Sudeep’s much-anticipated film Pailwaan has hit the screens. The S Krishna directorial also stars Aakanksha Singh, Suniel Shetty and Sushant Singh. The film delves into the life of a wrestler (Sudeep) who is spotted by Suniel Shetty’s character. He guides and mentors him to compete in a championship. The multi-lingual film is releasing in Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam.
Before making it to films, Aakanksha enjoyed a successful television stint, having played the lead in popular shows like Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha and Gulmohar Grand. The actor was also part of Alia Bhatt-Varun Dhawan starrer Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya.
The physiotherapist-turned-actor from Jaipur made her Tollywood debut in 2017 with Malli Raava and then went to be a part of Devadas. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Aakanksha Singh shared that she is ‘excited and a little nervous’ about her Kannada debut. The 30-year-old also opened up about Pailwaan, working with Sudeep and what made her move to the south Indian film industry.
Excerpts from the conversation:
How did Pailwaan happen?
The producer of the film called me one fine day. Since I had no links in the Kannada film industry, I was not very sure of the authenticity of the call. She narrated the story to me but somewhere I took it all very lightly. Only when her office called, I knew that this was something serious. I then went to Bangalore, where we did a look test. The team felt that I perfectly fit the character and we worked on the dates. That’s how it all happened, in a very simple manner (smiles).
What was your reaction when you got to know you are paired opposite Sudeep? How was it working with him?
Initially, when we were just discussing the film, I wasn’t aware that he is the male lead. Only during the narration, they mentioned ‘makkhi’ (laughs), that’s when I got to know that I will be opposite Sudeep. I was very excited about the same, knowing that he is a star and this will turn out to be a big film. It was indeed a happy moment for me. As for working with him, we all know he is an amazing actor. At times, he would help me with small nuances that bettered my performances. He is a very dedicated actor and I really learnt a lot from him. He is a great performer with a great personality.
As an actor making her debut in the Kannada film industry, did you feel sad that you were missing from the trailer?
I have always believed that a film is a team effort and the makers know how it should be marketed. I have done my work and if it’s good, I know it will open more doors for me. Also, I took it as a positive factor as most people are now curious to know about my part in the film. I must add that while it’s a male-oriented film, the audience would be surprised to see my role. It is because of her character that the film takes a new turn. It’s not there just to add some glamour.
Earlier, the idea of a south heroine was someone who is voluptuous, sexy and only part of songs. Do you feel times have changed and female actors are getting meaty roles?
I have been very fortunate from my first film, which was not only critically acclaimed but the audience loved it too. And it was not just a role for the sake of it but had equal weightage as the hero. I think times are definitely changing with scripts now focusing on female parts too. And with Bollywood taking inspiration and remaking so many films, I think it will all change only for the better.
You made your Bollywood debut with Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya. What made you head down south?
I was a little apprehensive of how my role in Badrinath would be taken, considering it was a small one. But I was surprised that so many people took notice and appreciated my work. I was really expecting more work after the film. Unfortunately, whatever calls I got were for the friend’s part and not the main lead. I did Badrinath to experience films and learn something. Also, it was a Dharma film. But I did did not want to do the same things over and over again. That’s when I was offered my first Telugu film. I really liked the script and my character, and so decided to do it. I have always maintained that language and medium will never be a barrier for me to do good roles.
How challenging is it to shoot in a different language?
It is really tough as your mind is saying something else while speaking. But I am a very quick learner and so it has never been a problem for me. I always ask for the script beforehand so that I can do my homework. I have also been really lucky with the people I work. Their assistance made it much smoother for me. For Pailwaan, we shot in Kannada and then dubbed in the other four languages. I am also shooting for a sports drama, that’s been shot simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu. So every project comes with its own challenges.
Lastly, you started your journey with the small screen. Do you miss being on television?
I owe everything to TV. It made me what I am today. But everyone has a journey and I am really happy with how my career has moved forward. I want to keep trying different roles and not block my month, as expected when working on TV. I am getting good roles in films but would be happy to do television if someone has a content-rich role for me. However, I can’t do saas-bahu drama. But I do miss television.