Ashika Ranganath: With O2, the audience will see a very new me

The actor, who considers her upcoming film unique and new, expresses her desire for a shift to prove that she can be a full-time performer and believes the film has provided her with such an opportunity
Ashika Ranganath: With O2, the audience will see a very new me

Ashika Ranganath doesn’t prefer categorising her upcoming medical thriller O2 as a female-centric film. According to her, this notion doesn’t align with her beliefs or the makers’ intentions. “Today’s cinema is no longer about heroes or heroines. Rather, it’s about all the characters coming together to narrate a story, which is what the new generation of filmmakers strives for. Although O2 primarily follows the heroine’s perspective, while it features a few actors in pivotal roles. However, the essence of the film lies in my character, Shraddha, a one-of-a-kind role in my career,” Ashika explains, as she elaborates further on the project.

O2 is directed and written by debutant duo Prashanth Raj and Raghav Nayak. Raghav also plays the lead role in the film, alongside Praveen Tej and Siri Ravi Kumar in prominent roles.

Interestingly, Ashika says that she gravitated towards content-driven films like O2, considering many firsts. “From Crazy Boys to my latest Avatara Purusha, I’ve been portrayed as a commercial heroine, but with performative scope. I’ve played various characters, from the girl next door to the bubbly college girl. However, I consider O2 different,” says Ashika, who landed the project during the lockdown.

“Usually, I prefer narrations, but to my surprise, the directors had bound scripts with dialogues, which caught my attention. Being associated with PRK Productions and producer Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar was another major draw, especially knowing their lineup of content-oriented films. The film and my role in it helped me step away from the monotonous or stereotypical characters I was playing. Moreover, at some point in time, I wanted to shift and prove that I am a full-time performer, not just a bits-and-pieces performer, and O2 provided one such opportunity. Since the makers were new, it was challenging and exciting,” she adds.

For Ashika, O2 is a new genre for Indian cinema, a research-based subject that also provides a cinematic experience. “As with oxygen, love is also important for life, and its elements are symbolically depicted in this film. It blends every aspect of life and death. Love is the oxygen that we cannot live without, and there’s a lot more to discover through the film that brings forth a new concept. The audience will see a very new me in O2,” she says.

Ashika mentions that while she has worked with experienced directors, working with a fresh set of filmmakers such as Raghav and Prashanth on O2 provided her with new perspectives and thoughts. “Their fresh ideas helped me experiment,” says the actor.

For Praveen Tej, it was essentially the PRK brand that drew him to the project. “I knew that the story, more specifically the content, would take precedence in O2 over heroes or heroines, and I was very happy to take up the project,” Praveen says.

O2 also stars Puneeth BA, Prakash Belawadi, Shreedhar, Gopal Krishna Deshpande, and theatre artist Mohan. The film has cinematography by Naveen Kumar and music by Vivan Radhakrishna. It is set for an April 19 release.

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