In a former life, the British/Sri Lankan actress known as Amara Karan earned a 2:1 in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University and spent two years working in mergers and acquisitions in the City. She’d always loved acting though, and the move away from school/college productions into the real, theatre-free world of high finance convinced her that she was on the wrong path. After quitting her day job, and making her mother cry, she entered drama school, graduated, wrote/directed a short film, and promptly thereafter scored a leading role in Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. According to an interview for ReDiff: “For someone like me, who is just starting her career, this was heavenly… In terms of what is expected of Indian actresses, my role may surprise some people, but that is what I like about this character. She lives outside the box but she is not a shallow character. She too has feelings and she is hurt in the end by the whirlwind affair with a stranger… It was fun and challenging to play Rita, but it was also important to me that the role doesn’t fit any cliché.”
In the same interview Karan enthuses over her then forthcoming turn in the St Trinian’s reboot: “I thought Darjeeling Limited was a gift from the gods, but this film was an even bigger gift because I play a character called Peaches. Here am I, of South Asian origin, playing a colour-blind role. That itself was a stimulating challenge.” I’ve never met the woman, but she comes across in the video interviews I’ve seen as terribly chirpy and charming… very genteel… I’m not sure there are many people who could get away with speaking so highly of such a minor role, and make you actually want to believe the hype… but somehow, she does. Apparently she’s rocking some sort of anti-snark shield… she’s simply too darn adorable to mock.
Unfortunately, that appears to be where her film career faltered… she isn’t even listed as a cast member for the St Trinian’s sequel… although cinema isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of acting, and she trod the boards in several plays (including a turn as Michelle Gomez’s sister, in an RSC production of The Taming of the Shrew). She’s also inspired a central character in the comic book I’m writing… so let’s hope that gets picked up and adapted into a movie and/or TV series, so that she can claim the lead role she so richly deserves!