A girl of 15 was sitting in a café, chatting with her friends, laughing and talking animatedly. Unknown to her, a pair of eyes were watching her every move - taking in every expression and nuance. The man who was watching her got up, walked over to her and asked a question that millions of girls the world over dream of, ‘Would you be interested in acting?’ The girl Harshika Poonacha thought it was prank and played along, little knowing that the man would turn out to be the director of her debut Kannada film. “Fate plays strange games and it is ten years and 15 films since that day now,” she says.
“I did not actually dream of getting into movies but always loved being in the limelight. It also helped that I aced in dramatics, dance, sports and my studies. My teachers would tell me that I had the potential to become an actor but I would brush it away since nobody in my family had anything to do with acting,” she says. Right now she is taking her baby steps in Tamil and Malayalam, debuting in both.
It was fashion photographer Thammi Raman who suggested her name to the makers of Charminar, who scheduled a meeting and the rest fell in place. Harshika explains, “The director, Ajith C. Logesh, was looking for a model since my character is of a girl-next-door Nanditha who turns into a supermodel. Though I was not a model, but an actor, they liked my pictures. On my part, I liked the narration and fell in love with my character.”
Her role, equal in screen space to that of the hero, offered her a chance to showcase her acting histrionics, as she mentions, “I had actually two roles to play – one of an ordinary girl and the other of a girl who is ultra-glamorous. The body language and expressions of both the characters are complete opposites and that was a challenge I enjoyed!” Harshika also found the experience of acting in Malayalam very novel; one different from her home ground – Sandalwood.
She explains, “For one, a shoot gets over in a month in Malayalam, whereas I am used to taking schedule breaks in Kannada. I have never shot for a film at one stretch and for the first time, I could stay in my character for the whole 30 days of the shoot.” There is still wonder in her voice as she recounts her experience. Harshika considers it her good fortune to work with two talented actors in Charminar – Kollywood actor Ashwin Kumar and Hemanth Menon.
About Ashwin, she says, “A talented actor, he is also a good mimic. He adapted to his character so well. His dedication was such that he would not come out of his character and would even talk like his character does. He is a subtle actor.” Other than her co-actors, Harshika is also in awe of the technical side, which she thought was utterly professional. Before she ends, Harshika very candidly reveals, “I feel I am that same 15-year-old girl with butterflies in her stomach waiting for the result of her debut movie. Yes, I am nervous about my debut in Malayalam and hope the audience accepts me.”