Actor Anushka Sharma says she worked with two professional trainers to immerse herself into her role as Aafia, a scientist with cerebral palsy, in Aanand L. Rai’s “Zero”.
The actor put herself through a rigorous three-month preparation process.
“I understood the challenge that I was going to face as an actor while playing this role. That is what excited me towards the role,” Anushka said in a statement.
“If I were able to pull it off, I would have accomplished something. So I wanted to do it the right way and represent this correctly. Aanand sir and Himanshu (writer Himanshu Sharma) had already researched a lot with doctors (about this condition) when they came to me with the film and had sketched out my character accordingly. I understood their brief and went with their vision and met with the doctors,” she added.
She said she worked with an occupational therapist and audiologist who helped her understand “what physical limitation my character would have and how my condition would impact my speech”.
“The difficult part in this was that I had to voluntarily create an involuntary movement that happens to my character because of my condition. While I had to focus on the dialogues, I also had focus on the emotion of the scene, which was difficult. So, in the beginning I would ask for some extra takes so that I could get it right because I wanted to make sure that I was doing it correctly,” added Anushka, who shares screen space with Shah Rukh Khan in the movie.
Anushka also spent time on a wheelchair.
“With time I started to understand it better – staying on the wheelchair the whole time I was on set and for three months before as I worked with the occupational therapist and audiologist. I did all these to understand the confinements one feels when one has to spend a lifetime on a wheelchair.
“I think all this practice helped in understanding the condition of the character well and the vision that Aanand L. Rai had for the role. I have tried to do it to the T,” she concludes.