Interview Template 2
Aswini
A Bharathi Raja discovery, Aswini had started her career in films with her mentor's ‘Pudhu Nellu Pudhu Nathu’ in 1991. And then offers poured in from Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films, which include the award winning Malayalam movie, ‘Manichitra Thalu’ and the Chiranjeevi starrer, ‘Hitler’ in Telugu. Her recent releases are ‘Kallalaghar’ (Tamil) and the box office hit ‘Police’ (Telugu). Besides pursuing her career in films, Aswini, today is a sought after artiste on the small screen too. A brief chat with the petite actress:

Q: We hear that you walked into movies, after a modeling assignment? Was your family involved in the movie field before you?

A: I was then in school, in my final year. I did a couple of modeling assignments along with my classmates, for a Malayalam magazine. I did modeling for a salwar suit. Bharathi Raja saw the magazine and offered me the role in ‘Pudu Nellu Pudu Nathu’ where I shared the acting honours with Sukanya. My family has had no connection with movies.

Q: Any regrets for having left your studies midway?

A: No doubt, due to the long schedules of the film, I had to bunk studies. But I have not left studies altogether. Right now, I am doing BA (Literature) through correspondence.

Q: How was your experience working with Bharathi Raja in your first film itself?

A: Oh! It’s a dream debut for any aspiring actress or actor. I entered films at a raw age. Acting in Bharathi Raja’s film is like coming out with flying colours from an institute. It’s a rewarding experience.

Q: Tell us about your foray into Malayalam movies?

A: Ah! It’s my mother-tongue and I have done about 16 films opposite all the superstars of the region-Mamooty, Mohan Lal, Suresh Gopi. And I’ve done films with topnotch directors like Fazil, Joshi and Teja.

Q: We hear that you made your debut into Telugu films through Mouli’s ‘Aunty’ with Anand in the movie?

A: Mouli introduced me to the Telugu audience. Later I played good roles in ‘Hitler’ where I was cast as Chiranjeevi’s sister. ‘Pellichesikundam’, in which I played the heroine’s friend through whom the central point or message of the movie is conveyed and ‘Police’ where I played a police officer’s wife. I am happy that all these films went on to become big hits. In fact, ‘Police’ was a high risk proposition by the producer.
Srihari was all along playing villain and the producer cast him as a hero for the first time. No doubt, I am popular on small screen but my role ends half way through, though it’s a vital one for the film. The producer’s gamble paid off. But do you know how I got the role? It was only through my small screen image which is surprising but true. Normally it is the other way round, artistes enter the small screen after they find the going tough on the silver screen. But in my case it was the other way round. I got my film offers in Telugu, be it, ‘Peelichesukundam’ or ‘Police’ only through my two tele-serials in Telugu – ‘Antharangaalu’ and ‘Kalankitha’.

Q: We hear that these two serials earned you the title, ‘Tragedy Queen’?

A: (smiles) It’s true, both the roles are tear-jerkers. In some scenes I didn’t even have to use glycerine. The tears came out from my eyes as I enacted the scenes, naturally. In ‘Kalankitha’, I played the role of an actress and her daughter (a dual role). The ups and downs in the life of an actress form the central theme. In ‘Antharangalu’, a complex theme, I played the role of Padmini. Today, I am known as ‘Padmini’ and Kala in Andhra Pradesh. This if nothing else proves the popularity of these serials. I won a couple of awards- The Yuvakalavahini and Vaartha-Vasavi awards for my roles in these serials. I was nominated for the State TV Awards, but some how missed the bus. I hope I’ll be winning one from the Government soon.

Q: And ‘Antharnethram’ your latest serial?

A: It’s directed by my first TV episode director in Telugu, Mr. Vinay Kumar. I made my entry into Telugu channels with ETV’s ‘Ammakaniko Ammayi’, which is part of an ongoing serial ‘Vasundhara’. Later Mr. Vinay Kumar had directed me in the first 60 episodes of ‘Antharangalu’. So when he approached me with this offer in ‘Antharnethram’, I was only too happy to accept it. In fact, I’d like to concentrate more on serials henceforth, as they are offering me more job satisfaction. Of course, if some good role comes my way in films, I will be game to accept it.

Q: Is it because you are not getting meaty roles in movies, that you have set your sights on the small screen?

A: The answer is partly yes. After my break into films, thanks to Bharathi Raja and after a couple of Tamil and Malayalam movies, I found myself suddenly out of work. For three years, I found myself unemployed. Then a well-wisher suggested why not try television. And my first serial was ‘Vidudalai’ directed by Sripriya. I had acted with Radhika in the serial. Later I did a serial for Revathy – ‘Chinna Chinna Assai’ and Archana directed it. It was a totally novel concept. Revathy entrusted the job of directing the serials episodes to each one of the actresses. Soon I found myself with the job of selecting my story and directing it too. The entire thing is meant to expose the actresses to the art of film-making and gives them a chance to exhibit their talent.

Q: Which episode did you direct?

A: ‘Chellam’. I chose a blind girl as the central character. Earlier I had played such role in ‘Ammakaniko Ammayi’. It was an exhilarating and exciting experience to do the post production work involved in the making of a serial. That was when I understood what a director undergoes while trying to get the best out of us.

Q: Tell us something about ‘Nirangal’, the daily soap which won you rave reviews?

A: Before telling you that, I would like to confess, that I am an ardent fan of Revathy. In fact, apart from Jaya Bachchan, she is my role model. Though, earlier I had an opportunity to figure in her home production, I didn’t share the acting honours with her. But ‘Nirangal’ gave me the opportunity. We play parallel roles in the mega serial produced by Revathy. I’ve got four stages to my character in the serial – a teenager, working woman, married woman and then as a convict who commits a murder. Revathy plays the role of my lawyer. It’s an engrossing serial and I am particularly thankful to Revathy for fulfilling my long-cherished wish of acting with her.

Q: At a very young age, you played sob-sister or tragedy queen. Don’t you think you are missing the glamour part of show biz and perhaps, that is the stumbling block as far as your movie career is concerned?

A: I don’t feel comfortable in the type of glamour roles you have mentioned. One needs to be comfortable playing roles that demand even an iota of body exposure. Otherwise you can’t put your mind to it. And on my part, I won’t look nice in mini-skirts. Moreover, as I said, my role models are Revathy and Jaya Bachchan. I would like to emulate them.

Q: How do you react to gossip?

A: Listen with one ear and let it out through the other. When you know about yourself, why bother about what the others say. Well, I am not denying that it’s a kind of a publicity too.

Q: And how do you react to criticism? Who are your first critics?

A: My parents. They are my best critics. I first turn towards them, as they are the ones who never say anything but the truth.

Q: So you are not a pampered child?

A: Pampered yes, to a certain extent. But true criticism is a must to keep my foot firmly planted on the ground. That I get from them in sufficient doses.

Q: Any aims and goals that you would like to achieve?

A: The very word aim sounds funny to me. I have not set myself any goals to achieve. Right now I am in a fairly good position and I would like this to continue. Playing meaty roles in both films and television is what I want most and my ultimate happiness is to derive job satisfaction from whatever I do.