Interview By: AMUL VIKAS MOHAN

One name synonymous within the top bracket of actresses in the industry has been that of Anushka Sharma. The actress has a knack for hand picking some of the most diverse characters out there and also has a knack to be super successful with the same as well. She has already got two mega releases this year in PARI and the recent hit SUI DHAAGA and now she is gearing up with another massive movie i.e. ZERO which opens in cinemas worldwide on December 21st. I spoke to the always on the go actress over the phone and we spoke about everything under the sun from her responsibilities as an actress-producer to her completing a decade in the film industry. Read on for the excerpts.    

‘Zero’ is going to be your third release of the year and somehow all the characters you have picked have been unconventional in its own way, with ‘Pari’, ‘Sui Dhaaga’, and now with ‘Zero’. What is that one thing that gravitates you towards these characters?

I agree with you. I mean these are performance orientated characters and one very different from the other and I believe, as an actor I’ve always tried to strive for that. In terms of the versatility in my role and the appreciation that I have received for them and I feel this is a very strong year for me, performance wise. And I am happy that it happened in a time where all three roles gave that kind of versatility, gave that kind of diversity to me as an actor, to be able to show my range as an actor. So it’s definitely a good performance year for me and I feel happy. And I’ve always tried doing and I always tried to look for roles which are different from one another and I have managed to do it this year, so I feel good.

How happy are you with the response to ‘Sui Dhaaga’ barring the memes and everything else that was prior to the release but post the release, are you happy with the response the film has received?

I was really happy and I was also happy with the memes because I think it was a big compliment, cause when as a character you can look so realistic that people can actually find that to put in different situations and in a hilarious fashion and anyway I enjoy that kind of humor. I really enjoyed it and I also think it was a very flattering thing and it did really help to promote the film (laughs). So I’m really happy with the reviews the film has received and I personally have received. Also, the film has touched many people’s hearts and it has made a strong point and it had a different voice and I think all those things got recognized, and everyone’s work got recognized including mine. So I feel all in all, it’s a very good situation for everyone to be in.

No mainstream actresses really have the willingness to do a horror genre. But ‘Pari’ was like another dimension of a horror film which was not really exploited in Bollywood industry, especially. Also to produce it, what was the process there to push the envelope and to be brave enough to not only producing it but also starring in it?

I have always really made decisions in life on my intuition in the forefront. If it has never be done before and seen before than I’m always game to do it. I have always done things with unconventional passion and always made decisions which have been off the beat and sometimes, like in the case of PARI, I was the first person to do something like that, and I feel those things have never scared me. I see a lot of potential in horror in India, actually Indians love watching horror and I think this was an atmospheric horror which I think was very new for anybody to understand. PARI is a horror film with sensibility, with emotions, with feelings, and not just jump scare, which we actually wanted to go for, and we have achieved that. I think apart from the business of PARI, the kind of recognition the genre received, the kind of reinvention the genre was able to create; and I believe it has also opened space for many more films which should be made in this genre. I think these kind of films work with Indians and I believe this was something that we wanted to, whether it works out and to what extent, because that will let us know people’s likability of the film and we definitely saw a lot of potential. And in future if we receive some script that carters to this kind of genre, we would be up for it for sure.

As a producer, how much do you think you are involved in order to make choices and how to execute them?

You quietly take decisions that your company finds interesting, what we find is different, what we think is unique, and I think somewhere we have managed with each film. What you can say is we have always tried to go for something unique and something that makes people notice and I believe we have managed to that, and we will continue to do that and find unique stories, we will continue to find different points of view, different voices and while doing that we learn from the mistakes which we might have made, obviously everyone should; and add and strengthen the positives and strengthen the things that have worked for us. And I feel that’s the way forward. It is a journey we are committed to, we will not decide or judge ourselves, we come from outside the industry and we haven’t grown up in the film fraternity. For us, I think every day is a learning experience and we are backing ourselves. And other thing I feel that happened with us is, because our ability generates different content and now we are even producing web series for Amazon and others. So I think what is happening is that people are actually looking at us and we are definitely seeing the potential that we offer as a production house, in creating different content, even if I am not acting in it, and that is what we take a lot pride in.

“I think it’s beautiful that the 10 years that I’ve completed in the industry, I am doing a film with SRK with whom I started my career.”

How proud do you feel to have such a huge impact in such a little time in terms of your production house, also with the fact that you were once not from the industry?

The thing is that these factors have to be considered, you can’t just keep looking at your success on the bases of box office which is extremely important to us also. We keep this journey as a very long one, every step we take as a positive one, and every step taken forward has opened new avenues for us and also created different and unique opportunities for others also. So I think as a production house we have contributed a lot, whether it’s working with new talent, whether they are directors, writers or even musicians; so somewhere we are really like backing our conventions and we are learning from our mistakes.  It’s a journey that we have just started and definitely made people make notice of us; even if I am not involved as an actor on a project, there’s so much interest we have seen in the market for us, so I think that is something that I take as a very good achievement.

How do you think the film business has changed in the last two decades and what has been the one major point which has been the evolution of Hindi cinema not only in India but also worldwide?

I’ll be very honest with you, before I started acting, I wasn’t very ardent movie watcher and I wasn’t really following films but my brother was. I wasn’t into films but more into playing sports and all of that. But I can speak for the last 10 years that I have been here. I do think that the Industry has definitely come a long way and it really is reflective of society; we kind of make stories for the society and when the society evolves, then our films, stories, roles and all of that evolves.  And I think somewhere the representation of female actors in terms of the roles that we do and the characters that we do, I think that’s becoming stronger. Slowly, slowly I think people are observing the viability that the female actors have to offer to a project and I think those are positive signs if I’m talking about it in a personal level. But even otherwise, the stories that we are telling as a whole are so different and unique at the same time we are able to make films which are formulated entertainers. At the same time strong, content driven films, social films are also doing like huge amount of business. So I think it’s a great place to be in where there is something for everybody. Industry right now is creating diverse options for the audiences because our audience is so diverse. India is a diverse country and that reflects in our industry also today.   We are making films for all kinds of people and all are doing well in their own way. So I believe it’s a great time and there is a huge opportunity for everybody and I think it’s an exciting time and it was an exciting time when I entered and it only keeps getting better and better.

This December you will compete a decade in the industry and incidentally, you are paired opposite Shah Rukh Khan once again with whom you made your debut all those years ago. How has your relationship changed in these years working with the superstar that is SRK?

I didn’t actually even realize till you said this. I think it’s beautiful that the 10 years that I’ve completed in the industry, I am doing a film with the same actor with whom I started my career with. I think it’s great and I have always had a great amount of respect for his dedication towards his work and commitment towards his work. I think work is all that consumes him and he is driven by that. He is somebody who will want to continue to act till his last breath and I see that in him. And for me I think he has been very kind to me, very supportive, and these things have not changed, in fact it’s only become better. I have become more comfortable talking to him may be I wasn’t comfortable or easy because there was too much star SRK thing and even though I would land up doing a film with him; it was so much to take for me.  But now I think I am more settled and I have gained experience, I’ve gained the friendship and I think that is something I value and dedication like I said, it continues to astonish me at times and it’s been amazing.

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