It’s the 30th birthday of Genelia D’Souza, a major figure in Telugu and South Indian cinema, something she’d never intended to be: she’d done a few television commercials in her teens, but producers saw something more. It took several weeks in 2002 to persuade her to take a role in Tujhe Meri Kasam (“Swear On Me”); the film, released in early 2003, did decent business, and it also produced rumors that Genelia and the male lead, Ritesh Deshmukh, were An Item, which were routinely denied for nearly a decade. (They were wed in 2012; they have two children.)
Geenu, as family and friends called her, has never shied away from working in commercials. These early ads, including her first and second, are easily found:
Cute or not, she’s occasionally run into controversy, sometimes silly. For instance, in Force (2011):
“We were shooting in Malshej Ghat and there was this old temple where we had got a local maharaj for the wedding sequence.
“Unfortunately the pandit has never witnessed a wedding and did not understand the concept of ‘cut’ and ‘action’ while shooting. It was a multi-camera set-up and so we needed to have minimum shots.
“However whenever [director] Nishikant Kamath would say cut, the pandit would not stop. Finally after the sixth phera someone from the unit realized that the mantras were real and if not stopped John and Genelia would be actually married. So, they were stopped before the final round.”
There is a Force 2, but D’Souza isn’t in it: her character apparently died in the five years between the two films.