Avantika Mishra, who made her acting debut in 2016 with the Telugu film 'Meeku Meere Maaku Meme', is going to be seen soon in 'Athidhi'. The Disney Plus Hotstar series will start streaming on September 19.
'Athidhi' has Avantika in the role of a ghost. In this interview, the actress talks about what transpired in her life since her feature film debut, overcoming inhibitions, and taking on the challenge of a complex character in her first Telugu web series. "This is an original script wherein all characters get their moments to shine," the 'Meeku Maathrame Chepta' damsel says.
I was still in college when I started out as an actor in 2016. I was figuring out if I wanted to do movies full-time or become a fighter pilot. An acting career demands a lot of patience. I have evolved into a better and more confident person over the years. I come from a Defence background. My father is a retired Air Force officer. Having grown up in a lot of places, I know a lot of languages.
Acting was not a dream for me. I was more into athletics. I was into Badminton before Engineering. I did Chemical Engineering in Bengaluru. Since I am tall, my friends in college advised me to pursue modeling as a passion when I was a hosteller. I did it for money as a freelancer. My father told me the first batch of women fighter pilots was coming out. Around that time, a lot of acting offers came my way. I was confused since I don't have a film background. My mother advised me not to shut my door on such offers and let Lakshmi Devi in (smiles). At that time, I didn't have the emotional maturity to pursue acting. I am different now. I come from a middle-class background and believe in destiny.
Before 'Athidhi', I did some movies in Telugu. Due to the pandemic, their release got delayed or (some of them) didn't materialize. I also did some work in Tamil in the meantime. A still from one of my Tamil movies caught the attention of the makers of 'Athidhi'. I felt I had the patience and maturity to experiment. I now want to earn the respect of the audience. I am new to Telugu. That's why I grabbed 'Athidhi'.
'Athidhi' has me in the role of a ghost with a lot of shades. What you have seen in the trailer is just 15% of the story. It's a mix of genres. You have thriller, horror, and fantasy. It is a tight story. Maya is my character's name. She is a mystery. She is a seductress. She is glamorous. That's what made the character complex.
Venu Thottempudi sir is loved by everybody. He is known for humour. He is a kind, generous person who made my performance better. He motivated me to do better on the sets of 'Athidhi'. I don't have any onscreen relation to his character. I walk into his mansion as a stranger on a rainy night. What transpires that night is what makes 'Athidhi' exciting.
This is the first time that I have played a ghost. She is scary, flawed, beautiful and much more. My director asked me to desist from smiling. I had to emote through my eyes. The feelings of the character are internalized. I had to look calm and subtle. You don't get away when you don't get it right in a web series. I started playing the character so much.
'Athidhi' is a psychological, new-age horror drama. It is not an in-your-face horror series. It is not like a 'Chandramukhi', 'Arundhati', 'Conjuring', or a 'Bhool Bhulaiyaa'. We had to do look tests, work on body language, etc. You have never seen something of this sort in Telugu. This is a 3-hour series divided into six episodes.
We shot long hours for days on end. Sometimes, we would not have access to the outside world due to network issues. A lot of rehearsals and practice went into getting the scenes right.
Female actors are getting strong roles in web series. Things are changing slowly in feature films also but they have a long way to go. In the case of web series, you get a wide reach only if you come up with novel concepts. In the case of films, an actress would have the opportunity to get popular with a chartbuster.
Adapting to new cultures is in my DNA. My father's Defence background helps me shoot in a remote village in Telangana without complaining.
I have appeared in a few Ads as well and directed one of them. I did one with Mahesh Babu. Incidentally, 'Athidhi' is the title of one of his movies (smiles).
I am a neutral person. Success doesn't get to my head. I am not bogged down by failure. The fire in my belly is very much intact.
I am doing another Hotstar series, this time in Tamil. I am also doing a Telugu feature film where you will see me dancing and singing. I am doing three Tamil movies.
I am playing ODI matches. I want to score a century today and wait for new opportunities to prove myself (smiles). For the past 1.5 years, I have only been shooting for different projects. They are coming out, one after another. When I entered the industry, I was 20. People would advise me to hurry up. I have learned that patience is the key. There is no formula. There is no technique that will work for everybody. Right now, I just want to do characters I am proud of. I just want to do a good job.