Cover Story

It’s Complicated

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anushka

SHE DOESN’T HAVE THE TRAPPINGS OF A STAR OR A PRETENTIOUS AIR ABOUT HERIN FACT, she comes across as real and grounded as one can be and this authenticity is reflected in her work as well. She is none other than Anushka Sharma, the fair-skinned and tall leggy lass who entered Tinsel Town with the blessings of the Yash Raj Banner and has since then, become a household name in a very short span of time.

HAILING FROM AN ARMY BACKGROUND IN UP, SHE HAD ASPIRATIONS OF A BECOMING A MODEL AND THE LAKME FASHION WEEK 2007 brought her in the limelight and despite no plans of acting, she landed a role in Aditya Chopra’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi in 2008 and was cast opposite Shah Rukh Khan. Her role was of Tani Sahni, who is a young bride to a middle aged man. To be paired with SRK in your very first film and get noticed is no small feat and Anushka’s natural flair for acting was hard to miss. The film received positive reviews and became a commercial success and it emerged as the second highest grossing Hindi film of the year 2008. Her ease and comfort in front of the camera became more prominent with another Yash Raj production Band Baaja Baaraat, a romantic comedy, co-starring debutant Ranveer Singh. She portrayed an ambitious middle-class Punjabi girl and brought cute and crude nuances, as required, to her character. She was convincing and endearing as an out-spoken Delhi wedding-planner and actually learnt to speak Punjabi for her role.

HER BIGGEST ROLE TO DATE WAS THAT OF A TELEVISION JOURNALIST WHO BEFRIENDSan alien(played by Aamir Khan) in Rajkumar Hirani’s religious satire PK, which garnered wide-spread critical acclaim and where she was praised for ‘holding her own’ against Khan.

SHE HAS STEADILY STRENGTHENED HER REPERTOIRE OF WORK BY TAKING ON A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT ROLES and this diversity has proved to be an asset for her. Her depiction of a dancer aboard a cruise ship in Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do, a comedy-drama starring a stellar cast including Anil Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Farhan Akhtar, was noted and appreciated among so many stars and as always her work stood out.

SHE IS WHAT SHE IS AND IT’S THIS GENUINE QUALITY THAT LENDS CREDIBILITY TO EVERY CHARACTER SHE ESSAYS ONSCREEN. Whether it is a ‘Shruti Kakar’ of Band Baaja Baraat, ‘Akira’ of Jab Tak Hai Jaan, or ‘Aarfaa Hussain’ in the Salman Khan starrer mega hit Sultan, she and her roles leave a mark on the viewer’s mind and are remembered long after the credits roll.

IN THE LATTER, ANUSHKA TOOK ON THE ROLE OF AARFA HUSSAIN, A WRESTLER FROM HARYANA OPPOSITE NONE OTHER THAN SALMAN KHAN, PLAYING THE TITLE ROLE. Taking on such a role in a sport drama showed guts and belief in her own abilities, which she backed by preparing and training for six weeks in the sport, learned to speak the Haryanvi dialect and also interacting with female wrestlers from the state. Critics were appreciative of her substantial role and noted, “even though she doesn’t have the physique of a wrestler, her spirited performance makes you believe in her tough but emotional character.” Sultan ranks among Indian cinema’s biggest earning movies.

Not one to shy away from de-glam roles, wearing minimal makeup and supporting an ensemble cast, it is the role and scope that apparently matters to Anushka.

“I’d rather shut myself in a room for six months than act in a bad movie.”

EVEN WHEN SHE IS ENACTING THE SPUNKY, FROTHY GIRLNEXT- DOOR IMAGE, she does it in an unaffected and believable sort of manner, which comes across as both charming and appealing. Her honesty in her acting makes her performances and her personality very likeable and engaging for the viewer.

HER ‘FRESHNESS’ ISN’T LIMITED ONLY TO HER ON-SCREEN PERSONA; her off-screen candor is just as refreshing. She herself admitted to Karan Johar on national television that Aditya Chopra told her, at the time of her debut, since she is not “conventionally pretty” and that she ought to work harder to prove her mettle.

THAT SHE’S COMFORTABLE IN HER SKIN IS OBVIOUS AND HER CHOICE OF FILMS and off-screen behavior reinforce this trait in her. She’s got the confidence and the talent to back it and this has been instrumental in helping her carve a niche for herself in a highly competitive film industry.

She herself believes in doing good work and is not interested in the numbers game. More than being just a name in the credits, she aims to contribute to her films, even if it comes at the cost of experimenting with roles and not doing the tried and tested.

Taking on realistic and performanceoriented roles she says,

“I do not choose characters because I think, ‘Wow, that woman is so strong.’ I chose these characters with utmost conviction because I think they were realistic enough to exist, and I really liked the scripts.”

A STARLET WITH BRAINS, ANUSHKA SHARMA TOOK A NEW PROFESSIONAL STEP IN 2014 by launching her own production company with her brother, named Clean Slate Films. The first release of her production company was Navdeep Singh’s thriller NH10 in the year 2015. Anushka herself played the lead role in the movie, which emerged as a box office success.

Not one to shy away from putting her opinion across and speaking her mind, Anushka has stood up for a variety of social causes. Her philanthropic stance has made her lend her support to numerous charities from child-education to flood-relief to transgender rights. Using her celebratory image constructively and intelligently has gained her respect from the industry and media alike.

Sharma has been in a relationship with the Indian cricket star Virat Kohli and their relationship has attracted substantial media coverage. Always in the news about her liaison with Kohli has made her regret her decision to go public about her private life. By not hiding her romantic relationship, unlike most leading heroines who either deny romance or stick to the “we’re just friends” tagline, Anushka actually admitted to dating Kohli. However, in her own words she wished she hadn’t.

“I will tell you why I don’t want to talk about it [her relationship]. I was open about my relationship because I thought that’s me handling something maturely and I expected people also to handle it maturely…

But I feel not everyone knows how to do that. All they are interested is in scoops. ‘Oh! They met.’ – How can meeting someone become such big news? It was just too much. As an actor, I was giving some of my best performances but in an interview, the headline would always be about my personal life.”

Public figures and celebrities will always be talked about and all this is part and parcel of being famous. Anushka has handled all the limelight, good and bad both, with maturity and poise.

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Her focus has been on her work and she knows she has immense possibilities and unexplored potential ahead of her. Within a very short time of just seven years, she has attained a remarkable level of recognition and success, both from the masses and the critics.

Her upcoming film, a Diwali release is a Karan Johar directorial venture called Aye Dil Hai Mushkil, ADHM, and its trailer and music are already making waves in the filmi world. A romantic drama co-starring Aishwarya Rai, Ranbir Kapoor and Fawad Khan, the film is already being touted as a to-be-hit with all the glossy trappings and high production values of a K-Jo product. This is one flick that all Bollywood fans are eagerly awaiting and if the promos are any indication, it won’t disappoint the audience.

My message is simple. Work hard, be sincere, be righteous and move forward.

The way you see me is the way I am.

When it comes to work, I am focused. I work like a maniac.

I have been fortunate enough to achieve a place in society where youth look up to me and observe me very keenly. So I make concerted efforts and follow certain principles in my day-today work that make a good impression.

Tell me one director who will go on record to say that I don’t get along with them? I get along famously with all my directors because I am what I am today because of them.

This piece has been written by Mahvish Gul, a self-confessed aficionado of all things film.
She is a resident of Dubai and a Professor of Economics at the American University of Dubai [AUD]

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