Actor Ashwin Kumar became the darling of the social media after his unique treadmill dance became a trendsetter on the social media. ‘What is your ambition’ is the most clichéd question that a student faces on the first day of his/her college. Ashwin, however, didn’t have to think twice to declare, “I want to become an actor, a star!” on the very first day of college. Before he completed his statement, Ashwin could hear his classmates’ laughter.
But, the feisty teenager, who bore surgery marks on his lips, was unfazed by that mockery. He surprised them by performing mimicry, acting and even dancing in front them. Ashwin made a mark as an actor in the Tamil sleeper hit Dhruvangal 16 and Malayalam blockbuster Jacobinte Swargarajyam.
During the lockdown days, he treated his fans to an excellent video in which he is seen dancing merrily to Kamal Haasan’s iconic dance number Annanar Adarar, on a treadmill. The young actor was thrilled when the legend himself appreciated him for the unique performance.
When the entire world told him that he had limitations, Ashwin overcame it with his incredible talent. Though a Tamilian, Ashwin proudly say that the Malayali audience has accepted him with open hearts. Not many know that there is a painful flashback behind his confident smile. Ashwin gets candid about his struggles and also about his big break as an actor.
“I was born with a condition called bilateral cleft lip. It was difficult for me to speak as the pronunciations weren’t clear. It was my father and the doctors who molded me into a confident person. I had undergone 12 surgeries at various stages in my life. It wasn’t easy as you could develop complexes about your facial features. I have countless scars on my face. I become conscious whenever I pose for a selfie or a photo,” says Ashwin.
It was at college that Ashwin was introduced to co-education for the first time. Though he had always been passionate about acting, Ashwin had to deal with his own share of complexes as well. However, he thanks his family and the doctors for giving him confidence by supporting him. “I cannot express how grateful I am to the people who kept telling me, ‘Come on, you can do it’,” says the actor.
Ashwin credits Dr R Venkitaswamy and Dr Ramesh for transforming his face to the current form. Dr Venkitaswamy performed six surgeries on Ashwin. Later, Dr Ramesh took over the treatment. “Dr Ramesh is no more; he passed away three years ago. He was like my godfather. Whenever I had complexes about my features, I used to ask him whether we could do something else as I wasn’t sure how I would show my face in close up shots. After listening to my woes he would always say, ‘You have already done too many surgeries on your face, do you want more? You are talented and use it to make a mark. Besides, why do you think you have any impediments?’ My voice breaks with grief whenever I talk about him. I still miss him so much,” notes Ashwin.
Vineeth, the friend
Though Ashwin had first shot for the movie Dhruvangal 16, it was Malayalam movie Jacobinte Swargarajyam that was released first. “I don’t know whether I could have reached a position where I am able to give an interview like this had Vineeth Sreenivasan not found me. I cannot even think about a launch that was grander than this. I had gone to essay a minor part and it indeed was a gamble to entrust me with a significant role that was written for Tamil director Goutham Menon. Vineeth trusted me with the character without changing even a dialogue. I cannot thank Vineeth Sreenivasan enough for that,” says the actor.
Ashwin confesses that the first few days of the lockdown were pretty boring for him. It was then that he began concentrating more on fitness. He began working out as soon as the gym in his building was reopened. Ashwin decided to try the treadmill dance which he used to do earlier. He, in fact, had been doing it since five or six years. His social media page still has those old videos of him doing the treadmill dance. He wished to dance to one of Kamal Haasan’s songs during the lockdown.
“First, I would perform the dance steps on the treadmill without the song. It is only later that the song is edited into the video. I would have the timing of the song in my mind. I dance according to it. If someone sees how I shoot these videos, that person would think that there is something wrong with me, as I dance without the song. Anyways, everyone liked my treadmill dance. Kamal Haasan tweeted the video and appreciated me. I was thrilled beyond words could express. Meanwhile, it was actors Aju Varghese and Kunchacko Boban who made the video popular among Keralites,” explains Ashwin.
Ashwin will be next seen in the much anticipated Malayalam sports drama Aaha. The movie, which boasts of an ensemble cast, was slated to hit the theaters in May. However, the release date has been indefinitely postponed due to the Covid 19 outbreak. “The movie has vadamvali (tug of war) game as the central theme. Idrajith plays the lead role in it. Besides, actors like Manoj K Jayan, Amit Chakkalakal and Santhi Balachandran too play pivotal roles. I have essayed a unique character that I haven’t done before, in Aha. My character is shown in two different periods of time along with Indrettan’s character. I had to change my body for donning this role. I am very hopeful about Aaha. Like the audiences, I too am eagerly waiting for its release,” Ashwin signs off.