New Yorker Aasheekaa Bathija moved to Mumbai in search of Bollywood fame. But before the Hindi moviedom gates opened, she cut her teeth in the Telugu film industry, which welcomed her and made her a star in the Surender Reddy-directed comedy Kick.
"I was pleasantly surprised with the rave reviews and appreciation I received for my work," she says. "In my first film itself, I have worked with the top professionals of the industry. For me, it was a great way of Kick-starting my career."
A Sindhi who immigrated to the United States when she was a one year old, Aasheekaa did not know a word of Telugu.
"But language was no problem at all. Acting is all about emotions, and emotions have their own universal language. Though everyone on the set spoke Telugu, they all were very considerate to make me feel comfortable. After some time, I began to understand Telugu and by the end of the shooting, the language barrier faded," she says. "Though people in Mumbai do not recognise me, when I travel to Hyderabad, people seek autographs."
A few offers have come after the movie. But she wants to only play the heroine. What kind of roles is she looking forward to? Like Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met, shoots back Aasheekaa, whose parents and younger brother live on Long Island, New York.
A graduate of business from Fordham University, New York, Aasheekaa wants to continue in the film industry even after the stardom is gone, as a writer or producer.
"I landed in Bombay not knowing anyone. All I knew was my destination: Films. And I can say with pride that things are moving along rather smoothly," she says.