Ques: ‘PK‘ is the year’s most awaited film. What sealed the deal for you—Rajkumar Hirani, Aamir Khan or the role?
Anushka Sharma: The way I got the film is a story in itself. I met Raju (Rajkumar Hirani) at the screening of ‘Rockstar’. We shared pleasantries but I was zoned out after watching the film. Next day when I woke up I started getting flashes of my conversation with Raju Sir where he said that he’s finished scripting ‘PK’ and that he’ll call me soon. So, I texted him to check if he really said this or did I imagine it? He texted me back that he did offer me the film. For me, the biggest reason of doing the film was Raju Sir. When I heard the role, I was over the moon. Getting to work in ‘PK’ was a different kind of happiness. You need such moments in life to energise you. For Raju Hirani, it’s about chasing excellence. He wants to make his film pichle waali se better and not just badi. (Read: Anushka Sharma’s journey from being SRK’s heroine to Aamir Khan’s in PK)
Ques: Do you consider yourself as a director’s actress or by now you can tell the director that I want to do this shot my way?
Anushka Sharma: I need to be directed because filmmaking is a director’s medium. My acting has to fit different kinds of scenarios, storytelling and requirements. But I must confess that even after an ‘Ok’ take, I have always expressed a desire to give another take and all my directors have always appreciated it. Like Raju sir says an actor is only thinking about his/her character while the director is thinking of a hundred things so sometimes the actor can come up with something unique. I’ve learnt that good directors are always receptive to suggestions and ideas.
Ques: Did you have to work on breaking the ice with Aamir Khan or did the chemistry flow easily?
Anushka Sharma: It took some time to strike a comfort level with Aamir (Khan). I used to feel shy and intimidated when we started working together. He doesn’t talk much and I also like to give space to people so I couldn’t initiate a conversation if he didn’t. As we started working together, I started to relax and then we struck a rhythm. Actually the role that he has in the film required all his focus so he kept mostly to himself.
Ques: In just six years you have worked with the likes of Aditya & Yash Chopra, Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar. That’s quite a CV. When did this turn in your career happen?
Anushka Sharma: When Band Baaja Baaraat was releasing, I made a list of directors that I wanted to work with. I invited all these directors for the screening of ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ but nobody turned up. However after the film’s release, all of them called and spoke in detail about my performance. So, Band Baaja Baaraat was the turn. That was when I started listening to my heart and initiation. I started saying no to a lot of films. I learnt to be patient—for two years I didn’t have a release but I didn’t panic that nobody was writing about me. Once you figure out what you want to do then you only focus on the things that matter to you. Slowly I started walking on the path that I etched for myself. It’s a huge relief when you know what you want; then you just have to be strong and things will come your way.
Ques: Was it a conscious decision to stop doing the loud Punjabi girl next-door roles that you were doing?
Anushka Sharma: I was still choosing the best work from what was offered to me. The difference is that now I get more choice. I can’t just agree to play a different character in a bad film. Just to prove a point to others I won’t say yes to a bad film. I don’t like the idea of self-image. The only thing I want to strive for is that I want people to think that if Anushka is in the film then the film must be good.
Ques: What’s the biggest lesson that Bollywood has taught you?
Anushka Sharma: It’s to be true to yourself. This place can change you, an atmosphere is created around you and you start believing that it’s real but it’s the industry only that makes you realize that it’s not real. Eventually the industry is fair. This place has taught me to be patient.
Ques: Your appearance in Koffee with Karan resulted in a social media outrage about the way your lips were looking. You took the criticism head on Twitter. Was it easy?
Anushka Sharma: It took nothing to answer back. I just wanted to end the noise. I felt bullied. I didn’t know that people could be so mean. Some of the stuff was quite funny but some of it was pure vitriol that I cried. It’s because we don’t reply to them that people think they can get away with anything. If people have a right to say mean things to me then they should also listen to me. The incident taught me that if you bully back the bullies then they back off. I didn’t think I had to inform the world before getting my lips enhanced. It’s my body and my decision. It was for my character in Bombay Velvet and it was purely my decision. I didn’t know that I had to tell everyone. It’s like main kal joote khareedne jaa rahi hoon toh I have to inform everyone! People say that I started this ‘trend of taking on bullies’ and how others actors like Deepika (Padukone), Parineeti (Chopra), Sonakshi (Sinha) also did it but I didn’t want to start a trend. I just wanted to say that calm down, get over it.
Ques: But how do you handle the constant pressure to look good?
Anushka Sharma: It’s up to you if you want to take that pressure. If photographers want to take my picture when I’m making weird faces then it’s their choice. It doesn’t affect me anymore. I don’t let it affect me anymore.
Ques: In these six years have you become more ‘Bollywoodized’?
Anushka Sharma: I still feel like an outsider. I still don’t know what ‘Bollywoodized’ means. I take acting as a job. I don’t live it. I don’t just talk films and numbers still I will produce NH 10, which comes out in March. I want to contribute to good cinema and not just be a part of gossip of cinema.
Ques: Are you tracking the score of the India- Australia test series now that boyfriend Virat Kohli is scoring centuries?
Anushka Sharma: (Smiles) Well, I’m following the score but I don’t want to speak on him because if I start then it just won’t stop. I want a sense of normalcy in my life. I’m not hiding anything. I liked what Virat said that if you see us together then obviously we are together and to use your common sense.
Ques: How did you navigate the tough times when you were blamed for Virat’s bad form?
Anushka Sharma: It was a tough phase. It’s not easy to take attacks on yourself and your work but to be attacked for someone else’s work was very strange. I’ve been working since I was 15-years-old, Virat has been playing cricket since he was a young boy. He lost his father during a match but he came back and finished the match. How can anyone doubt his sincerity and competence? We operate in such a fickle world where we are not allowed to have one bad day. All this just teaches you to be strong and to do things only for yourself. When I got so much flack for my lip thing, I told myself that I’m an entertainer and I should only be bothered with my work and not what others are thinking because that keeps changing. This is how we become strong.