Not many freshmen arrive on campus 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 an 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.
Singh caught the acting bug early, taking theatre classes in school and performing in plays. She went on to perform with local community theatre 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.
Singh said she chose the University 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, Madhu, has several Bollywood fusion dance academies in the area, where Singh also 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 pursue acting in the Indian film industry. She finished 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, which are made in north India. Singh doesn’t speak Telugu, so the role was particularly challenging.
“[Telugu] is 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.”
Singh is now getting offers to do other films and hopes to work on another movie soon. She has long-range plans of expanding the family’s business to include an acting school.