Anushka Sharma completes five years in the movie business. In this interview,she talks about finding her groove,falling in love with the craft,turning producer with NH 10,dealing with haters,tweeting her craziness and Virat Kohli.
Ques: You complete five years in the industry. How do you look back at your journey so far?
Anushka: Five years and I’ve only done seven films. When I started out I wasn’t sure how I should be. I was told ki ‘actresses aisi hoti hain…’ I was very confused. It’s not that I’m not confident but Im very shy. I start palpitating when I’m with new people. For a year-and-a-half after ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ I didnt even have a PR person or a manager. I styled myself. I was struggling to find my groove who should I be. After much soul searching I’ve realised that I’m comfortable with myself. This is how I am.
Ques: Youve turned producer with ‘NH 10’. Did you always want to produce a film?
Anushka: Never. I was standing in my balcony with my business manager,Ashish,and I was talking to him about the script and I said that I want to produce it. It was an off-the-cuff remark. Ashish nodded and said that if you want to do it then we can figure it out. This is the first time that I’m doing a film,which is driven by a female character so I want to be more involved in this film. I just acted on my instinct. Thats how Ive always lived my life. My brother,Karnesh,and I will be looking after our company,Clean Slate Films. NH 10 will be our first venture. We start shooting in January.
Ques: How did you know you were ready to take such a huge step?
Anushka: Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Bombay Velvet’ is the turning point of my life. As I shot for this film,I fell in love with the craft,with the creativity behind the camera,the beauty and the power of cinema. The kind of film that it is,the character of a jazz singer that I play,the way Anurag directs and the intricate detailing that has gone into creating the ’60s period where the film is set all the magic that Anurag and his team were creating every day rubbed off on me. You know when I told Raju Hirani that Im producing a movie,his instant response was “Main tujhe bolne waala tha.” He told me that I should go and find the roles and characters that I want to do. Usually as actors,we have to wait for roles to come our way. If ‘NH 10’ works then it will allow me to enjoy my career I can do the films I want to do. Being No. 1,2 or 10 doesn’t bother me. I don’t want a tag. When I see Ranbir (Kapoor) and the choices he’s making,I feel empowered. His formula is right. He’s creating his stardom with good films.
Ques: What kind of roles do you like?
Anushka: I’d love to do films such as ‘The Holiday,Bridesmaids,Bachelorette’ and ‘Thelma & Louise’. These are fun films which a lot of women watch. I feel somehow we have not explored this space. I liked ‘Cocktail’ because of the two girls. But we hardly make films about girls because we think female actors are dispensable. The general perception in the industry is ki koi bhi aa ke kuch bhi kar sakta hai. I feel our female actors are more talented.
Ques: What really happened with Raj Kumar’s casting in NH 10? Was it your decision to replace him with Neil Bhoopalam?
Anushka: This is utter rubbish. When I met director Navdeep Singh he didn’t even mention that Raj Kumar was signed for the film. I think he was considered when Freida Pinto was doing the film. I can never do something like this. I know how it feels to be a part of a film when somebody doesn’t want you.
Ques: Which film are you talking about?
Anushka: Badmaash Company. The director (Parmeet Sethi) didn’t want me in the film. He wasnt fully convinced about me. As an actor I know that its the director who has to get the best out of the actor. Casting will never be my domain. The casting of NH 10 was Navdeep’s call. I can fight with Navdeep on creative issues,but I’ll never fight with the director on who the boy will be.
Ques: In these five years,whats been your biggest lesson?
Anushka: I’ve no reason to hide who I am because I came so far being who I am. When the news of me turning producer came out,many trade people texted me saying,”acting pe concentrate karo. Yeh kya kar rahe ho aap.” They are of the opinion that you should produce only when your career is over. But who has said this? ‘Kis ne kaha hai ki race pe lagna hai aur first aana hai?’ I’m willing to face the consequences of my decisions.
Ques: Any regrets?
Anushka: Professionally,none. I never put myself in a place I don’t want to be in. Even if it’s about endorsing a brand if I dont agree with what the brand is saying I wont promote it. Ive always known what I want. Personally,there have been ups and downs but I’ve come to realise that the downs are good for an actor’s emotional reserves. Earlier I used to get frazzled when something bad used to be written about me and I used to say it doesnt bother me but I was lying.
Ques: Whats been the worst thing written about you?
Anushka: People said Im ugly. It used to bother me a lot. Theres this site pinkvilla.com. They put up pictures and the haters write really nasty stuff. Earlier I used to get upset but now I deal with it. When you are happy about yourself then you dont care.
Ques: Recently,there have been stories linking you with cricketer Virat Kohli. Whats the status? Friends or something more?
Anushka: We are friends. I met him during the shoot of a shampoo commercial. I thought he’d be arrogant so I also went with arrogance but once we started shooting,I realised that he’s really chilled out. We shot together for three days and on the second day of the shoot,I was having a get-together at my place so I called him over to hang out with my friends. That’s what it was and the next thing I read is a completely fictional account of how we were smooching in a lift in front of some Aunty from my building who we made uncomfortable. Arrey,Im not even a hugging person. I feel very weird when everyone hugs each other on the sets. I’m like arrey kal hi toh mile thay yaar.
Ques: There was another story about how Virat kept turning back to look at you after you came to see him off in the parking area of your building?
Anushka: (Laughs) Yeah,I read that. I think it’s some bored neighbour with a notepad and pen who is writing these flop scenes from a bad film.
Ques: So,you are not seeing Virat Kohli?
Anushka: No,Im not.
Ques: Youve increased your presence on Twitter. Can you be yourself on Twitter?
Anushka: When I first came on Twitter,I saw the way others were tweeting and I wasn’t comfortable with that. Recently I tweeted a bizarre dream I had in which Zooey Deschanel was my best friend and I wore a t-shirt on top of a gown for a party. This tweet started trending. So I felt that my craziness is acceptable. Earlier I felt Twitter was confining my expressions in a certain way. That’s the frustrating aspect of being an actor. Ive always been a forthright person. But here everything is taken so seriously. You never know how what you say will be taken out of context,so actors tend to be guarded. Then they say actors are boring. But now I dont care. I cant be any other person.
Ques: What have you learnt from Raju Hirani and Anurag Kashyap while shooting for ‘P.K.’ and ‘Bombay Velvet’?
Anushka: From Raju,Ive learnt that the script is the baap,nothing comes above it. Hes so easy with his communication,theres a simplicity in his direction which is so heartwarming. As for Anurag,he has learnt to make his films on such small budgets with so many problems that nothing baffles him. ‘Set pe kuch bhi ho jaaye,koi property nahin aayi hai,kuch issue ho gaya’ but he is always chilled. This just shows how talented he is that he’ll power through any situation just to tell his story.