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Updated: September 2, 2010 16:33 IST

The tomboy next door

Saraswathy Nagarajan
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Pretty woman Ann Augustine
The HIndu Pretty woman Ann Augustine

Ann Augustine makes her debut on the silver screen as Elsamma in Lal Jose's Elsammaenna Aankutty

Pitted against the might of the super stars of Malayalam film is a small slip of a girl called Elsamma who reaches silver screens in Kerala next week. A Lal Jose film, Elsammaenna Aaankutty is played with gumption by Ann, another Lal Jose find who makes her debut as a an actor.

The rapid fire conversation with Ann is punctuated with laughter and giggles as she talks about the shooting of her film and how she had to romance and act coy. So is Ann a real-life tomboy too?

“I don't know. It is true that I am not coy or shy,” says the psychology graduate who hopes to be a clinical psychologist some day and help people with difficulties. Ann is now in Bangalore to apply for a postgraduate course in psychology.

Finding Elsamma

It was during her break after her graduation that the offer came from Lal Jose. Although the two were in touch on Facebook, Lal had no idea that she was actor Augustine's daughter. “I had met her when she was in school. So when she sent me a friend request on Facebook, I had no clue who it was. Much later, when I went to meet her father in Kozhikode, I saw her there and it was only then that I realised she was his daughter,” says Lal. He remembers with a smile how she grilled him and wanted to know why his Facebook account had more of women friends than men. “She was so self-assured; I knew that she was Elsamma. Her determination and dedication had to be seen to be believed,” says Lal.

Ann has the same high opinion about her mentor. “I knew Lal ettan as my father's friend. But after working with him, I realised why he is one of our best directors.”

She says in spite of having a veteran actor like Augustine right at home to help her, it was Lal who helped her get her act together.

“My father told me that when there was a director like Lal to guide me, I would not need anyone's help. But my father was terribly nervous whether I would be able to do justice to the character. After the first's day shoot, he did not even want to call and ask Lal ettan how it went. So finally, it was Ranjith uncle [Ranjith] who called up to find out how I had done.”

Giving her full marks for her acting, the film director says: “She is not a conventional beauty and her acting is also different. Instead of using her eyes too much, Ann has relied on her movements and the way she holds her face to convey a lot. I found it more realistic.”

The self-confessed foodie whose comfort food is rice and curd had to go on a liquid diet to get into the skin of her character. “In fact, on the sets Suraj uncle [Suraj Venjarmoodu] kept teasing me. He told me that I lacked the airs to be an actor and was digging into idlis and rice as if there was no tomorrow,” laughs Ann.

New steps

Not only did Ann have to diet for her role, she also had to learn to dance.

“It is one of the toughest things for me. I do shake a leg with friends, but here I was supposed to dance to a duet with Chackochen [Kunchacko Boban] and do a Margam Kali as well. All credit goes to dance instructor Sujatha ma'm.”

Perhaps it was the travails of having to learn dance that makes her go gaga over Revathy and Shobana, both graceful dancers. “They are my favourite actors and I just love Revathy's Mouna Ragam,” says the movie buff who enjoys watching old films.

Although Ann gushes about her first film and its cast and crew, she avers she will sign her next film only after she sees how Elsamma is received by film viewers in Kerala. “I have received a couple of attractive offers. I want to wait and see what is the fate of Elsamma. Moreover, I have no plans of putting my studies on hold.”

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