Ashish: Love Me demanded a lot of maturity as an actor

Ahead of the release of his second film, the actor opens up on preparing for a role with darker shades, the importance of consistent communication with the director, his future plans as an actor and more
Ashish: Love Me demanded a lot of maturity as an actor

LoveMe - If You Dare, a film by Dil Raju Productions that releases this week, might look like a horror-thriller. But Ashish, who plays the protagonist, insists there is a lot more to the film than what appears on the surface. He adds, “It’s hard to judge the story by the trailer. There is special emphasis on the love story. There is also a backstory that connects the ghost element, but Love Me is not a horror movie.” Ashish notes how, unlike other movies with supernatural elements, Love Me has a lot of emotional resonance. He explains, “Even the ghost has a lot of emotions. This story has a lot of trauma and pain.”

Talking about his character, Arjun, Ashish describes him as an individualistic and unpredictable young man. "Usually, when you imagine a hero, you think of a good, righteous man. Here, Arjun represents dark themes, which makes him unique. He is the kind of guy who does things when someone specifically asks him not to.” Playing Arjun was challenging in other ways as well, says Ashish, adding, “Usually actors have reference points for any difficult role. Here, my character talks to a ghost and asks them about their breakfast; I had no references for a role like this.” Ashish recalls the brief that his director, Arun Bhimavarapu, gave him. “Arun just told me to perceive Divyavathi (the ghost) as another human being,” he reveals. Ashish notes how there are plenty of such elements in Love Me that haven’t been explored earlier, adding, “Besides telling a unique story, Love Me will also stand out for its different approach to script-writing and execution. 

Ashish praises Arun, who was a novelist before he turned to filmmaking, for having an acute understanding of the characters, which helped him prepare for the role. He explains, “Arun has a solid grip on the characters, and knows how to inject the character into an artist. So I just decided to spend more time with him outside the shoot as well. Vaishnavi Chaitanya and I did a lot of workshops with him. I believe seventy percent of your work is done if you just keep on discussing the film and your role with your director.” Ashish also expresses great admiration for Arun’s calm and composed way of handling his cast and crew, adding on a lighter note, “Even the way he would point out the flaws in your performance is so sweet, you can’t help but listen to him.”

What also makes Love Me a special film for Ashish, he notes, is the presence of many stalwarts as part of the team. Ashish recalls feeling elated when music director MM Keeravani heard the script and instantly agreed to do the film. Ashish also recalls being nervous about working with a veteran like cinematographer PC Sreeram. “We were scared that PC Sir would scream at us or be too strict. However, he instantly defused the mood on day one, by cracking jokes and making us feel at ease.” Ashish also reminisces about a particularly fond memory with PC Sreeram on the shoot. The actor recalls the cinematographer telling him, “I don’t usually use close-ups, but I like your eyes, so I am making an exception.”

Besides Ashish, the film’s primary cast comprises actors like Vaishnavi Chaitanya, Ravi Krishna, and Simran Choudhary, all of whom are fairly new to the industry. Ashish reflects that sharing space with these actors made it easy to interact with each other and get along on the sets. The actor notes, “We all felt like students. Vaishnavi had just given an amazing performance in Baby, so she would talk about how she prepared for the role. We exchanged plenty of notes that way.” Ashish also mentions that the main cast had multiple script-reading sessions before the shoot. “There was complete clarity on sets. We just did one rehearsal before going for a take. Not one dialogue was changed.”

Ashish made his screen debut nearly two years ago with the film Rowdy Baby (2022). Ashish is confident that in Love Me, the audience will notice his growth as a performer. He adds, “My performance in Rowdy Baby had innocence. For Love Me, however, I needed a lot of maturity as an actor because the character is a lot more composed and self-assured. 

Besides Love Me, Ashish has another project in the pipeline, titled Selfish. Additionally, he has also signed another film under the Sithara Entertainments banner. The actor says that he is taking his time to select more projects, adding that he must have heard around 80 scripts in the last two years. “I have confidence in my taste and script sense, but I also like taking other people’s opinions before agreeing to any script. I never take these decisions alone.”

Talking about his future goals as an actor, Ashish reinstates that he would like to maintain a balance between commercial cinema and character-oriented cinema. The actor praises stars like Dhanush and Dulquer Salmaan in this context, adding, “I am a big Allu Arjun fan. And even in a film like Pushpa, we remember it for his performance. Of course every actor wants to do commercial cinema, but I also want to try different styles and communicate with a wider range of audiences.”

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