Avantikka gets a lucky break in Bollywood with ‘Khushboo’
She’s the face that ace producer Pahlaj Nihlani has discovered. And the young actor is proud to be the latest South Indian in Bollywood. The bubbly, giggly Avantikka is all of 22 and says she suddenly outgrew her awkward and gangly-teen-with-braces-and-frizzy-hair phase (“The Mumbai air groomed me a bit!”), wanting to be a filmmaker.
Of course, the transformation ensured that she landed the lead in “Khushboo — The Fragrance of Love” that released recently. Born in Mysore, her father’s bureaucratic job took her to Delhi, Gujarat, and finally Mumbai. “My grandparents are in Mysore and I’ve spent every single summer holiday there,” she says.
She landed in Mumbai a year-and-a-half ago and met director Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra. He offered her an ad for Dabur Chyavanprash. Pahlaj Nihlani saw the ad and chose her for the film, she says.
As simple as that. No knocking on doors of directors and producers and going through the rigmarole of agencies and photographs.
Nihlani is known for introducing actors such as Govinda, Chunkey Pandey, Neelam and Divya Bharti and re-launching the careers of the likes of Sunny Deol.
In an age when star children and their much-touted launches are the rage, Avantikka sensibly insists that not being a star kid has advantages.
“It’s in a way difficult because expectations are very low. But I believe thatlower the hype, it works to your advantage.”
In “Khushboo…” she plays a boisterous Punjabi girl. She was convincing enough to be offered a Punjabi film soon after! “I’ve spent a few years in Delhi, where I studied Hindi and my family is blessed with no hardcore South Indian accent. In fact, people in Mumbai don’t know that I’m from the south and when they do get to know, they always ask me ‘Aap ko Hindi aati hai?’,” she laughs.
She’s had no formal acting training, but has had basic training in Kathak. “Dancing is the best form of learning acting because acting is abhinaya. As a child, I was more interested in music and dance. I was never academically oriented. I was a last-minute crammer.” Considering her dad was a policemen, did the evil ones kept away from her?
Again some full-throated laughter before she says: “My mom is with me on the sets all the time, everywhere. She’s my best bodyguard and chaperone.”
She has a two-film contract with Pahlaj Nihlani and rejected four other film offers after “Khushboo…”.
“I was advised that my second film would be crucial to my career. I didn’t want to succumb and get into B runs.” The polyglot speaks English, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Gujarati, and now some Punjabi too.