Posted: 09 January 2009 at 1:31pm | IP Logged
Anushka Sharma: Newbie from Bengalooru
By R.M. VIJAYAKAR
indiawest.com January 08, 2009 03:51:00 PM
MUMBAI — She looks set to grab all the newbie awards this year. Anushka Sharma is incredulous when I tell her that her performance in "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" was as skilled and smooth as someone who has done 10 films already. "Really?" she asks, wide-eyed. "Thanks so much for saying that!" But we mean it, girl.
Attired in one of the tracksuits she wore in her debut film's dance competition sequences, she tells you that she's a lot like her character. "Shah Rukh Khan says that in most cases, a new face is signed because he or she is closest to the character, and I think I agree with his view," Sharma told India-West in an exclusive interview at Yash Raj Studios.
"Though I have never even been to Amritsar or to the interiors of Punjab and have never interacted much with people who come from there, I am definitely a lot like Taani — I am very talkative, upfront about saying what is on my mind and have similar values. So I enjoyed performing Taani's role," says the Punjabi maiden who's spent almost her entire life in Bengalooru, earlier known as Bangalore.
"We went to live there when I was about three years old," says the actress, who's prone to quick smiles and wide-eyed looks. "Dad's in the armed forces — his name is Col. A.K. Sharma. And I have an elder brother who is in the Merchant Navy." And mommy and Anushka complete the family drill.
Anushka came to Mumbai when she began to do modeling a bit over year ago. Films were never on the agenda, and she is sure that her parents would have had apprehensions if they had been. But her pictures were seen by Aditya Chopra, writer-director and co-producer of the film, and she was summoned. "Everything went by protocol," she said. "First I had to meet the AD. When he was satisfied, Adi came in. I auditioned for the scene where Shah Rukh and I meet for the first time at my wedding. But Adi did not tell me that it was an actual sequence from the film that he was making. And when my parents saw that it was a reputed banner and a co-star like Shah Rukh they had no objections at all and were supportive of my decision to do the film."
Though Anushka had never thought of a career in films, she had paradoxically done an acting workshop during a lull in her modeling phase. "That was only because I can never sit doing nothing!" she chirps. "But what you learn on the sets with a real camera and when delivering lines that you haven't learnt by heart before is something else altogether. For me, 'Rab Ne…' was like going into the Standard One of acting."
How then did she pack such a solid punch? The sprightly Sharma tells you that a lot of the credit goes to "teacher" Adi — and SRK himself.
"Adi knows exactly how to take the best out of us," says the new Miss Congeniality on the block. "He would never say that any scene had to be done exactly in this or that way or by imitating him. He would give me a scene and let me interpret it my way. We would discuss important scenes for a good while as he would take me through them. He gave me the space and the freedom that gave me an understanding of the script and my character completely. That made me very confident and I wanted to make my own contributions to Taani — more importantly, that's why I could do it."
She goes on, "And Shah Rukh (note the welcome absence of the film norm "ji") helped me so much! So-o much! People have been saying that I came across as very confident in my debut, but a large chunk of that was because Shah Rukh accommodated me so much. He was so selfless that he never ever thought of taking away any scene, camera angle or importance away from me! I ended up really enjoying myself. He would, for example, help me in technical angles like giving the cues about where I should finally come and stand for the camera even while I was concentrating on the right vocal and facial expressions, which is technically called giving focus marks."
Anushka is happy with the YRF strategy of keeping her under wraps till after the film was released, instead of hyping the newcomer the way they had done in the past with so many. "I am happy that it happened that way and I am very convinced that this was the right method. Since I am an actor, the most important part is about how good or bad I am in my work, which you come to know only after the film releases," she says.
Offers have obviously been coming in, and though Anushka has a three-film contract with Yash Raj Films, it is not exclusive. "Adi will let me do any outside film that will further my career prospects but I will consult him on the outside offers and then I will make the best decision. Meanwhile I have to try and better my acting, my dancing and my diction."
So she is ambitious now? And does she wish that she knew that an actress lurked within? "Oh, I have always been ambitious! And yeah, I do wish that I had known I had this gift. I would have probably started out two years earlier! (Laughs) But then, this was a dream break, so there are no complaints!"
And what does her family have to say about your work? "They are very happy. My brother, said with amusement, 'Not bad, yaar! You can act!'"
But what Anushka cannot forget is her father having tears in his eyes while watching her film — tears of pride. "It made me feel really happy that I could give this moment to him!" she says proudly.