Thursday,
November 23, 2017

Thursday,
November 23, 2017

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Freshman's Star Is Rising Thanks to Role in Indian Film

UT Dallas freshman Sasha Peshwani, 19, who goes by the screen name Sasha Singh, has a feature role in a new independent Indian film. If you don't see the video, watch it on Vimeo.

Not many freshman students arrive at The University of Texas at Dallas with a movie credit already to their name.

Finance freshman Sasha Peshwani, 19, who goes by the screen name Sasha Singh, has a feature role in a new independent Indian film, Appatlo Okudundevadu.

Described by The Times of India as “a gripping story, high on action and emotion,” the movie opened in December at FunAsia in Richardson and Regal MacArthur Marketplace in Irving, and will be re-released this year in India.

The movie centers on an athlete who has great potential but is led into crime and also becomes a victim of circumstances. Singh plays a journalism student tracking down the facts about his story.

“My character is in present time, and most of the film which is about his life, is in flashbacks. I’m kind of solving the puzzle about this guy,” she said.

Singh caught the acting bug early, taking theater classes in middle school and high school and performing in school plays. She went on to perform with local community theater groups, and has also acted in commercials and episodes on the Being Indian web series.

“They’re silly and fun, but it was a lot of fun getting to know the YouTube scene,” Singh said.

In 2013, she won the title of Miss Teen Asian American Texas, which clinched her passion for the performing arts.

“That’s when I really just fell in love with it,” she recalled. “I guess this is kind of cheesy, but people usually talk about performance high. That’s what I feel when I’m onstage or in front of a camera. I just feel like I’m on top of the world. Everyone finds that in their own unique way, and I found that in acting.”

Sasha Singh

I  definitely want to pursue the performing arts, and to grow our business. I hope to do it all.

Sasha Singh

Singh said she chose UT Dallas for her degree program because it’s close to her hometown of Plano and she can take online classes as she pursues her acting career at different locations around the world.

“Also I’m just proud to be a Comet. My mom (Madhu Peshwani BA’04) and my sister (Sanya Peshwani BS’14) went here so it’s very close to my heart,” Singh said.

Her mother went on to establish a Bollywood fusion dance academy in Plano, Irving, Carrollton and Southlake where Singh teaches classes. (Singh also performs with the Bollywood dance team UT Dallas Sharara.)

When the mother and daughter traveled a few years ago to Mumbai, India, to purchase dance costumes for the academy, Singh decided to leave everything at home behind and pursue her passion of acting in the Indian film industry, finishing high school by taking online classes through the UT System.

“That’s when I stumbled upon this audition for this film. It was very far-fetched, and I was on top of the world when I got the call back for the film. I was ecstatic,” she said.

The movie is an example of Tollywood, a film industry based in south India using the Telugu language, rather than the Hindi scripts of Bollywood films made in north India. Singh doesn’t speak Telugu, so the role was particularly challenging.

“It was hard at first. It’s like an alien language to me, but slowly I started to pick up on words,” Singh said. “Definitely the lines were hard to emote. It took a lot of practicing and hard work, but I think it turned out well.”

Because of background and outdoor noise, the cast couldn’t use microphones as they filmed their scenes, so voices were dubbed in later.

“Most of the actors who spoke the language dubbed their own part. Mine was dubbed by a lovely young girl, a singer. It wasn’t my voice, but I was speaking. It was definitely a new experience.”

When the movie was released, Singh said it was “definitely weird” to see herself on the big screen.

“I’d been going to this theater my whole life. Seeing myself was like, ‘Whoa! Is this a dream?’ It was really weird for me,” Singh said. “But it was satisfying. It was rewarding. After all the hard work that was put in I finally got the finished product.”  

Singh is now getting offers to do other films and hopes to work on another movie soon. Eventually she would like to expand her family’s business to include an acting school.

“I definitely want to pursue the performing arts, and to grow our business. I hope to do it all,” Singh said.

Media Contact: Robin Russell, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].


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