"I didn't want to get typecast as an actor so I kept TV away."

Says Anisa, who played Shyla in Disney’s Ishaan talks about her big crossover to films and what she is doing right to be in Bollywood.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | 12:25:38 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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You will remember Anisa as Shyla from Disney Channel's Ishaan. After that she was seen in MTV Rush directed by Bejoy Nambiar along with cameo in films like Jhootha Hi Sahi, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. 

Her latest film as a lead, Baat Bann Gayi, didn't get great response but now she has her eyes set on her next release Ikka Top opposite Manjot Singh of Fukrey fame where she plays a Goan girl Rachel. The pretty young thing talks about her crossover to films in such a short span of time and why she wants to keep away from television.

How did you get Ikka Top?

The director Faizan Kareem saw an ad audition of mine and gave me a narration of the film. I really liked the script a lot since it has the thrill element, drama, romance and comedy. I thought it would be great experience to do it. We will be completing the shoot by January 2014 and I think it will release either just before or just after the IPL.

Are you disappointed with Baat Bann Gayi not doing well at the box office?

I just think the release of the film was timed badly because everyone went to watch Gravity, which released at the same time. But whoever saw the film liked it and had good things to say about my performance and the music, so it was nice. Now I hope Ikka Top will be promoted well because these days it all depends on promotion of the film.

Your debut show Ishaan was very popular. Why didn't you do more shows after that?

After doing theatre in the UK, I wasn't interested in television in India at all. I moved here only to do films or theatre. But I took Ishaan because it was like High School Musical, by Red Chillies Entertainment, and Iqbal Rizvi is a great director so I thought I'd get good experience for on-screen work. After Ishaan I did MTV Rush because I really like Bejoy Nambiar as a director, the show was very experimental and a shorter stint. I was being offered only long term projects on TV after that and doing the same thing every single day for years would have overexposed me as an actor. I didn't want to get typecast as an actor so I kept TV away.

Was it difficult to make the crossover to films after Ishaan?

It wasn't difficult for me at all because Ishaan was such a big show. Then I got a call from Excel Entertainment for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and I initially auditioned for Kalki Koechlin's role because they wanted a newcomer to play Natasha. But they decided to get an established name instead and I lost out on the role. They offered me the cameo role of Kalki's sister Tanya but I wasn't interested because doing a small role can typecast you. But then I had a meeting with Zoya Akhtar who persuaded me to do the role since the film had so many good actors and the production house was great so it would have been good work experience for me. After that Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, Baat Bann Gayi and now Ikka Top have followed.

You've been in the industry only since 2010 and already have a handful of films to your credit - a feat not many television actresses have managed. What are you doing right to be in this space?

It is very tough to get a break here and then to survive. Many girls come here to do just films but circumstances make them take up television to survive and then they unfortunately get stuck. But I never had the pressure of survival to begin with. I've also been very strong-headed that I don't want to do television; it is a great, great medium but it can be very restrictive because you are stuck with just one character for years on end. So whatever offer I get, if it's a long term commitment I just say no.

Are you ruling television out completely?

No, I'm not ruling it out totally. But I do think writing in Indian television needs to improve big time. The shows here are targeted only at small towns or rural audience so if a day ever comes when we make shows like the US that will be targeted at the youth and city slickers and if there are shorter seasons with fewer episodes then I will take something up for sure. 

Dhaval Roy
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