MUMBAI Asin Thottumkal burst into Bollywood with her role as the effervescent Kalpana in Aamir Khan's 2008 blockbuster "Ghajini".
"Ready" with Salman Khan was also a hit and Asin now joins an ensemble cast for Sajid Khan's "Housefull 2", which opens in cinemas on Friday.
Asin spoke to Reuters about working in a film with such a large cast, Bollywood's sense of humour and working in south Indian films.
Q: Did the fact that there are seven other leads in "Housefull 2" make you apprehensive about accepting this role?
A: "No, not really. If you know what your role is in the film, then there doesn't need to be any insecurity. When the director has made that clear, everybody is clear about what their part and contribution to the movie is going to be."
Q: You are competing for screen space with many people after doing a solo lead in your last film "Ready".
A: "That's the exact reason why I wanted to do this film -- I had never been a part of an ensemble cast before this. I wanted to check out this experience -- Bollywood is known for its multi-starrers and big-scale entertainers. Sajid Khan (director) and Sajid Nadiadwala (producer) have a history of producing great multi-starrers. I couldn't take it up the first time around, so when I got an opportunity the second time, I decided to grab it."
Q: There has been some debate over the level of comedies Bollywood has been producing. Do you subscribe to the ‘leave-your-brains-at-home' theory?
A: "As long as the audience is enjoying it, I guess it's fine. I leave that to the director -- I am just an actor doing my bit in the movie. If the director wants to make this kind of film, and if he has been successful in making those kind of films, then he has the pulse of the audience."
Q: After the success of "Ready" and working on "Housefull 2", what kind of humour do you think Indian audiences appreciate?
A: "There are audiences for different kinds of cinema. There are people who enjoy the ‘Ready' kind of comedy and there are people who will enjoy ‘Bol Bachchan' (directed by Rohit Shetty and scheduled to release later in 2012) as well. So I don't think you can generalise audience tastes. There are audiences for all kinds of entertainment."
Q: What kind of comedy do you prefer?
A: "I like all kinds -- depends on my mood. Sometimes I like slapstick or situational comedy -- it also depends how it's been packaged and presented."
Q: What is the kind of humour we'll see in "Housefull 2"?
A: "Yeah, it'll be fun to watch. For me, what's most exciting is that there are all these actors coming together on screen -- I would watch it just for that. Rishi ji (Kapoor) and Dabboo ji (Randhir Kapoor) have never come together on screen as brothers -- they are doing that for the first time here. Or the fact that Rishi ji and Mithun ji (Chakraborty) are acting together -- the comedy and everything is a bonus, but I watch the film just to see these people together."
Q: It's been four years since you moved to Bollywood. How has the journey been?
A: "It's been three years actually. I am quite happy. Not many people are able to make the successful transition from the southern film industry to Bollywood, and the fact that I did it with a short time-period of three years, is great. Two out of my three films have been blockbusters, and there is a long way to go, but the start has been good."
Q: What kind of roles are you looking at?
A: "I would focus on commercial cinema, and within that I would look at more fleshed out characters. I think commercial cinema reaches out to a larger number of people and I want to connect with more number of people. The closest example I could give is that of my character in ‘Ghajini'. Kalpana had her own character graph -- she had different shades to her and it drove the story forward. That's the kind of work I am looking for."
Q: Is it any different down south?
A: "I think there is a variety down south -- you still have the commercial variety with your songs and fights and dances, but then you also have some very strong roles for women. Malayalam cinema has a lot of those, very few in Tamil have that. It's a mixture actually."
Q: Do you plan to work down south?
A: "Right now, no. I have my hands full with ‘Housefall 2' and ‘Bol Bachchan' but I am not saying no completely. I already have a body of work in the south, and I wouldn't like to do something repetitive. It wouldn't excite the audiences or me, so I'm looking at doing something different. The south is my comfort zone, and my parent industry, so I could never shut myself out of it."