An enthralling narrative of transformation and talent, Avantika Mishra’s evolution transcends mere transition. Hailing from Hyderabad, she not only graced the world of modeling, shining for big brands, but also embarked on an acting trajectory where each step resonates with the depth and allure of her voyage. From her captivating debut in “Maaya” to leaving riveting performances in “Meeku Meere Maaku Meme,” “D Block,” and “Enna Solla Pogirai,” her cinematic expedition truly epitomises the enchanting passage into the realm of celluloid dreams. With a broader mindset and grander dreams, she is set to captivate discerning minds!

You studied at an Air Force institute and pursued engineering. How did your journey from that background lead you to modeling and to the world of films?
I attended an Air Force school and studied in eight schools across the country and abroad. Growing up as a middle-class child in South India, there’s a prevailing notion that engineering is the secure path for basic education. Excelling in science, I chose engineering without a clear passion at 17. However, upon entering a top college, I found it arduous and unenjoyable. Seeking an outlet for my creativity, I turned to modeling.

During my time at BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore, I joined the fashion team. Encouraged by professional model friends, I participated in a beauty contest during a college fest at UB City in Bangalore, initiated by a fashion guru. I walked the ramp and got selected, progressing through rounds. Despite my lack of confidence, I found success in modeling, opening doors for ads and fashion shows. My commercial look attracted many ads, including around 150 for renowned brands within a year. Although hesitant due to my middle-class background and lack of academic inclination, there were so many movies coming to me and my mother told me, “You’re really lucky, maybe you’re destiny’s child, and this is falling into your lap.” So I gave it a shot. That’s how my first film happened.

Throughout your career, what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?
So far in my career, I think I’ve learned that you don’t have to be the most beautiful and talented one in the room, but you have to be the most observant and hardworking in the room to be successful. Patience, preparation, and a dash of luck are what will take you far.

What’s your ultimate career goal for the future?
There’s no ultimate career goal for an artist because I think the goalpost keeps changing. As we get older, with more experience, the kind of characters that you gravitate towards changes. I currently enjoy young romantic and larger-than-life films. But maybe at a certain point, I would want to do films that are impactful, that can empower a certain part of society. My goal is to keep working for the rest of my life because this is my first love, my calling. I have a list of dream directors that I want to work with; I really hope I get to do that. When I started with no backing, some people had faith in me and put some money on me. I want to extend that support to young talents, technicians, and others, and create jobs for people. That would be the end goal – to produce content and help others.

Your perspective on the representation of women in the film industry, both locally and globally, would be interesting to hear. What are your thoughts?
Despite decades of debate, women have finally carved paths into various film industry departments. In the past, inspiring female counterparts were rare on the big screen, with crucial roles dominated by men. Progress has been made, but women remain underrepresented in diverse roles. Traditional stereotypes have limited us to non-professionals, homemakers, and damsels in distress. Audiences now crave robust female characters, driving the success of female-led movies and shows. While there’s more ground to cover, we’re in a stronger position, continuing the fight for equitable representation. Seniors have led the way, and it’s our duty to ensure the next generation embraces substantial roles to sustain this momentum.

For young individuals aspiring to build a career in the film industry, what advice would you give them based on your own journey?
To young individuals aspiring to build a career in the film industry, I would advise them to enter for the right reasons. Pursue the craft out of passion, not fame or money, to avoid early disappointment. This demanding field isn’t for the faint-hearted; it tests and challenges. In my case, I faced numerous rejections and failures, but perseverance pays off, leading to by-products like fame and fortune. I firmly believe that those who persevere can conquer the world.

Could you highlight some of the challenges you’ve encountered during your time in the film industry?
Being a first-generation entrant into any field is difficult. You develop a hustle mentality because there’s nobody but yourself looking out for you. I didn’t have anyone showing me the way or recommending me; I had to build everything from scratch. I didn’t have any contacts whatsoever. I think it was more about putting one foot in front of the other, knocking on doors, auditioning nonstop and being rejected a million times. But I think I have become a much stronger person through it all. I depend only on myself. Every achievement is mine, and I’m proud of it. It’s been a lonely but empowering and rewarding journey.

Handling fame and its pressures can be demanding. How do you personally manage them?
Starting out, I was really hard on myself. I was young, naive, and tied my happiness to success. But when expectations are high, it can lead to a lot of disappointment, right? Because here, everything hinges on external circumstances, validation, and things beyond our control. So, I’ve learned to detach from the outcome completely, switching off the moment the director says cut. After pack up, I switch off work entirely so I can focus on my mental and spiritual health.

Surrounding yourself with the right people is the next thing. For me, it’s still the same old friends and my family. They bring a sense of normalcy into my life. We talk about anything but movies, successes, or failures. That’s really important to me – keeping your feet firmly on the ground.

Lastly, it would probably be just not having expectations or looking for validation on social media. Instead, I focus on things that help me get better at my work. That’s how I deal with it. Maybe I’ll figure out more as I get more experienced. I’m sure I’ll have more nuggets of wisdom to share.

Being an actress must bring various experiences. What’s your favourite aspect of this profession, and do you have a dream role that you’d love to play? Also, who is your biggest source of inspiration in the film industry?
Being an actress is a journey filled with experiences. My favorite aspect is traveling, connecting with people from all walks of life, and listening to their stories – I’m a sucker for good conversations. I genuinely love people, along with exploring different cultures and learning new languages.
As for my dream role, it’s ever-evolving with age. Currently, I’d love to take on a big mythological film like Bahubali or Ponniyin Selvan. I’ve always wanted to play a warrior princess, do my own sword fighting. I’ve done a bit of fencing in my childhood, learnt a lot of that, learnt horse riding and action. So I hope I get to utilise all those skills. Working with a top director in a larger-than-life film is my dream.
In the film industry, my biggest inspirations are Rajinikanth, Amitabh Bachchan, and Shah Rukh Khan. Their journeys from humble beginnings and their continuous growth as artists have deeply inspired me. They embody the essence of overcoming challenges and pursuing what they love, even after decades of ruling the industry. I hope to work with all three of them one day. Starting from ground zero and succeeding despite challenges – that’s what this industry represents to me.