Newcomer Anjali Patil is on a roll. She recently won the best actor (Female) award at the International Film Festival of India in Goa. She talks about making her mark in the industry. Anjali plays the lead in the Malayalam film Ente, which releases in January

When most actors require time to make a name for themselves in the film industry, Anjali Patil has already made it with “a bit of luck and a lot of hard work.”

This 24-year-old actor from Nasik, Maharasthra, is only one year into the industry, four films old, and has already won the Best Actor (Female) award for her performance in Prasanna Vithanage’s Sinhala-Tamil movie, With You Without You, at the just concluded International Film Festival of India, Goa.

According to Anjali, her role and the way she has emoted in With You Without You, are quite similar to her work in Rajesh Touchriver’s Ente. She says she has used her eyes and face to express a gamut of expressions.

If With You Without You had the actor playing Selvi, a person who has lost her family, home, ability to emote…, Ente had Anjali playing Durga, a woman who is betrayed by those close to her and gets caught in a sex trafficking racket.

Says Anjali: “Both roles are near and dear to me. The audience knows Selvi has gone through hell through her expressions and gestures. Likewise, Durga’s battle with herself and those around her were portrayed in the same way. Playing Durga was extra challenging as she is based on a real life character and I had to do justice to her and to her story as an artiste. I had to make sure my expressions were not overboard.”

An alumna of Centre of Performing Art, University of Pune, and National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi, Anjali’s route to the big screen started from theatre.

“I am a great escapist. Theatre, that way, is perfect for me as I can explore new places and meet new people. And, although, I did not pursue my childhood ambition to become a doctor, I am a doctor of human relationship and psychology as I delve into the minds of the characters I enact.”

Her entry into films, she says, was ‘filmy’. She was walking down the corridors of NSD when she bumped into Prashant Nair who invited her to audition for a role in his film Delhi In A Day. “I was reluctant as I was a student of direction but he convinced me to give it a shot.”

It was rave reviews for her performance in Delhi In A Day that made her pack her bags and move to Mumbai. “I was convinced that cinema was where I was meant to be when my first film’s director of photography said ‘There's only one person who loves you truly and that is the camera’. This line was my ‘trigger point’. I am still exploring how much the camera loves me and how much I can explore this medium.”

The actor has signed a three-film contract with Prakash Jha and a movie with the filmmaker – Chakravyuh – has got good reviews. “Prakash sir’s focus on his work is similar to mine. Both of us disregard even hunger pangs while at work.”

Delving into the script

The actor says she has been lucky in receiving varied roles. For her, the script is her Bible.

“I read the script several times to go deep into the character. I try to find characteristics which are not ‘Anjali’ and work on that. Durga Ente and I are quite similar in the sense that both of us react against injustice. Once when travelling on a late night bus from Pune to Nasik, a co-passenger touched me. That touch remains like a knife pierced in my heart and that emotion is what I tried to portray in a scene in Ente that shows Durga being sexually abused.”

The actor who enjoys music and is a film buff is currently working on a Girish Karnad film and a couple of Hindi films. She is also keeping her fingers crossed for some international projects.

A true story

Ente is based on a true story, says filmmaker Rajesh Touchriver. “It was a story narrated by my wife, Sunita Krishnan, who runs Prajwala, an organisation that helps victims of sexual assault. It is based on a father-daughter she encountered during her work. Ente is a poignant film about the girl and her father as they grapple with the often ignored problem of sex trafficking. It is neither a sordid tale, nor is it a skin show,” he says. Siddique plays the role of the father and Anjali that of the daughter. It is a suspense thriller. The movie has been simultaneously shot in Telugu (Prathyayam).