Debut, breakthrough and critical acclaim (2010-2012)
Samantha in her early career
Samantha began her professional film career with Gautham Vasudev Menon's Telugu film, Ye Maaya Chesave (201. The film, simultaneously made in Tamil as Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa (201, created much anticipation prior to release, due primarily to the first-time-collaboration between Gautham Menon and composer A. R. Rahman. The actress successfully auditioned and was signed up for the project in mid August 2009 and worked on the film in India and the United States, while the film was released on 26 February 2010. Post-release, she revealed that Menon played a "crucial part in moulding her as an actress", teaching her how to remain natural and comfortable in front of the screen, even if she had no dialogues in a scene. In the film, Samantha played the lead character Jessie, a Malayali Saint Thomas Christian girl living in Hyderabad, with whom the male protagonist, played by Naga Chaitanya, falls in love. Upon release of the film, Samantha received very positive reviews for her portrayal, with the film itself garnering much critical acclaim. Critics at Sify praised Samantha as a "scene-stealer" and her beauty as "alluring", adding, "she was the girl to watch out for." Jeevi from Idlebrain.com, wrote that "Samantha's debut is one of the best heroine debuts in Telugu cinema" and noted that the "minute expressions she gave spoke volumes about her", whilst labelling the film as a "classic". Ye Maaya Chesave fetched her the Filmfare Award for Best Debut Actress and a Nandi Award. #Samantha appeared in a cameo role in the Tamil version of the film, portraying an assistant director who becomes an actress. Both the Telugu and the Tamil versions of the films proved to be grand successes, propelling Samantha to sign on for bigger projects. She followed up her collaborations with Gautham Menon and A. R. Rahman by appearing in the music video for the World Classical Tamil Conference 2010 promotional song, Semmozhiyaana Tamizh Mozhiyaam, which Menon directed and Rahman composed.