Much more than just a child actor - Ollywood sensation Akankhya is a chess champion & brilliant student

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By SHILPI SAMPAD
  • Published 11.09.10
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Bhubaneswar, Sept. 10: Her radiant eyes and disarming smile have won the hearts of all movie buffs in the state. With her scintillating performances, both on the small and the big screen, this little star of the Oriya film industry has swept the audience off their feet.

Meet 12-year-old Ollywood sensation Akankhya Kabi.

Akankhya made her acting debut when she was just nine in the national award-winning film “Puja pain phula tie” in 2007 and has never looked back ever since.

“My first film was highly appreciated by the audience and is very close to my heart. I am very fortunate to have started off with an award-winning film,” she said.

Film director Gadadhar Puty, who gave her the break, is all praise for her.

“She is a brilliant actor. I had auditioned over 1,000 girls for the role but none was as convincing as Akankhya,” he said. After the success of her first film, she got a lot of offers. She went on to play the childhood roles of lead actresses of seven more films with seven different directors – Aei mana mane na, Dhauli express, Chaka chaka bhaunri, Kali Shankar, Satyameva jayate, Aa janha re lekhiba naa and Aaji aakashe ki ranga lagila – for which she received good reviews.

“I did my last film in 2009 but am still flooded with offers. I have rejected some of them since the roles were not suitable for a girl of my age,” she said. Before entering the world of Oriya cinema, Akankhya had been a household name as the host of several programmes on Doordarshan and other local television channels like OTV, ETV, Naxatra and Tarang.

At present, she is the host of a children’s show on Lakshya TV called Chitthi moro tiki chadhei.

She has an unending list of awards in her kitty, among which the Chalachitra Jagata (for Puja pain phula tie) in 2007 and Om Shree (for Kali Shankar) in 2008 are the ones she values the most.

Films and television shows are not the only areas where this child prodigy excels. Akankhya, a Class VII student of DAV Chandrasekhapur, is also an outstanding student. Besides, she is a trained Odissi classical dancer, state-level junior chess champion and a painter. For the last two years, she has won the state-level under-13 and under-15 chess championships. “I also won the under-7 and under-9 chess championships,” said Akankhya, who idolises her school senior, Woman International Master Padmini Rout.

Akankhya, who was awarded the National Children’s Award for exceptional achievement in 2009 in New Delhi, aspires to become a doctor and also to continue with her passion for chess.

Stating that she draws inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, Akankhya said: “My aai (grandmother) and my well-wishers have been my pillars of strength.”

“Among actresses, Madhuri Dixit, Rani Mukherji, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Shahid Kapoor are my all time hot-favourites,” she added.

An ardent Sai Baba devotee, Akankhya, a fussy eater, has given up non-vegetarian food. “However, I cannot sacrifice eating chocolates,” she chuckled.

In her leisure time, which she hardly gets, she loves watching television, surfing the net, listening to Bollywood songs and painting. She also loves shopping for trendy clothes, shoes, bags and cosmetics.

“My wardrobes are now almost full and are gasping for breath,” she quipped.

When asked about her mother Padmaja, a Sanskrit lecturer at Kendrapara, who accompanies her to every competition and shows, she said, “Without my mother, it would have been impossible for me to be what I am today.”