“London Dreams was the best shooting experience of my life and my career” – Asin

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If you are a fan of the movies from the Tamil and Telegu film industries, than it is certain that you know Asin Thottumkal‘s name. She has starred in some of the biggest films and opposite some of the biggest stars, and is considered one of the best. When she came to Bollywood, she didn’t start out small. Reprising her role in the Hindi version of Ghajini, she was paired with one of the greats – Aamir Khan. The trend of starring opposite the big hitters in Hindi cinema continued with her second film because this time she worked with Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan. Boasting not only an incredible cast, the film, London Dreams had one of the best in the director’s chair, Vipul Shah. In the film, Asin plays a dancer and singer who joins Ajay Devgan’s rock band called London Dreams. When Ajay’s old friend Salman comes to join the band he not only gets the fame… he also tries to get the girl. As to what happens next you will have to see that in the film. Asin says she chose to do the film not only because she found the role really interesting, but also because of the opportunity to work with those three! I got the chance to talk with the actress about working on the film, which she says is one of the best experiences of her career, about her role, acting styles, music, and all thing London Dreams. Read on to find out more and get some inside scoop as well!

Tell me about your role in London Dreams.

Well, Stacey, I play this girl who was born and brought up in London but of Indian origins, obviously. She is called Priya, and at home she is brought up by very conservative parents who don’t let her express herself the way she wants to. She is somebody who wants to express herself in music and dance, but they are very traditional and only let her learn the classical forms of dance and music. So, when she steps out of her house, there is this rock chick streak to her personality that comes in, so that is the kind of character I play in London Dreams.

How did you get involved with this project?

Well, I was working on Ghajini, and during that shoot Vipul, the director, approached me for London Dreams. We had a meeting, during which he narrated the script and I found it really interesting, because character-wise and film-wise it was quite different from what I was doing in Ghajini. I also wanted work in an out-and-out Bollywood film, you know, commercial Hindi cinema, and who better to start that off with than Vipul, because he is a hit maker in that kind of cinema. Obviously, the advantage of getting to work with Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn in your second Bollywood venture was quite an attraction. I just found the project very attractive and so I took it up.

Did you like playing Priya?

Oh yes, I must say I had a complete blast because I think Priya portrays, kind of, extremes of my own character. I mean there are slight streaks of me, you know you are not completely as traditional as Priya is at home and you are not completely like a rock chick when you step outside, but I guess there are little bits of that in my own character, so I guess Priya is a magnification of those characters. I really had a lot of fun doing that.

She does have that rock chick edge to her so, how did you get into her character?

I guess some of it is who I am, at least like I said the little part of me, and others from what you have seen around you. I took guidance from Vipul because he is very much tuned in to how the Indians are in London and he has obviously made films based on that like Namastey London, which was a huge, huge hit. So, I really trusted the director and I am somebody who is very much a director’s actor. I might have certain ideas of my own, but I always put it to the director and whatever he feels is right is what I go ahead with. So, I guess I took a lot of help from him also to play the character.

The trailer looks to be very much a dramatic film…

Oh yes!

So how do you get into the dramatic scenes?

There is no particular method that I follow. As an actor, each person has his way of approaching the character or a scene. I am not somebody who’s very methodical about it. I guess I am a combo – a little bit methodical and a little bit of spontaneity, also. In that way, I would say that I have a little bit of Aamir Khan’s traits in me and a little bit of Salman Khan (laughs). As actors, I think they both have quite different working styles. Aamir is quite a method actor, he likes to get into the mood of the character for some time. He likes to come on set and discuss the scene with the director, how he has to play the character with his director and his co-artists, bounce off ideas, improvisations. That is the kind of guy Aamir is and that is the way he works. Salman is quite opposite to that; he is not like that at all. I mean he comes in and he gives his shot when it is action, he says his dialogue, does his bit, then cut and that is it, he is off. It looks very spontaneous, but I am sure he does his homework in his mind or in his head. As an actor, I am sure that he is doing that, how the body language of the character should be and how he should be delivering his dialog. I am sure that all happens, but you don’t get to see that externally, so he appears more spontaneous. I think I am more of a mix of both, which I think is why I had a great time working with both and I got along really well with both of them as actors.

How was it working with Ajay?

It was a lot of fun! I thought he would be this intense kind of brooding personality who wouldn’t talk much. I think that was because of the kind of roles he has mostly done in previous films, and so I thought that would sort of be his personality in real life, too. I was quite surprised to discover the naughty side of Ajay, because he turns out to be quite a prankster. I wasn’t warned about this at all before I started working on London Dreams. It was a lot of fun working with Ajay, too. Ajay and Salman get along with each other too, so I think there is this whole atmosphere of friendliness, of comfort, which I believe has transferred onto the film and you will see that when you watch the film on screen. I think the chemistry between all of us as friends off camera really showed in front of the camera.

And did Ajay pull a prank on you?

He did try to once, very initially, but he soon realized he has to think of something more intelligent, more devious to make a bakra out of me, so to say. It really fell flat on its face, and I have to wish him all the best, and that he probably will come up with something even more complicated next time to make me fall for it (laughs).

Do you have a favorite memory from the shoot?

I don’t know just one, but I think it is just the whole atmosphere, where not once during the shoot of this film did any actor retire to his her own respective vanity vans and come out only to just give the shot. In between the shots, we would just hang around each other, just chill, and we would sit around the table and chat. Salman and Ajay would be telling me stories about when they started out in the industry and about their various experiences. Me, being the only girl in the gang, they would try pulling pranks on me and try pulling my leg and would joke around. All kind of silly stuff, like Ajay would challenge me with tongue twisters in Hindi and I would throw back a challenge of tongue twisters for him in English. Once we were shooting for this concert song and we had this crowd of thousands of college students, who were fans of Salman and Ajay, who had just come to watch the shooting and they became the crowd at the concert, and all this happened over the mic during breaks. Ajay would give me the mic and say, say this like this and he would throw a challenge at me, and obviously give me all kinds of difficult Hindi to say, and I would give him something like it in English to say. It was a lot of fun! I guess all these small, small instances were quite memorable. The whole shoot was something I really enjoyed and for sure, it has been the best shooting experience of my life and my career. Even though I am very happy that the film is complete and it is ready for release, there is a slight pain because I know I am not going to be shooting for London Dreams anymore.

How was it shooting those concert scenes? It must have been pretty amazing to have all those people there…

It was, it was! It was not anything like we would shoot a normal film song, as in usually when we are shooting a song, we would take a bit of the song and rehearse that and then go for a take and that is how you would progress shooting for the song, but this concert song we had a whole set erected in India. We couldn’t shoot that scene in London, but we erected something similar to a Wembley Stadium in India. We shot a lot of concerts on that set and various sets like that. We rehearsed the entire song and we performed it and it was like we were performing live, because there was never a cut in the middle, you have to do the song from start to finish and there were six to seven cameras that were shooting it simultaneously. So, it was not like you would shoot one line of the song separately, you go for a take and then if you did a mistake in between you did again and then the song would finally come together on the editing table – that was not the way we did it at all. It was a good experience, and, like I said, with a live crowd there, not the usual junior artists that are paid to be there to cheer or act like they are applauding and stuff like that. It was a real college crowd, real tourists, and real fans of the stars acting in the movie. It was a lot of fun and a lot of energy while shooting for the concert.

What do you think of the music; do you have a favorite song?

I think Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy have done fabulous work for London Dreams because the movie demands a lot of good numbers from the music director, and I think they have really lived up to that and given more than what was expected of them. I really am a big admirer of Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy. Favorite song for London dreams: I really like ‘Khanabadosh’ and also ‘Man Ko Ati Bhavey’. It is kind of a tie, I am on the fence on this one!

After London Dreams, do you have other projects in the works?

Yes, I do but at this point of time it is very tricky for me to be talking about them because I would want the production houses to come out with the official announcements first, before I say something on my behalf, you know. Some announcement about these two will be coming out in the very near future, and then I guess I would have more freedom to talk about that!

One of the great things about talking with Asin was how energetic and happy she was as she talked about her experience on London Dreams. Not only did she talk about the film, but also she showed us a little bit of what it was like on the set and working with three big names in Hindi cinema. London Dreams was definitely on my “I must see this film” list, and after talking to her I am even more excited. The film opens on October 30th, so make sure and plan your weekend to include a trip to the theater!

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