Physiotherapist turned actor Aakanksha Singh is just three films old, but has already worked with some of the biggest names in south Indian cinema. While she starred opposite Nagarjuna in the Telugu film Devadas, she’s now acting opposite superstar Sudeep, in the mega-budget, multi-lingual Pailwaan.
Ask her what’s on her mind a few days before Pailwaan’s release and she says, “I am excited to see the reviews and how people react. It’s my first multi-lingual release and it’s going to have a huge reach. My character Rukmini is an emotional girl and her transition through the film is superb. She has two shades in the film–in the first half, she’s completely different from the second one. It’s not a regular ‘heroine’ role. I got to portray different shades in the film.”
On working with big names like Suneil Shetty and Sudeep in her third film, she says, “I never felt like I was working with someone big as it was always very normal on the set. I’m very lucky and fortunate to have played characters opposite superstars in the industry. It takes time for you to actually acknowledge what’s happening to you, but when it’s happened, you realise ‘wow, it’s happened to me’. I never felt anything while shooting, but now, I sit back and think ‘I’ve worked with great actors early in my career when most people don’t get the chance. They’re amazing people to work with and there was a certain comfort. I learned a lot from them. Both Suneil sir and Sudeep sir are dedicated actors and, in the trailer, you can see how Sudeep sir has transformed himself for the role. Suneil sir is so humble.”
While she’s done two films in Telugu, Aakanksha says that she was a little nervous about her debut in Kannada. “But everything went well. The director helped me out and after that, I didn’t feel as scared about speaking the lines,” says the Jaipur-bred artiste, who’s also huge on Instagram.
Before she ventured into films, Aakanksha was a physiotherapist-turned-TV star. Theatre runs in the family as her mother was a theatre artiste too. “I started doing theatre at the age of 15. In 2009, I joined my physiotherapy course and in 2011, I got a chance to audition for a TV show. I recorded it in my hometown Jaipur and sent it. I was chosen for the show,” says the actor, who had no plans of moving to Mumbai initially. Recollecting the comic banter she’d have with her mum when in Jaipur, she says, “Earlier, when I wanted to watch something on TV, mom would switch it off – she was a strict government teacher who’d say – ‘tomorrow, I’ve to go to school and you will watch TV and sleep till late.’ But when I bagged my first show, I was on TV at 10.30 pm on the same channel, and I’d pull her leg saying, ‘Well, now you will watch my show and won’t feel sleepy right?’. I guess the actor was always in me, but I made no conscious effort to do anything about it,” says Aakanksha, who topped her university in her first year.
For someone who’s relatively new to the film industry, Aakanksha talks about her marital status and even posts adorable pictures of her and husband Kunal Sain. “I’m working more after I got married. Infact, Kunal is managing my work for the past few years. If he hadn’t been so supportive, I wouldn’t be doing so much. He’s really encouraging, and he feels elated when he watches me onscreen. He used to say – I feel so happy when I see you on screen, then I can imagine how happy you must be! His confidence in me keeps me going,” she says. While a lot of married actresses are ruling the roost in Bollywood, down south, it is yet to become the norm. “No one asks a married man – why are you a hero? Married heroes have so much fan following with girls swooning, so why not the women actors too? My personal life is different from my professional life. Judge me for my acting skills, not my personal life. I have no hesitation in talking about my personal life, especially when the person I’m married to is the one supporting me the most,” she smiles.
Reminiscing her TV stint, Aakanksha admits that after doing two shows, she was stuck in a loop as she was being offered similar roles. “I wanted to explore more and do something that displayed my versatility. Since I got nothing exciting, I shifted to doing commercials, that’s when my first Telugu film Malli Rava happened – that’s how my southerb journey started,” says the actor, who played Annie in Gulmohar Grand.
She has a Tamil-Telugu bilingual called Clap coming up, in which she plays a national hockey player called Mitra. Aakanksha hopes to portray diverse characters. When she’s not displaying her acting prowess, she’s busy with life and other things. “I go for Pilates. I also love to write and sing. I love music – I’d love to sing professionally too, hope that happens soon,” she signs off.
Fav film: DDLJ
Fav show: Right now, it’s Katra Katra Katra
Fav travel destination: London
Fav food: Pani puri