TV star Asha Sharath has added a feather to her cap with a sparkling performance in Drishyam
“One day I get a call. The caller wanted to know if I was a police officer. When I replied in the negative, he said, ‘Well, I am very much one and I can tell you that you looked like a real officer.’ You know who that was? Transport Commissioner Rishiraj Singh!” Asha Sharath can’t suppress her excitement when she talks about what she calls the biggest surprise in her acting career.
Many such surprises and messages have come her way since her brilliant role as Inspector-General Geetha Prabhakar in the Mohanlal-starrer, Drishyam, directed by Jeethu Joseph — so much so she still can’t believe whether all this is for real. Her fans can’t believe it either. For the Malayali television audience who know her and love her as the poised and stoic ‘Prof. Jayanthi’ in the daily soap Kumkumapoovu, seeing Asha on the big screen as a tough police officer was something refreshingly new.
“I couldn’t have asked for more. People from within and outside the industry have congratulated me. My family, especially my daughters, incidentally my biggest critics, can’t believe that I actually pulled off the role,” she says, during a chat when she was in Kerala, before flying back to Dubai, her home for the last 18 years.
“Drishyam is my first commercial hit. The irony is that I was not at all confident about essaying the role when Jeethu offered it first. The script was amazing, but I could not imagine myself in the shoes of a police officer. Actually I am quite scared of policemen! It was after discussing with Lalettan [Mohanlal], my husband and daughters that I finally decided to do the role," she confesses.
There wasn’t much preparation involved, though. She was so nervous that she was able to see the film only four days after it was released. She watched the movie at Perumbavoor, her hometown, with her husband and daughters. Word got around that I was in the theatre. When the show was over and the lights came on, the crowd turned towards me sitting in the box and shouted, “Super” and broke into applause… It was overwhelming…,” says an emotional Asha.
Her journey from a trained classical dancer to an actor has been quite smooth. Trained by her mother Kalamandalam Sumathy in Bharathanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi, Asha’s fortunes changed after she bagged the top prize at an all-India dance fete in Benares in 1992. Film offers poured in, but she chose to act in a few serials and telefilms, before getting married and shifting base to Dubai.
It was dance that brought her back into the limelight. Asha and students of her dance school, Kairali Kalakendram – Music, Dance and Art Centre, in Dubai, used to stage programmes for mega events organised by television channels and that eventually saw her take the first step into acting. One was the telefilm Nizhalum Nilavum Parayunnathu, which won her the State television award for the second best actress. That fetched her the role in Kumkumapoovu.
“But for the serial I wouldn’t have been here. I feel extremely happy that the serial and my character have got a huge fan base among the family members of most of my co-actors. It was after 14 years that I stood before the camera as Prof. Jayanthi. I never thought that the character and the serial would be loved so much. Even when I go to other countries with my dance team, I find fans for the serial. I should thank Linda, Jeethu’s wife, and his brother who suggested my name for Drishyam. They are regular viewers of the serial,” she says.
Her career is at the crossroad now – Drishyam has changed her profile altogether and Kumkumapoovu is going off air by the end of this month. Which means more films? “Not really! I will do only those roles that really excite and challenge me. Meanwhile, I am not doing any serial for the time being. I have bigger responsibilities back in Dubai – my family and my dance school with over 3,500 students and 75 staff and I want to give my 100 per cent to them. I became an actress by chance.”
So, is she now in a happy space? “Absolutely. I have great peace of mind, which is ultimately what we all wish to have…,” she says. Time for a break.
Adieu to Jayanthi
During the last four years, I have been coming to Thiruvananthapuram every month for 15 days to shoot for Kumkumapoovu. Though it was practically very difficult for me, all the pain was worth it. Praveen Kadakkavoor, director of the serial, gave me a laddu before we shot the final scene. I almost broke down when I handed over the spectacles that Jayanthi always wore…
* Asha is married to Sharath, a Malayali born and brought up in Nasik. They have two daughters – Uthara and Keerthana.
* She has acted in serials such as Indulekha, Alapanam, Kalathilakam, Jathaka Kathakal and Michaelinte Santhathikal, to name a few and was an RJ with Radio Asia before opening her dance school. She has acted in the movies Karmayodha, Ardhanari, Buddy, Friday, and Zachariyayude Garbhinikal.