Posted: 10 January 2009 at 6:37pm | IP Logged
From Bangalore to Bollywood
Anushka Sharma tells Rajiv Vijayakar that the role she played in 'Rab Ne...' bears a close resemblance to who she is in real life.
She gushes when I ask her if she's set to grab all the Newbie awards this year. She is incredulous when I tell her that her performance in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi belied a screen debut and seemed to show an actor who was ten films old. "Really?" she asks, wide-eyed. "Thanks so much for saying that!" Welcome, lady, but we mean it too.
She's wearing the same tracksuit for the media interviews at the Yash Raj Studios that she wore in the film. And she tells you that she's a lot like her character. But we have a grouse — she refuses to part even with her email, saying "The only way to get in touch with me is through them (YRF)." But her flight has taken off and one day, not far away, she will be a free bird. Meet Anushka Sharma, the uncommon beauty to whom the common man Shah Rukh Khan aka Surinder Sahni lost her heart in Rab Na Bana Di Jodi.
Excerpts from an interview:
Where did you spring from? You were the surprise packet of the film. When you signed the film, the buzz was that you were a Delhi girl.
I am a Punjabi, but from the time I was a very young girl, I have lived in Bangalore. I shifted to Mumbai a little over a year back as I was into modelling. Adi (director-writer and co-producer Aditya Chopra) saw my pictures and liked me.
But was acting on your agenda, and even if it was, did you ever imagine such a dream break?
Though acting was not on my agenda as I come from a non-film family and my dad Colonel A K Sharma is in the armed forces, I had my options open. I had a few fixed principles, but I saw no reason why I should not take up the offer because it was a dream beginning for an actress. My parents supported me because the banner and the people behind it were reputed and my co-star was Shah Rukh Khan, though they naturally may have had apprehensions about a film career earlier.
But modelling can be done only up to a point. Had you not thought of that?
Honestly, that thought or any thought about stagnating had never crossed my mind. But I needed also to get the hang of making decisions about accepting or refusing something.
Were you selected just for your looks or was an audition done?
Of course I auditioned. That was the sequence where Shah Rukh Khan's character meets me for the first time at my wedding and my screen father introduces us. But what Adi did not reveal was that it was a sequence that was to actually be a part of the film. Even my pictures went as per protocol — after the agency they went to the assistant director whom I met before Adi saw my photographs and met me.
Though a Punjabi, you have virtually lived all your life in Bangalore. How did you manage the authentic Punjabi characterisation?
Shah Rukh Khan says that in most cases, a new face is signed because he or she is closest to the character as envisioned by the director, and that's how things fall into place. I think I agree with his view. Though I have never even been to interior Punjab or Amritsar and have not interacted much with people who live there, I am definitely a lot like Taani — I am very talkative, upfront about saying what is in my mind and have similar values. So I enjoyed performing Taani's role.
You said in print that Adi is like a teacher to you. Sorry for a clich that you will answer a million times now, but how was it working with SRK and what did he contribute to Anushka's essay of Taani?
Oh, he 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 also help in technical angles like giving the cues about where I should finally come and stand even while I was delivering lines that needed the right vocal and facial expressions, which is technically called giving focus marks.
Unlike the hype that surrounds most newcomers, you were the 'band mutthi' — the highly-guarded secret. And now you are suddenly into the media glare and a full-on promotional blitz.
I am happy that it happened that way. 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 know only after the film releases.
Post "Rab Ne..."'s release, what is the scenario about offers?
There have been offers coming in, and though I have 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 you are ambitious now?
Oh, I have always been ambitious!
And do you wish that you had known that acting skills lay hidden within you?
(With a wide-eyed laugh) Yeah, I do! I would have probably begun two years earlier. But then, this was a dream break, so there are no complaints! Do you know that I actually had done an acting workshop during a lull in my modelling phase but I am a person who can't sit idle and do nothing. But what you learn on the sets with a real camera and deliver 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.
Finally what has your family to say about your work?
They are very happy. My brother, who is in the Merchant Navy said with amusement, "Not bad, yaar! You can act!"
And what was the best compliment you got from anyone?
Well, that was the unsaid part of the compliment my father gave me — while watching me in the film he had tears in his eyes and that made me feel really happy that I could give this moment of pride to him!