Rashmika Mandanna was amused when, only a week into her college career, her headmistress urged her to compete in a "Fresh Face" competition. Overcoming her parents' concerns about the "big city," she had relocated from coorg to Bengaluru in order to pursue degrees in psychology, journalism, and literature. Mandanna's mother was a homemaker and her father had a coffee plantation, so even though she was a "performer" and "loved dancing on stage," the world of glamour was foreign to her. The stars of films were "demi gods and unachievable."

By happenstance, she triumphed in college, then at the state and national levels. "I gambled on being genuine even though I didn't feel good about myself. I chose to enjoy myself," she remembers. She finally used that photo as her entry pass into the film business, and in 2016 she made her feature debut in the kannada film Kirik Party.

Mandanna has now established herself in Telugu, Tamil, kannada, and hindi cinema. With successes such Pushpa: The Rise, Sita Ramam (all Telugu), Mission Majnu, and Animal (both Hindi) to her credit, the performer has enjoyed a dream run in the previous few years.

"My life is now acting. According to the 27-year-old, "I don't think I could live without it." It's been such an amazing adventure. I've accomplished something that I mentally believed was unachievable. And this is only the beginning. She's excited about a few projects she has in the works, including pushpa 2: The Rule, The Girlfriend (Telugu), and Chaava (Hindi). "As an entrepreneur, there's also something coming up," adds Mandanna, who enjoys travelling and learning about different cultures and cuisines.

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