The southern film industry is far more traditional than Bollywood, which caters to a wider audience and gives opportunities to women in technical fields, says actress Asin Thottumkal after a five-year stint in Hindi films.
"The south Indian film industry is more traditional. This reflects in their work. The cultural differences, language and approach are completely different, while Bollywood is more open and caters to a wider audience," Asin said in a telephonic interview from Mumbai.
There is another key difference, she added. Down south "people are ready to accept you the way you are. They appreciate and value simplicity. You don't have to wear make-up or be in your glamorous image when you make public appearances".
"Whereas in Bollywood, it's about creating a star image, a style quotient that you have to carry throughout. You have to be in the glamorous image all the time," said the actress who made a big name for herself in Tamil and Telugu films before she moved to Hindi cinema.
Asin, who debuted opposite Aamir Khan in the 2008 hit Ghajini, said Bollywood gives a chance to women in varied spheres.
"On the sets, I see a lot of young women technicians, women camerapersons, hairdressers, makeup artists, dress designers, stage designers and technicians... It's not the same in the south," she said.
The 27-year-old however feels the barrier between the two industries is slowly diminishing.
Bollywood filmmakers have taken inspiration from Tamil and Telugu films and remade them in Hindi. Yuva, Singham, Rowdy Rathore and Wanted are some examples.
She is glad "the trend is growing at a fast pace".
"The main purpose is to entertain viewers and that is undoubtedly being done. I also like the fact that a lot of young writers and directors are coming in with fresh original scripts," she added.
Aamir, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar... Asin has romanced some of the top-notch actors of Hindi cinema on the big screen in the last five years and says teaming up with big names helps in growth.
She says she feels "blessed" that Hindi movie buffs had accepted her. "It's not easy."
"Those who migrate from Tollywood or Kollywood or freshers do not really get to work with A-listers. Working with them helps in growth. I am lucky. I worked with Aamir Khan and A R Rahman in my first film Ghajini. But I have also put in a lot of hard work to be where I am today," she said.
Before entering Hindi films, she was already a star in the south Indian film industry and featured in films like Chakram, Varalaru and Dasavathaaram.
Apart from movies, the 27-year-old keeps herself busy with endorsements, but her wish list includes more Bollywood projects.
Asked what kind of roles she was eyeing, Asin said: "I would like to do well-written fresh characters. So far I have played a fun loving girl-next-door. Now I would like to try something different, something more challenging and exciting."
Ready, Housefull 2 and Bol Bachchan are some of her recent Hindi releases.
Many film stars are dabbling in television but the small screen is not for Asin.
"I haven't thought about it. It's good that film personalities are appearing on TV as hosts or judges but I am not ready for it. I won't do it," she said.