About a year ago, Syamaprasad was talking about his new film. He had begun shooting ‘Artist’, with Fahad Fazil and Ann Augustine in the lead. “Ann is going to surprise everyone,” he had said. Syamaprasad kept his word. Ann delivered a stunning performance in the neatly crafted film that talked about the complex relationship between a genius of a painter and his college-mate who sacrifices so much to make him pursue his art.

For those who had seen the film, Ann winning the State Award for the Best Actress must have hardly been a surprise. It is a richly deserved honour for an artiste, who is humble enough to admit that she was almost shocked when Syamaprasad had cast her.

It was a difficult role, of a pampered girl who becomes a responsible woman almost overnight. Ann portrayed both phases of the life of Gayatri with conviction and subtlety. The hopelessness of love and life came alive on her face, beautifully. Ann, though, was not sure if she would get the award. “There were competent, experienced actresses in the fray, like Shobana (‘Thira’) and Shwetha Menon (‘Kalimannu’), so I did not know how bright my chances were,” she told The Hindu on Sunday. “Now I am enjoying the moment; my only regret is that my father (actor Augustine) died before he could see this achievement.”

Ann said the fact that Fahad, as a friend also helped in her performance. “I was not unnerved by the fact that I was sharing the screen space with a brilliant actor. It was a lot of hard work though, as Syamaprasad made us rehearse our scenes and I had these lengthy dialogues. I still do not know why he cast me for such a difficult role.”

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