tiger. She and Tiger Shroff were named "strategic partners" of American streaming service Crunchyroll for their efforts to expand in India.[129][130] As an ambassador for the Onitsuka Tiger, she attended Milan Fashion Week and walked the runway, while for Crunchyroll, she presented an award at the 8th Crunchyroll Anime Awards in Japan.[131][132]

In November 2023, a deepfake of Rashmika was posted on the platform X by digital marketer Eemani Naveen.[133] Rashmika’s face was morphed on to a sexually suggestive Instagram video posted by a British-Indian influencer named Zara Patel.[134] In response, Rashmika released a statement saying she was "[scared] not only for me, but also for each one of us who today is vulnerable to so much harm because of how technology is being misused".[135] She received support from prominent figures in Indian cinema, including her Goodbye co-star Amitabh Bachchan, who spoke out against the dangers of such deepfakes.[136] In December 2023, Delhi Police "communicated with Meta to obtain the URL ID associated with the account responsible for generating the video", and filed a First information report (FIR) in relation to the case.[137] In January 2024, Naveen was arrested; he claimed he had created the deepfake in order to gain followers on Instagram.[138]

Filmography

Key
Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Title Role(s) Language(s) Notes Ref.
2016 Kirik Party Saanvi Joseph Kannada [139]
2017 Anjani Putra Geetha Kannada [140]
Chamak Kushi Kannada [141]
2018 Chalo L. Karthika Telugu [142]
Geetha Govindam Geetha Telugu [143]
Devadas Pooja Telugu [144]
2019 Yajamana Kaveri Kannada [145]
Dear Comrade Aparna "Lilly" Devi Telugu [146]
2020 Sarileru Neekevvaru Samskruthi Telugu [147]
Bheeshma Chaithra Telugu [148]
2021 Pogaru Geetha Kannada [149]
Sulthan Rukmani Tamil [150]
Pushpa: The Rise Srivalli Telugu [151]
2022 Aadavallu Meeku Johaarlu Aadhya Telugu [152]
Sita Ramam Afreen/Waheeda Telugu [153]
Goodbye Tara Bhalla Hindi [154]
2023 Varisu Divya Tamil [155]
Mission Majnu Nasreen Hussain Hindi [156]
Animal Geetanjali Singh Hindi [157]
2024 Pushpa 2: The Rule Srivalli Telugu Filming [158]
Rainbow TBA Telugu Filming [159]
The Girlfriend TBA Telugu Filming [160]
Chaava Yesubai Bhonsale Hindi Filming [161]
TBA Kubera TBA Tamil
Telugu
Filming [162]

Music video

Year Song Language(s) Artist Ref.
2021 "Top Tucker" Hindi/Tamil Badshah [163]

Awards and nominations

Rashmika has been the recipient of four SIIMA Awards from 11 nominations: Best Female Debut for Kirik Party (2016), and three Best Actress awards for Dear Comrade, Yajamana (both 2019) and Pushpa: The Rise (2021).[164][165]

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