Asin Thottumkal debuted in a supporting role in Sathyan Anthikkad’s 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.
Asin’s first Tamil language film was M. Kumaran son of 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 become one of the biggest hits 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, 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 lead cast.
After the release of Ullam Ketkumae, Asin was cited as a leading heroine after the Tamil industry films Ghajini, Majaa, Sivakasi and Varalaru respectively. The film which provided the breakthrough for Asin was Ghajini. The film, co-starring Surya and Nayantara and 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”, descriving 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” 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, despite Asin’s poorly etched out role.
The following year, her long-delayed venture, Varalaru opposite Ajith Kumar’s hero-centric plot retreated Asin to the sidelines, but The Hindu said she “looks lustrous and sails through her role smoothly” Asin appeared in Pawan Kalyan’s Annavaram, another successful venture in which she had a poorly-etched out role. 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. Whilst Asin’s role in Aalwar was criticized, her performance in Pokkiri was lauded by critics. Her final project of the year was opposite Surya, in Hari’s Vel, 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.
Asin at the Fairever Fruit Fairness Cream launch event, 2009
Asin appeared in her first dual role in K. S. Ravikumar’s Dasavathaaram opposite Kamal Haasan, who portrayed ten roles. The film, which was under production since September 2006, became Asin’s largest film till date. 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 Dasavathaaram subsequently went on to become one of the biggest blockbusters in South Indian film history. Since establishing herself as the leading actress in South India, Asin opted to move into Bollywood, to get nationwide fame. 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” portray. Noted critic, Taran Adarsh describes 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. Asin later appeared in Vipul Shah’s London Dreams alongside Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan, in which she played a member of a five-troupe band.
Kaavalan was released on 15 January 2011. 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 where Asin tries various ways to exasperate Vijay; things that ultimately result in love” She has completed working with Salman Khan on Ready, which is scheduled to be released on June 3, 2011. She will start working on Housefull 2 opposite Akshay Kumar for the first time under the direction of Sajid Khan which will be produced by Sajid Nadiadwala in July. She has also been roped in for the Chetan Bhagat adaptation 2 states movie alongside Shahrukh Khan which is also produced by Sajid Nadiadwala and directed by Vishal Bhardwaj