Asin, Bollywood's dreamgirl

Bollywood actress Asin Thottumkal, generally known just by her first name, looked every inch the glamorous diva treading the red carpet for the premiere of London Dreams in Dubai on Monday. A woman of few words, she glided down the Grand Cineplex in a floor-sweeping green gown and clutched the arm of her hunky colleague Salman Khan.

But a few hours prior to this public appearance, she presents a different persona altogether. Greeting us warmly, she takes the time to learn our names and goes out of her way to prove that she is unaffected by the fame and glamour that has come knocking at her door. Her debut Bollywood film, Ghajini, featuring Aamir Khan in the lead, was one of the biggest blockbusters last year and catapulted her into the Bollywood A-league. With some plum assignments in her kitty, she has the added distinction of working with some of the most influential Khans — the latest being Salman — in Bollywood.

"Working with them [Aamir and Salman] was not very different from each other. The thing is, I come with a clear mind and tried my best not to come with any preconceived notions. Yes, they are hugely popular. Aamir has proved that he is a successful director, producer and actor. But when you meet them in person, any anxiety that you had that they will be moody or have a temper tantrum or starry egos vanishes," she says.

"They are huge stars, but they are not really affected by stardom."

With only kind words to say about both Khans, Asin adds that the rest of the Bollywood fraternity has welcomed her with open arms. Apparently, established stars including Preity Zinta and Sushmita Sen went the extra mile to make her feel welcome. "I am extremely friendly with everybody — all my co-stars, contemporaries and seniors. I have a great rapport with all of them. I think it all started with the awards season. That is when I got the chance to interact with all of them. The Star Screen Awards was one such starting point."

At this year's Star Screen Awards, the spotlight was trained on Asin, who went home with the Most Promising Newcomer Award. "That night, I met Amitji [Amitabh Bachchan], Abhi [Abhishek Bachchan], Ash [Aishwarya Rai Bachchan] — everybody. Preity came up to me and said: ‘Hey, welcome to our Bollywood family.' I think was really a sweet thing to do."

Admiration

Meanwhile, former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen gave her a warm hug and took the time to compliment her on her debut film. The admiration was not one-sided. Asin adds she belongs to a breed of actors who feels there is enough space for everybody to survive. "I actually went up to my contemporaries like Sonam [Kapoor] and Anushka [Sharma] and got to know them better. We have absolutely no problems with each other."

As congenial as ever, Asin is equally smitten with the business of Bollywood and its musical tilt. "I love the dancing and running around the trees bit. Some actresses may look down upon it, but I enjoy it thoroughly. I want to be known as an entertainer who can do both light-hearted roles and performance-oriented ones."

Displaying a voracious appetite for meaty roles, Asin has no qualms about admitting that she wished she were a part of the award-winning drama Taare Zameen Par. "It's one of my favourite Bollywood movies. I would have loved to do it, provided there was something for a female to do in the movie," says Asin. The Aamir Khan-led coming-of-age film dissects the problems faced by children with dyslexia. But all these musings take a back seat when she speaks about her latest film, London Dreams, and how it will be received.

"I am curious to know how the audience is going to react to London Dreams.

"I am excited, nervous and a bit numb."

Asin On her role in London Dreams

"Priya is an exaggerated version of two aspects of my personality. In the film I play a traditional girl at home only to manifest into a rock chick once she steps out of the house."

Did you know?

Asin loves to read. Between all the globe-trotting, she has actually managed to finish Chetan Bhagat's 2 States — The Story of My Marriage.
She was on the phone with Aamir Khan yesterday, who told her his next movie, Three Idiots, will hit the theatre on the same day as Ghajini's first anniversary — December 25. "I wish we could do something fun and exciting together again," she says of Aamir.
She keeps her trophies hidden in a DVD closet. "It's just not me to display my awards on a mantlepiece. I prefer it hidden.

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