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ANUSHKA SHARMA WINNER 2012
FSJ December, 2012

ANUSHKA SHARMA WINNER 2012

She talks at supersonic speed and uses the word ‘like’ as a punctuation mark.She is ballsy on screen, certainly no pushover.

But the real Anushka Sharma can be brusque and not quite the bubbly, perky, effervescent young woman you’d imagine her to be.

“I AM TALKATIVE ONLY WITH PEOPLE I AM CLOSE TO. OTHERWISE I AM VERY AWKWARD IN SOCIAL SCENARIOS, VERY, VERY, AWKWARD!”

“I am not really like that,” she agrees. “I am talkative only with people I am close to. Otherwise I am very awkward in social scenarios, very, very, awkward.

“I am not a pushover,” she is sure of that. “But sometimes when I talk a lot it’s because I am nervous. Otherwise I think I am a quiet person.”

She even has stage fright. “The fright is always there, but it doesn’t show,” she smiles at her smart camouflage. “And I don’t like speaking on stage. I’ve tried it but I just don’t like hosting a show on stage. I am fine with dancing though, and I like it, I enjoy it.”

Right now she’s enjoying every bit of her life and that you can glean from the glow on her makeup and jewellery-free face.

She is clearly the winner of 2012 who has arrived without trumpets (and to great reviews) in Jab Tak Hai Jaan, her fifth Yash Raj film – a film that will forever feature as legendary Yash Chopra’s last signature romance.

There is clearly no stage fright when Anushka comes alive before a moving camera. Aditya Chopra’s famous remark to her that she was not the world’s most beautiful girl actually gave her the direction and conviction to stand up and be counted even when pitted in a Yash Chopra-Shah Rukh Khan film alongside the gorgeous Katrina Kaif.

Anushka analyses, “When Adi told me this (about not being an Aishwarya Rai), it was really not to discourage me. I know this because I asked him about it later on and he said, ‘Did I ever say that you are not good looking? I just said your talent supersedes your looks which is a very huge compliment.’ That made sense to me. I know you need to have a certain amount of good looks to be an actress and I like the way I look.

“KATRINA IS VERY GOOD LOOKING BUT WHY WOULD I GET A COMPLEX STANDING OPPOSITE ANYBODY? WHY SHOULD I JUDGE MY BEAUTY ON THE BASIS OF SOMEBODY ELSE’S BEAUTY?” SOMEBODY ELSE’S BEAUTY?”

“Katrina is very good looking,” she accepts, “but why would I get a complex standing opposite anybody? Why should I judge my beauty on the basis of somebody else’s beauty? I don’t think such a thought even occurred in my mind.”

After having worked with the best in the business, Yash and Aditya Chopra, now Vishal Bhardwaj (Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola), Raju Hirani (P.K.) and Anurag Kashyap (Bombay Velvet), what could Anushka possibly have left on her wish list?

“But there are so many directors I want to work with,” she protests with a happy smile. “I want to work with Dibakar Banerjee, Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Basu, and I want to work with all my directors all over again. So my wish list won’t end.”

“I’M A GREEDY PERSON ONLY WHEN IT COMES TO DIRECTORS. I DON’T HAVE A WISH LIST OF ACTORS I WANT TO WORK WITH!”

Sounding much like her first hero Shah Rukh who was really the first actor to say that he worked only with directors, not heroines, Anushka continues, “I’m a greedy person only when it comes to directors and luckily for me, I got to work with, am working with and will work with very good directors. It just so happens that the hero of every film has also happily turned out to be very good. But I don’t have a wish list of actors I want to work with. I have only a wish list of directors.”

With a cherry on top called Raju Hirani on her list, was signing P.K. the one big high of 2012 for Anushka? “Yes, signing P.K. and working in Yashji’s film were two highpoints of 2012.

“Signing Raju Hirani’s film was definitely a huge high for me. When I signed it, I got the same feeling I had after my first film. I was so excited, I went out and high-fived my driver! And he looked at me wondering what was wrong, madam ko kya ho gaya?” she grins.

“RAJU HIRANI COULD PICK ANYONE AND THEY WOULD JUST DROP EVERYTHING AND COME TO HIM. BUT HE CHOSE ME!”

“P.K. is like a dream project. Raju Hirani has a choice of anybody, he could pick anyone and they would just drop everything and come to him. But he chose me! It’s such a happy feeling, I feel so proud, it’s a really, really good feeling. And I’ve got it so early in my career, I have only had five or six releases. So I am very excited!”
Have you heard the entire script?
“Oh, yes!”
Liked it?

“Oh, oh, yes!”


The heroine in Raju Hirani’s films doesn’t normally have much to do but he did promise us that she would be a substantial character this time. Has he done that?

“I am so happy you said that! I wouldn’t have talked about it till people saw the film but yes, he said to me that this time the female character will be pertinent to the film and it is. And just when he decides to do that, he takes me for the film! I have a great role. I am so excited to work with Aamir Khan and I am absolutely sure Raju Hirani will get the best out of me.”

For this army girl who has seen quite a bit of India, traversing the globe is one of the biggest perks of her profession.

“I love London, I Iove Italy, I love Spain,” she enthuses. “I so want to explore and see the world. The biggest achievements of 2012 for me have been a) Signing Raju Hirani’s film and b) Getting a Schengen visa stamped on my passport!

“I am so happy, so thrilled that I got a Schengen visa, it’s like a passport to anywhere!”
She is equally game to take off to places in India that most would never visit and is willing to rough it out.

“You can’t be like a diva and go, ‘Oh, I can’t do this, I can’t do that,’” she says. “I am an army kid, I was in the NCC and I have stayed in tents.

“I’M NOT FUSSY AT ALL. WHEN I AM GOING TO EAT SOMEWHERE IN A RESTAURANT THEN I LIKE TO EAT WELL. BUT WHEN I AM WORKING, JUST GIVE ME SOME CALORIES!”


“When we were doing Yashji’s film, we were in Pangong lake in Ladakh where we stayed in tents which did not have any heating. It was so cold, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” she shrugs. “I’m not fussy at all. Not fussy about anything. In fact my staff even gets irritated with me when they ask me what I want to eat and I say, ‘Kuch bhi de do.’ When I am going to eat somewhere in a restaurant then I like to eat well. But when I am working, just give me some calories and let’s move on in life!”

That’s just what she has learnt to do even when a film doesn’t set the box-office on fire. Like Ladies Vs Ricky Behl. Was it disheartening?

“I think Ladies was more Ranveer’s film than mine,” she points out. “I was happy that I got the appreciation that I did from the critics. But of course when you are a part of the team, you want it to do well, you always want your films to do well. I did Ladies Vs Ricky Behl because I got a nice break from the Band Baaja Baaraat sort of image. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
What works are those 10 huge ad campaigns that she is a part of. Good money?

“ENDORSEMENTS ARE IMPORTANT BECAUSE THEY GIVE YOU SUPPORT AND STABILITY; YOU CAN THEN CHOOSE TO DO ONLY VERY GOOD FILMS AND ONLY THAT MANY FILMS!”

“Yes,” she is candid, “the money is good but a lot of times I have signed brands because of the creative writing. I don’t talk about the money first. I want to know what they are trying to say, I ask for the creatives. Anything that’s different, anything that’s novel, excites me and I do those brands.  Endorsements are important because they give you some kind of support and stability where you can then choose to do only very good films and only that many films. Another plus point is that your reach becomes wider because everybody watches TV. So for all these reasons, I like doing endorsements. 

“In this one year itself I won three awards as brand ambassador. So I think I am doing fine.”
Coming up close behind her is a new girl who seems to have much in common with Anushka. Another Yash Raj discovery, Parineeti Chopra too, is attractive in an unconventional way, and she also has a vivacious, extroverted image.

“I think she is way more bubbly than me,” says Anushka. “I am not as much, actually not at all.”
Having worked together in Ladies Vs Ricky Behl, Anushka got a glimpse of the new girl’s talent before most other people.

“PARINEETI WAS VERY, VERY LUCKY WITH HER FIRST FILM BECAUSE, HONESTLY, SHE HAD THE BEST ROLE IN THE FILM.  SHE HAD ALL THE PUNCH LINES!”


Did she expect Parineeti to come up like she has?
“I did when I started seeing her at rehearsals and I acted with her. Also, she was very, very lucky with her first film because, honestly, she had the best role in the film.  It was the most well-written one and she had all the punch lines which is so awesome to have in your first film. Ranveer also had that in Band Baaja Baaraat, punch lines and stuff. If you are backed by the writer, it works. And then she did a good job of it too. Even in her second film she had a very good, author-backed role and she has done justice to all the great roles that have been given to her.”

To return to Anushka’s highpoints of 2012, there’s another that most don’t know about – she has bought herself a spacious new apartment that’s being done up right now, with a blueprint to move into it next year.

“I HAVE BEEN  EARNING MY OWN MONEY SINCE I WAS 15 YEARS OLD. TO BE ABLE TO BUY A HOUSE, HAVE A GOOD SPACE THAT YOU CAN LIVE IN WITH YOUR WHOLE FAMILY, MAKES ME FEEL SO VERY PROUD!”

“It’s awesome,” she purrs happily.
Does it feel nice to be earning your own money and doing these things?
“I have been earning my own money since I was 15 years old,” she reminds you. “But I’m very close to my family and to be able to buy a house, have a good space that you can live in with your whole family, makes me feel so very proud. My father was in the army, so my parents always stayed away from each other so much. Now they are living with each other, staying with each other, it gives me great happiness, great joy.”

She took her time to reach the top, despite a great start with Aditya Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008). It took four years but here she is, in peak form in 2012.

“Ranveer or Deepika or Sonakshi or even Parineeti for that matter, just went to another level after their first film. I don’t know how to but ultimately it has been great. I think it was so awesome that I got to do a film with Shah Rukh Khan directed by Aditya Chopra. But what gives me a lot of happiness and makes me feel so good about myself is that the film that made me shine (Band Baaja Baaraat) was made by a first-time director with a first-time actor. It means that I did everything on my capabilities with whatever talent I have. So for me that is a bigger success. It keeps you grounded. Otherwise pehli film ke baad kuch log ud jaate hain. I am happy that it took me time, I value what I have right now.

“I remember after my first film, journalists were writing that she doesn’t have any films. They had no idea that I was being offered so many films. I chose not to do them because they were not giving me anything. They were not taking me anywhere, I was just being Tani in different cities again. There was so much pressure from so many people especially the press. They start making you feel like such a loser if you are not always shining.

“Somehow I did not succumb to that pressure and I waited and waited for the right projects. I kept the faith in me. I was not lured by money. So I would say that yes, of course it was the right opportunity but it was also my conviction about the way I should deal with my career and my life which really helped me.”

Recognition took its time coming to her but it has arrived, literally too. Even without makeup and in her jeans-singlet casual wear, people recognise her when Anushka steps out. Maybe it’s not instant but the penny does drop ultimately.  

“I don’t know how much time it takes but as long as people recognise me, it’s good enough. I don’t care how long it takes,” she states. It sums her up neatly.

– Bharathi S Pradhan

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