Movies

The girl with a plan

SHINING BRIGHT Anushka Sharma

SHINING BRIGHT Anushka Sharma  

ANUJ KUMAR tries to find Anushka Sharma in Aarfa and Alizeh

In the winter of 2008 when Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi made it to theatres many found the subject out of sync with the times but none could ignore the presence of a young, vivacious actor who stood her ground in front of a star, who in a kind of double role, left little space for her to manoeuvre public’s attention. However, Anushka Sharma made us believe in a character who made unbelievable choices and almost matched Shah Rukh Khan’s enviable energy step by step. In the year of Ghajini, Anushka made a memorable debut. Though most popular awards picked Asin as the best debutante of 2008, eight years later it is Anushka who is shining bright on Bollywood marquee. Over the years, she proved that the first film was not a fluke and that a female actor can demand equal space in a star vehicle. Be it PK or Sultan, Anushkadoesn’t shine in the reflected glory of Aamir or Salman. “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi didn’t turn me into an overnight star but it did pave way for strong roles for me, starting with Band Baaja Aur Baaraat. I believe what happens in the beginning of your career defines the rest of your career. I realised very early on that content and good roles will define my success. I only do films where I have something to contribute,” says Anushka satisfied with her report card of 2016, where both critical acclaim and box office success came her way.

Negotiating the mainstream space is not easy for an actress. Often you have to show up in big budget tetpoles just to be noticed. “I feel like if you are honest with people, they are very respecting. I was very honest from the beginning. If I didn’t want to do any film, I didn’t make excuses like I don’t have dates, etc. I was always very upfront in saying that I don’t have much to add in this movie and so I won’t like to do it. I didn’t sign projects which sounded correct on paper. And it is my belief in good stories that is what paying me today.”

This year she has played two contrasting young girls who happen to be muslim. “Aarfa is a muslim character but she is not a conservative character in anyway. Her father encourages her do wrestling and that reflects the progressive nature of the space. You pick characters according to your understanding of life and I am a very free thinking person. My roles will always be a testament to that. The diversity of playing a de-glam Aarfa and a city girl Alizeh gives me a feeling of satisfaction.”

When Aarfa was criticised in social media for embracing matrimony and motherhood over career, Anushka came in her support by citing the example of tennis player Victoria Azarenka. “We can’t put these characters in isolation. We cannot put a progressive thought in isolation. If Aarfa is forced to do it, it would have been a different but the fact that she chooses it makes it different. It is not that she stops wrestling to get married. As an actor I understand a character’s perspective completely so I always backed and supported Aarfa. It is not that I had to clarify but I wanted to put my opinion out there,” reflects Anushka.

It is not a straight line as in Alizeh’s case she goes back to a boy who cheats on her. “I probably won’t do that but you have to understand the character’s point of view and don’t force your opinion on it strongly,” reasons Anushka.

Some critics feel that after the initial burst of energy, Anushka plays her characters with clinical efficiency. “I play naturally. I am not a trained actor. I don’t understand the technicality of acting. In fact, Shah Rukh would tell me that don’t be so real also. Like try to understand where the camera is and I actually don’t get it. I play my characters in the most natural way possible and no two characters are the same. Aarfa speaks Haryanvi, Alizeh converses in Urdu. (And for her next she is learning Gujarati accent) As for the rawness, life’s experiences get better, your confidence in front of the camera gets better. The only way actors can look versatile is by playing different roles and that is what I am trying out.”

All these years, Anushka has played characters who are in control of their lives for the most part. We have yet to see her in a soft, tender, confused avatar. Anushka promises it is going to change next year. “In Imitaz’s (Ali) The Ring, the girl is bit of a scatter brain.” It seems she has avoided such roles because she is not like that in real life. “I am not like Aarfa either. You don’t know who you are. As an actor you make an adjustment between what you know about yourself and the traits of the characters that you are going to play. Sometimes the adjustments are little more, sometimes they are little less, but there are always adjustments.”

Before that Anushka will return with her second production Phillauri. “It is more accessible and commercial than NH 10. It is a romanticstory where people will see me in a different way.” Anushka is best placed to talk about the changing definitions of romance as she has just worked with Karan Johar and is now working with Imtiaz Ali. “See if love is about options, it is not love. Love is not about your best option. Love is about falling to someone who helps you grow as a person. For me, personally, it is a very deep emotion that could not be fleeting or frivolous. It can change you in ways that surprise you. It helps you realise your strength as a person. Both Imtiaz and Karan show it in different way. The actors can only bring their personal experience only if they fit the film but they can’t bring their own ideas into the story,” says Anushka adding that the longing aspect of love will reflect in Phillauri.

As for the awards, Anushka says the fact that she got to play Alizeh and Aarfa in one year is a very rewarding feeling in itself. “If they come, it feels good but if they don’t that is not going to change my course of action in any way.”

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Printable version | Mar 24, 2020 5:30:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/The-girl-with-a-plan/article16705544.ece

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