Neetha Ashok: I am just lucky
Neetha Ashok charts her journey from her early days in television to getting a big break on silver screen in Sudeep-starrer Vikrant Rona
It was in May 2014 that Neetha Ashok first faced the arc lights. Four years later, she had three mega serials in Kannada and one in Hindi to her credit. Now, Neetha has got her first big break in Sudeep-starrer Vikrant Rona directed by Anup Bhandari. “I am just lucky, it’s not luck by chance,” says Neetha, who hadn’t considered the silver screen till 2019 when she was offered a Tulu project, soon after which Vikrant Rona came by. “The Tulu movie featured my senior from school, with his father directing and producing the film. It was at the same time that I got a call from team Vikrant Rona,” she tells us.
She can’t contain her excitement about being spotted by none other than Sudeep, who is known to encourage young talent. “I had met Sudeep sir at a party organised by Colors Kannada. When the team was looking to bring in a suitable cast for the film, Sudeep remembered me and suggested my name. Initially, when I got a message I thought it was a prank. However, when I got a call, there were no bounds to my excitement,” says Neetha.
Did she muster the courage to find out from the star himself as to the reason for his suggestion? “Yes! Good work, whether on the small screen or anywhere else, never goes unnoticed. He had watched the promos of my serials, which would appear in the breaks of Bigg Boss Kannada. He mentioned that my smile and screen presence struck him,” she says.
Neetha’s role, as Aparna Ballal, who is fondly called as Panna, is completely different from the others she has done on small screen. “I usually play the girl-next-door character in serials. But Panna is a very western, broadminded girl from Mumbai. She likes to explore places and enjoys adventure. Panna is somebody very similar to me,” she says, adding that despite the star presence, her role did have weightage. “They made sure my character wasn’t dull,” she adds.
For a TV serial actor, was the transition to the big screen difficult? “No. The only difference is while shooting for serials, we would do 10 to 15 scenes a day, but for a film, even one scene requires a lot of attention. Every minute detail is looked into. Patience is a key factor while shooting a movie,” she says.
About her working experience, Neetha says that being a newcomer and the only woman in a 200-member crew, she got all the care and attention. “Brothers Anup and Nirup Bhandari were with me throughout. When we weren’t shooting, we used to play games like anthakshari. Not a single moment was I left alone. They treated me like family,” says Neetha, adding that Sudeep was very protective. “In the very first shot, Sudeep sir made sure I was comfortable. This helped in my performance. Throughout the journey, the team of Vikrant Rona stayed together, celebrated festivals, watched movies, and Sudeep made sure we were all with him. This is the best memory I take away from this project,” she tells us.
Vikrant Rona is already creating a buzz. So has this raised the bar for her? “As they say, we don’t know how long we will be in the limelight. So I am taking things as they come. I am glad to have mentors in Anup and Sudeep sir. I will wait for Vikrant Rona to release before I make my next move,” she sums up.