South Indian actress Namitha has become a sex symbol superstar in Tamil and Telugu films, which are outside the mainstream Hindi "Bollywood" industry. Born Namitha (or Namita) Mukesh Vankawala, she was crowned Miss Surat and competed in the 2001 Miss India pageant before getting her first film roles. Namitha is a voluptuous Punjabi beauty with a flawless moon-shaped face and a generous bustline, and though some accounts have it that South India prefers full-figured women, the national tabloid press has relentlessly hounded her over her weight.

She reports that she generally eats whatever she likes, harboring a particular fondness for home cooking and "non-vegetarian food" (horrors!), believing that her fans like her to be buxom. A Google search of the gossip columns reveals the history of Namitha's fluctuating poundage, from a deliberate gain to reprise a classic sex siren role to slimming down to land other roles. But she seems to keep landing back on the happy side of plump. I've found a few Namitha movies on DVD, and they're hugely entertaining and bewildering for the Indian cinema neophyte like me. Sometimes she's trotted out only as eye candy in the singing and dancing numbers, only to disappear during the dialogue scenes. I'll keeping watching in hopes of seeing more of Namitha, in more ways than one.

Namitha Gallery

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