With a businessman dad and a surgeon mum, Asin was an unlikely candidate for the arc lights. It was her striking features that propelled the Kochi-born lass into modelling at the age of 14.
Her first film, Sathyan Anthikkad's Narendra Makan Jayakanthan Vaka, followed at 15. She did it for a lark but still thought she'd sit for the civil services exam. Films were, as she puts it, an extension
of her "extra curricular activities". Then the acting bug bit.
Natural exuberance and inherent talent combine to create an unstudied, spontaneous approach to the craft. Acting school's not for Asin. Her mentors have been her directors and co-actors. Working with behemoth Kamal Haasan in Dasavatharam -- she played the wife of an Iyengar priest as well as a modern Iyengar girl -- and a cast and crew from all over the world taught her the final nuances of filmmaking.
'No actor before Kamal Haasan has played 10 roles in a single film. The technical know how that comes from a film like that is fantastic.'
A protean, chameleon-like ability to adapt to different situations and roles is what has enabled the actress to lead her cinema gypsy life, working and living between diverse film industries and cultures. Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and now Hindi. Having a flair for languages helps.
The sultry Malayalee picked up Tamil, Telugu and Kannada after she joined films. As for Hindi, her north Indian friends at Naval Public School in Kerala exposed her to the language and how it's spoken.
Playing Kalpana, the funball with a heart of gold and derringdo to boot, was a dream Bollywood debut for the 23-year-old who declined several plum offers before Aamir Khan made the famous phone call to her in her Chennai hotel room in late 2005 asking her whether she spoke Hindi. She told him she did and to her surprised delight, found herself cast as Kalpana all over again.
"I loved the graph of Kalpana's character. Besides, to star opposite Aamir Khan in my very first Hindi film was irresistible. People don't get that opportunity in their entire careers."
Seventeen films old and winner of two South Filmfare actress awards for her performances in 2003 Telugu hit Amma Nanna O, Tamil Ammayi and Tamil Ghajini and the state award for Shivamani co-starring Nagarjuna, Asin is witnessing the remake of her stardom after the thundering success of her Hindi debut.
"It's like watching the rerun of a film," she smiles, insisting her life is much the same post-Ghajini. "The only difference is that people have started to recognise me here. I have seen enough success before to not get carried away. My feet are firmly planted on the ground."
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