Aishwarya Nag began her versatile journey at 16. From pulling off a performance-oriented role in ‘Vasundhara’ to proving her mettle in glamorous roles, she has proved a pro at all. At a young age, she has become the natural choice for many a director looking for an actress and not a mere prop. Sashidhar Adivi meets the quintessential performer, who reflects on her filmi journey, glamour and grown-up years.
“When I debuted back then in 2008, I didn’t know anything about showbiz. My first film was with Sameer Dattani and the appreciation I received was a big morale-booster. Ever since, I juggled cinema and studies till 2014, when I completed my graduation,” Aishwarya says, narrating her eventful years thus far. You have to give it to her for letting none typecast her. “I have been versatile – played a doctor, college-goer, village belle, etc.,” the soft-spoken actress says with a sense of pride.
For someone whose mother was an artist before marriage, the first litmus test she faced was her father’s. “When I got my first offer, my dad told me that if I got even one negative review, I was not going to do films anymore,” she recalls. Well, as they say, rest is history. “The best thing to happen was, of course, ‘Jolly Days’ and the National Award-winning TS Nagabharana, the director of ‘Vasundhara’. It’s a film that is very close to my heart. Shaukar Janaki mam hugged me after watching the movie. She came looking for Vasundhara and not me. She forgot my name! In a film festival, people were searching for the actress even though I was standing there. I was so fortunate to be cast in a female-centric film,” Aishwarya recollects with child-like excitement. Ask her what is her USP and she says, “I can express through my eyes. For ‘Vasundhara’, I even dubbed my voice for the first time.”
Beneath her ordinary persona lies an actor who can easily look the part in a split second. “I developed great admiration for the art as I did more films. I am the kind who becomes a totally different person as soon as the camera rolls. People always tell me that I immediately light up when I am in front of the camera,” the ‘Jolly’ girl reveals.
As for doing glamorous roles, she is open to them, but with a rider. “As long as glamour means the heroine looks beautiful and not vulgar, one should be fine with it.” Aishwarya is seemingly proud that when a director has to cast someone in a performance-oriented role, she is a natural choice. “There are hardly 2 or 3 actresses who get such offers. When Radhika Pandit is busy, I am offered a role; and when I am busy, she is offered. I admire her a lot. She is a top performer. The performer’s tag is very satisfying. I stayed away from glam roles till ‘Muddu Manase’,” Nag says, taking stock of the things. “When you know a lot of things, the knowledge could hamper your performance. Since I didn’t know anything in the beginning, it came out naturally. When they asked me to cry, I cried for real. I didn’t apply glycerin. I’m observant too. Observing keenly helps you to bring out various personae at the right moment,” she cogitates.
Despite such talent, why has she confined herself to Kannada? “I couldn’t travel because I was studying and have to be in Bangalore. Now that I am done with my academics, I can work in other languages too.”
What is she like in real life? “I am a simple and a family person; my parents and sister come first. I was way too introvertive before coming into cinema. The characters that I have done have influenced me a lot. I am now mingling with people. Konkani is my mother tongue. I learnt Kannada after coming to Bangalore. I have changed with time.” As someone fond of music and classical dancing (she has training in Bharatnatyam), Aish describes herself as a “culturally inclined person.”
Talking about things that many don’t know about her, she says, “I learnt to ride a bullet for a song in ‘Muddu Manse’ (smiles). I have a pet dog which I am very fond of. I am a Mangalorean, but people confuse me for a Mumbaikar due to my complexion. Nobody believes me when I say I am a South Indian.” As someone who balances glamour and performance on screen, it’s surprising that Aish makes sure she looks beautiful on screen. “People shouldn’t dislike the costumes that I wear and my image has changed, of late. I have learnt a lot over the years. Even things like the costumes we get to wear teach a lot. When doing an emotional scene, an actor is not made to wear bright colors,” she explains.
Studious and always a topper as a student, Aishwarya never had crushes, save movie stars, especially Hrithik Roshan. “A good-hearted person is a turn-on for me. I don’t like guys who show-off. I like down-to-earth guys,” she signs off.