SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO

Genelia, Shriya and Asin explore Bollywood and the industry seems to welcome the Southern sirens with open arms.

I don’t want to get typecast in cute bubbly girl roles. -- Genelia
I was tired trying to do my best in films that didn’t work. -- Shriya

Last Friday, a star was born. And it didn’t come as a big surprise since his (Imran Khan) debut was tailormade for him and his doting uncle (Aamir Khan) carefully orchestrated the publicity rounds. But in the end, when people walked out of the cinema halls humming Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindagi Mein Yuhin Koi Apna Lagta Hai, it was Aditi (Genelia D’Souza) who quietly stole the show in the frothy campus flick scripted and directed by Abbas Tyrewala. Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na proved that the sprightly youngster who had failed to charm with Masti, Tujhe Meri Kasam and more recently Mere Baap Pehle Aap just needed the right script to make her shine in Bollywood. “The response is unbelievable,” says Genelia, revelling the success of Jaane Tu. The success of her latest Telugu film Ready is just the icing on the cake.

This Friday, Shriya Saran will face the acid test with Apoorva Lakhia’s Mission Istaanbul. Shriya was spotted while studying at Lady Shriram College, Delhi, and debuted in Telugu with Ishtam and hit it big with Santhosham. Her first brush with Hindi films came with the now-forgotten Thoda Tum Badlo Thoda Hum opposite Arya Babbar. She followed it up with Shukriya with Aftab and recently did Awarapan with Emraan Hashmi. Despite all these films biting the dust, Shriya’s box office success story in Tamil (thanks to Rajnikanth’s Sivaji) helped her bag Mission Istanbul, Ashok Amritraj’s The Other End of The Line and Deepa Mehta’s What’s Cooking? “It’s just a co-incidence that Genelia, Asin and I are working in Hindi films at the same time. Irrespective of the language, I think we are all part of Indian cinema,” says Shriya.

Joining the group of southern sirens aiming for a top slot in Bollywood are Asin and Shruti Haasan (Luck with Imran Khan). Asin is a known face with television commercials and the Hindi dubbed version of Dasavathaaram, even as she awaits the release of Aamir Khan’s Ghajini. Currently on a no-interview embargo, Asin is taking her time to sign new projects. Shriya and Genelia are no different.

“Apart from Krishna Vamsi’s film in Telugu and the Hindi remake of Bommarillu, I haven’t accepted any other offer,” says Genelia. Director Abbas Tyrewala thinks Genelia’s fresh appeal and energy are her assets and she’s excelled in girl-next-door bubbly roles (Bommarillu and its Tamil version Santhosh Subramaniam). But Genelia insists, “I don’t want to get typecast in cute bubbly girl roles. I will be doing Bommarillu in Hindi and it’s nice to know there’s no replacement for me in that role. But I have to move on.”

And Shriya has learnt lessons from the brief lull before Sivaji. “I worked with leading banners in Telugu and somehow things didn’t click. I wasn’t looking at scripts. I was signing films based on the storyline told to me; but the films didn’t turn out well. I was tired trying to do my best. Mazhai (the Tamil version of Varsham) and Sivaji got me noticed in Tamil.” Ashok Amritraj’s The Other End of the Line and Deepa Mehta’s What’s Cooking have upped Shriya’s market value. “I wish What’s Cooking would release today. It was a pleasure shooting for it,” she says. Her current release, Mission Istaanbul, sees her amidst a gamut of stars. “I won’t deny that it’s a male-oriented film. It has an interesting plot about terrorism and Zayed and I are a couple, both TV journalists.” A performance at IIFA Awards nite for the film was another high point. “I don’t know if that helps building a career but I enjoyed performing there. I love stage performances,” she says.