What is Pongal?
Pongal is a four-day harvest festival in Tamil Nadu, the name of which means 'boiling over' or 'spilling over', signifying abundance and prosperity. It takes place in mid-January each year and corresponds with Makar Sankranti, which marks the first day of the sun's return journey to the northern hemisphere. Although a January harvest isn't common in the western world, India's hot and monsoonal climate provides two growing seasons.
Pongal is the most popular festival of the year in Tamil Nadu, as much of the state relies on agriculture and the sun is necessary for good growth. See pictures of how the festival is celebrated in this Pongal photo gallery.
Making the Pongal Kolam
On the first day of the Pongal festival, homes are cleaned, and a kolam is drawn on the floor using plain and colored rice flour. It's not only pretty and welcoming. It also defines the sacred area where the Pongal dish is prepared.
The Pongal Dish
The Pongal dish is cooked on the second and most important day of the Pongal festival, and people gather to feast. It's made out of rice that's boiled with milk and jaggery (unrefined sugar) in an earthen or steel pot. Raisins and cashews can also be added. It's known as sweetpongal or chakkara pongal.
Preparing the Pongal Pot
Within the area of the kolam, a fire is made to cook the Pongal dish. The pot is set up in direct view of the sun.
Decorating the Pongal Pot
But first, the Pongal pot is decorated with turmeric root, which is cut and tied together around its edge.
Selling Turmeric for the Pongal Festival
Turmeric signifies auspiciousness and general well-being. Vendors can be seen in Tamil Nadu selling turmeric especially for the festival.
Selling Sugar Cane for the Pongal Festival
Street vendors also sell sugar cane, which is made as an offering to the Sun God during the Pongal festival. It's the harvest from a predominant crop in Tamil Nadu.
The highlight of cooking the Pongal dish is when the milk boils over. This 'overflow' signifies abundance, which is the meaning of the Pongal festival. People shout, 'pongalo pongal'.
Once the Pongal dish has been prepared, it's offered to the Sun God. After prayer, the dish is shared with family and friends.
Cows and bulls take the limelight on the third day of the Pongal festival, called Mattu Pongal. This day is dedicated to decorating and worshiping farm animals that are used to perform work in the fields. It's common to see them in the street, painted different colors and adorned with balloons. The atmosphere on Mattu Pongal is upbeat and carnival-like. Head to the Big Temple in Thanjavur to see cows lined up by their owners for blessings.
Jallikattu: A Traditional Pongal Sport
Jallikattu is a traditional bull-taming sport that's usually a part of celebrations on Mattu Pongal day. It involves a bull being released into a crowd of people, who attempt to grab the hump on the bull's back and hold onto it as long as possible. However, Jallikattu has been banned in recent years due to controversy over animal cruelty. Events continue to be held in protest and the legal situation hasn't yet been clearly resolved.
Asin at Bol Bachchan press meet.
26 October 1985 (age 33)
Kochi, Kerala, India
|Occupation||Actress, Model, Dancer|
|Known for||Ghajini, Pokkiri, Kaavalan, Dasavatharam|
|Home town||Kochi, Kerala, India|
Asin Thottumkal (born 26 October 1985), known mononymously as Asin, is a former Indian actress who mostly appeared in Tamil films. She also appeared in lead roles in Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam films. She is a trained Bharathanatyam dancer. She has received three Filmfare Awards. She began her acting career in the South Indian film industry, but later shifted her focus to Bollywood. She speaks eight languages, and dubs her own films. She is the only Malayali actress, other than Padmini, to have dubbed in her own voice for all her films, irrespective of language. Asin has been referred to as the 'Queen of Kollywood' by online portals in 2007. She is a member of the Bollywood 100 Crore Club.
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Making her acting debut with Sathyan Anthikkad's Malayalam filmNarendran Makan Jayakanthan Vaka (2001), Asin had her first commercial success with the Telugu film Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi in 2003, and won a Filmfare Best Telugu Actress Award for the film. M. Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi (2004) was her debut in Tamil and a huge success. She received her Filmfare Best Tamil Actress Award for her most noted critically acclaimed performance in her third Tamil film, Ghajini (2005). She then played the lead female roles in many successful films, the most notable being the action Sivakasi (2005), the dramatic thriller Varalaru (2006), the action thriller Pokkiri (2007), the romantic drama Vel (2008) and Dasavathaaram (2008), hence established herself as the leading actress of Tamil cinema and was also honoured by the Tamil Nadu government with the Kalaimamani award for her excellence in the field of art and literature. In 2013, Asin was conferred with the Pride of South Indian Cinema award at SIIMA for her contribution to Tamil cinema.
In late 2008, Asin made her debut in the Bollywood film Ghajini (2008), opposite Aamir Khan, which was the first Bollywood film to have collected more than ₹1 billion in the domestic box office, subsequently collecting ₹1.9 billion (US$27 million) worldwide. Asin won the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award and many accolades for Ghajini. 2011 marked the most successful phase of Asin's Bollywood career, as she starred in Anees Bazmee's romantic comedyReady, in which she co-starred alongside Salman Khan. The film was a major hit at the box office, collecting ₹1.84 billion (US$27 million) worldwide. In 2012, Asin first starred in Sajid Khan's multistarrer Housefull 2, which collected more than ₹1 billion. She then featured in Bol Bachchan and Khiladi 786, which were also commercially successful with both grossing over ₹1 billion.
- 3Other work
Asin was born in Kochi in Kerala in a MalayaliSyro-Malabar Catholic family. Her father Joseph Thottumkal is an Ex-CBI officer and later managed several businesses. Her mother Seline Thottumkal, who moved from Kochi to Chennai and then to Mumbai to live with her daughter, is a surgeon. According to custom, Asin was to be named Mary, after her paternal grandmother. Asin's father however, named her Asin as the name had a beautiful meaning. Asin has quoted that her name means 'pure and without blemish'. She states that the 'A' in her name is from Sanskrit meaning 'without', and 'sin' from English.
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She attended Naval Public School from LKG through X standard. She then attended St. Teresa's School in Kochi for her Kerala Higher Secondary Examination Board (Plus Two) Education. After that, she attended St. Teresa's College in Kochi, a college affiliated with MG University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.
Early work (2001–04)
Asin's first assignment was an advertisement for BPL Mobile. She debuted in the Malayalam film Narendran Makan Jayakanthan Vaka in 2001, at the age of 15. After taking a year out to pursue her education, Asin returned with her breakthrough film as an actress, Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi opposite Ravi Teja, portraying a Tamil girl in her first Telugu language film, which subsequently fetched her the Telugu Filmfare Award for Best Actress. In the same year she won the Santosham Best Actress Award for her performance alongside Akkineni Nagarjuna in her second Telugu film Shivamani. Her following two Telugu films Lakshmi Narasimha and Gharshana, both portrayed Asin as the love interest for police officers and both were successful ventures.
Asin's first Tamil language film was M. Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi, in which she co-starred with Jayam Ravi. Asin reprised her role from her film Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi for the remake, which saw her portraying a Malayali girl instead of the Tamil girl in the original. The movie subsequently went on to super-hit in Tamil cinema during 2004, introducing Asin to Tamil film industry. After a brief return to Telugu films, to do Chakram, she appeared in Ullam Ketkumae. The film, initially launched in 2002, was supposed to be her debut as a lead heroine, is a college love story, directed by Jeeva, which was long-delayed but eventually became a successful venture at the box office, creating wider opportunities for her and the rest of the cast.
Kollywood breakthrough and stardom (2005–07)
After the release of Ullam Ketkumae, Asin was cited as a leading heroine of the Tamil film industry after starring in blockbuster films such as Ghajini, Sivakasi, Varalaru and Pokkiri respectively. The film which provided the breakthrough for Asin was Ghajini. The film, co-starring Surya, directed by A.R. Murugadoss, earned her the Tamil Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Her role was that of a vivacious young model named Kalpana. Sify.com praised her portrayal as 'magical', describing her character as a 'lovable chatterbox', played with 'sheer ability in the romantic interludes, the poignant and heartfelt scenes when she rescues minor girls from villains and her gory end are touching'. On the following Diwali in 2005, Asin had two releases, Sivakasi and Majaa. Despite the latter becoming an average grosser, the former went on to be a successful venture at the box office.
The following year, her long-delayed venture Varalaru opposite Ajith Kumar also succeeded at the box office, and The Hindu said she 'looks lustrous and sails through her role smoothly'. Asin appeared in Pawan Kalyan's Annavaram, another successful venture, which was a remake of Thirupaachi. In January 2007, Asin appeared opposite Ajith Kumar and Vijay in two different films, Aalwar and Pokkiri, with the latter becoming a success, whilst Aalwar became a failure. Though Asin's role in Aalwar was criticised, her performance in Pokkiri was lauded by critics. Her final project of the year was opposite Surya, in Hari'sVel, which had a Diwali 2007 release, subsequently becoming her third successful film which released during the Diwali season in three years. Asin, who portrayed a TV anchor, was appreciated for her role in the film.
Bollywood debut (2008–10)
Asin appeared in her first dual role in K. S. Ravikumar's Dasavathaaram opposite Kamal Haasan, who portrayed ten roles. The film had been under production since September 2006. Despite being overshadowed by Haasan's ten roles, Asin's portrayals in the film were praised as her 'best-to-date', with one of her roles being that of a Vaishnavite in 12th century Tamil Nadu; whilst the other character was a Brahmin girl from Chidambaram, for which she won her first ITFA Best Actress Award.Dasavathaaram subsequently went on to become one of the blockbusters.
Since establishing herself as the leading actress in South India, Asin opted to move into Bollywood. Her first film Ghajini, opposite Aamir Khan, was the remake of her breakthrough film of the same name. Upon release, the film garnered positive reactions from critics and masses alike, with Asin being singled out for her 'fabulous' portrayal. Noted critic Taran Adarsh described her Hindi debut as 'fabulous' and that 'to share the screen space with an actor of the stature of Aamir Khan and yet remain in your memory even after the show has ended is no cakewalk. She looks fresh and photogenic and acts her part brilliantly, giving Asin's performance a positive outlook.'
Ghajini became the highest grossing Bollywood film of 2008 and the sixth highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time according to net collections. Asin later appeared in Vipul Shah's London Dreams, alongside Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn, in which she played a south Indian girl, Priya, who is emotional but strong willed and an ambitious dancer at the same time. The film received mixed reviews from critics.
Her first film of 2011 was Kaavalan, which released on 15 January 2011. The film was a critical and commercial success.Behindwoods review of the film praised her performance: 'Asin, in Tamil for the first time after Dasavatharam, convinces us with her portrayal. The chemistry of the lead pair has worked out well; especially the portions w things that ultimately result in love'. The chemistry between Vijay and Asin worked out well and was appreciated. Asin went on to win the SIIMA Award for Best Actress for this film. The film also includes Vadivelu as the comedian along with Mithra Kurian, Roja and Rajkiran playing supporting roles.
Breakthrough in Bollywood (2011–2015)
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Her next movie with Salman Khan, Ready, was released on 3 June 2011 to mixed reviews. Critics praised the chemistry between Salman and Asin. Upon release, Ready became the second highest weekend grossing Bollywood film, after Dabangg and went on to become the fifth film in Bollywood history to cross the coveted ₹1 billion (US$14 million) mark in the domestic market.
In 2012, she first appeared alongside Akshay Kumar in Sajid Khan's multistarrer comedy Housefull 2. Though it received a mixed critical reception, it was a major commercial success. Asin generally received favourable reviews for her performance, with Adarsh stating that '[a]mongst the female leads, Asin has the meatiest role and gives a decent account of herself.'
On 6 July 2012, Rohit Shetty's Bol Bachchan, alongside Ajay Devgn and Abhishek Bachchan, released with mixed reviews with the critics praising the performances of Asin, Ajay Devgn and Abhishek Bachchan. Taran Adarsh from Bollywood Hungama, who praised Asin's performance stated: 'Asin does well, though her screen time is limited. Nonetheless, her amiable looks and stimulating smile add to her charisma!!.' While the reviewer from Behindwoods quoted: 'There is a small surprise with regards to Asin's role. She is the romantic interest of Ajay and looks serene and absolutely cute.' The movie is now declared a superhit.
Khiladi 786, in which she reunited with her Housefull 2 costar, Akshay Kumar, released on 7 December 2012 to mixed reviews, but was strong at the box office and eventually became a commercially successful venture.
Asin did not appear in any movie in 2013 or 2014. Her only movie release of 2015 was All Is Well, directed by Umesh Shukla and produced by Bhushan Kumar. In one interview, director Umesh Shukla stated that Asin would be seen in an 'important dramatic role'.
During the shoot of her film Ready in Sri Lanka, she was part of camps that were meant to help the Sri Lankan Tamil people who were affected by the Sri Lankan Civil War.
In an interview during the DNA I Can Women's Half Marathon in 2012, Asin, speaking about the importance of health and the necessity of education said:
'This cause is probably one of the biggest women-centric issues in our country. I support the education of six children each year, five of which are girls. I have closely worked with these children and I know that if given the opportunity, women can educate themselves much better and know what is wrong or right for them. Education is a basic right and women should not be deprived of that.'
Asin has been the brand ambassador for several companies and products, and has appeared in commercials for Avon,Mirinda,Colgate, Fairever,Tanishq,Big Bazaar,Parachute, Spinz talc,Lux, Amrutanjan Healthcare, and Clinic All Clear. Asin has been endorsing Mirinda soft drinks since 2004.
Asin currently resides in Mumbai. She also owns an apartment in Marine Drive, Kochi and a farmhouse in Vagamon, Kerala. The actress is a polyglot. She can speak seven languages; being well-versed in Malayalam (her mother tongue), Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit, English, Hindi and French. Asin also speaks a smattering of Italian and learnt basic Marathi for her movie Khiladi 786, in which she played a typical Marathi girl. In June 2013, it was reported in the Indian media that Asin was learning German during her free time. She began learning Spanish after visiting Spain in early 2014.
Asin married Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma in January 2016, and quit acting after the wedding. Her first child, a daughter Arin, was born on 24 October 2017.
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|2001||Narendran Makan Jayakanthan Vaka||Swathi||Malayalam||Satyan Anthikad||Debut Movie|||
|2003||Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi||Mugaambigaambaal 'Chennai'||Telugu||Puri Jagannadh||Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu|||
|2003||Sivamani||Vasantha||Telugu||Puri Jagannadh||Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu|||
|2004||M. Kumaran S/O Mahalakshmi||Mythili 'Malabar'||Tamil||M. Raja||Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil|||
|2004||Lakshmi Narasimha||Rukhmini||Telugu||Jayanth C. Paranjee|||
|2004||Gharshana||Maya||Telugu||Gautham Menon||Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu|||
|2005||Chakram||Lakshmi||Telugu||Krishna Vamsi||Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu|||
|2005||Ghajini||Kalpana||Tamil||A.R. Murugadoss||Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil|||
|2005||Majaa||Seetha Lakshmi||Tamil||Shafi||Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil|||
|2006||Annavaram||Aishwarya||Telugu||Bhimaneni Srinivasa Rao|||
|2006||Varalaru||Divya||Tamil||K. S. Ravikumar|||
|2007||Pokkiri||Shruti||Tamil||Prabhu Deva||Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil|||
|2008||Dasavathaaram||Kothai Radha & Andaal||Tamil||K.S. Ravikumar||Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil|||
|2008||Ghajini||Kalpana Shetty||Hindi||A.R. Murugadoss||Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut|
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress
|2009||London Dreams||Priya||Hindi||Vipul Amrutlal Shah|||
|2011||Kaavalan||Meera Muthuramalingam||Tamil||Siddhique||Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil|||
|2011||Ready||Sanjana Singh||Hindi||Anees Bazmee|||
|2012||Housefull 2||Heena Kapoor||Hindi||Sajid Khan|||
|2012||Bol Bachchan||Sania Ali / Sania Bachchan / Apeksha||Hindi||Rohit Shetty|||
|2012||Khiladi 786||Indu Tendulkar||Hindi||Ashish R Mohan|||
|2015||All Is Well||Nimmi||Hindi||Umesh Shukla|||
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