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Updated: September 17, 2011 20:41 IST

On the cards

MALATHI RANGARAJAN
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INTERVIEW Ashwin Kakumanu's performance in Mankatha is being noticed — naturally he is waiting for such meaty roles in future

Here's another actor who has come down to Chennai after his graduation in the U.S. for a rendezvous with the silver screen. Meet Ashwin Kakumanu — the corrupt police inspector Ganesh in Mankatha and one of the many aspiring youngsters in tinsel town. The only major difference is that the young man has earned the goodwill of Mankatha's mainstay, Ajith, who has positive words to say about him. “I entered the sets with trepidation on the first day of shoot of Mankatha, because I was going to work with one of the most successful heroes of the era. But I wasn't quite prepared for the humility of the man,” gushes Ashwin.

Sixty days of working with Ajith has made Ashwin feel quite close to the hero. “Ajith would cook his lunch on the sets and share it with us too. I just peeped into his caravan one day to tell him that the aroma was inviting. In the next few minutes he sent word for me and insisted we lunch together. Awesome person,” he smiles.

S. P. Charan put Ashwin on to Venkat Prabhu when the casting of Mankatha was going on. “I was pretty dejected at the time, because things weren't working out.” And at that point Ashwin didn't know that Venkat Prabhu had cast him in such an important role. “I can't thank Charan and Prabhu enough,” he says.

Ashwin isn't exactly a greenhorn in cinema, if you can count the blink-and-miss debut in Gautham Menon's Nadunisi Naaigal. He played the boyfriend of Sameera Reddy. “None in my family is into films. So it's tough to get solid roles. And I knew it was a five-minute part. But the point is I had to get noticed.” Ashwin is clear about his career moves. “Playing protagonist in a small film may not always work. Not that I got such roles,” he laughs. “Only if the film is a success does recognition come your way. Being part of big projects seems a better strategy at the moment.” The move earned him a prominent role in Mankatha, which has been declared a hit, and plaudits for his portrayal. It is probably the only reason that made him accept small appearances in the yet-to-be-released 7aum Arivu and in the Hindi remake of Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya.

Incidentally, is the young man working on his footwork? Mankatha showed that it is a skill he needs to hone. “Even my friends liked only my performance, not my dance. But I will equip myself in the art soon,” he says.

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