If there’s one quality that defines Anushka Sharma, it’s clarity. The actress says she uses her instinct to choose her roles and has no doubts about what she wants and doesn’t want – from modeling to acting and producing.
Sharma, who had two big hits last year (“Sultan” and “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”), stars opposite Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan in her next film, the romantic comedy “Jab Harry Met Sejal”. She spoke to Reuters about her latest release, why she doesn’t doubt her decisions and what she learned from producing films.
Q: You declined Imtiaz Ali when he offered you “Tamasha” because you thought the role wasn’t strong enough…
A: (Interrupts) I am not commenting on that at all. I haven’t said anything like that. I have never made a comment on “Tamasha.” I don’t talk about films that I am not part of.
Q: Was Sejal (from “Jab Harry Met Sejal”) a strong-enough role for you?
A: If we answer this question with the reference of the other thing you asked me, it is not fair, so I am not going to talk about that. I don’t talk about the films I don’t do. I don’t like it when actors do that either – when they are not doing a film and they want everyone to know they are not doing it. I think it’s disrespectful to the person who offered the film to you and to the person who is doing it. You are not better because you aren’t doing a film.
For me, I react to films purely on instinct. And at different times in your life, you want to do things for different reasons. When I heard the script of this (“Jab Harry met Sejal”) film, I was totally drawn to it and I loved the character of the girl. I have never played someone with a comic touch. I have always played girls who are very self-assured and know what they are doing and Sejal is anything but that. She is lost and her introduction in the trailer is of a girl who needs guidance. That was what’s exciting and that is why I decided to do the film.
Q: Do you ever have a smidgen of self-doubt when you decide to say ‘no’ to a film, especially when it is directed by an acclaimed director?
A: No, because there is a lot of clarity in me about why I decided to say no to a film. There was never a doubt in my head that I wanted to work with Imtiaz. I wanted to work with him for the longest time. He is a director whose work I have loved and is somebody who has had a huge impact in my life; because when I watched his first film, that was the first time I thought of wanting to act some day.
Q: Is there any aspect of your career where you let self-doubt creep in sometimes?
A: Self-doubt constantly travels with you. That doubt is good because it helps you keep things in check and keep pushing forward and working hard. I’ll never feel complacent or happy with the things I do. I never have. But I don’t let that become so negative that it ends up troubling me or harming me in any way. I become observant of these things. I become observant of the negative emotions in my life. I don’t ride them.
Of course I have my ups and downs but the difference is that the self-doubt doesn’t change my course of action. I am on one path. These things (self-doubt, negativity) keep coming up, but I keep moving forward. I am not someone who is going to have self-doubt and lose my cool, become hyper, insecure, angry, aggressive and say “Ab main ye karoongi, ab main ye nahi karoongi” (I will do this, or I won’t do that) and lose track of what I want. Or that I end up looking at what other people are doing… which people do sometimes. And it doesn’t help you in any way.
Q: Is that a personality trait or is that something you have developed over the years?
A: It is a personality trait. It’s always been like that. Even when I was modeling, I knew what kind of ads I didn’t want to do. Like I didn’t want to do ‘montage-y’ ads or ads where there were too many people. When I got my first film, Aditya Chopra told me, “If you had been one of those models who was in a lot of ads, I wouldn’t have taken you for the film.” Somehow, and I don’t know how, but I knew that I didn’t want to do many ads.
Q: Can anyone’s opinion change your course of action?
A: My brother is the only one I discuss movies with, but we are mostly on the same page. It is very rare that we have disagreed on movies, and that is why we work so well.
Q: You’ve produced three films till now. What have you learnt as a producer?
A: Things that you learn, you put in your next film. Maybe I can talk about it in my biography. It’s all so new and there is growth with each day. The stuff that I have learned producing one film is equivalent to five films that I have shot as an actor.
Each film comes with its own sets of issues. It makes you calmer, more patient, more resilient to setbacks and changing circumstances. That is what I have learnt the most as a producer.
Q: You have said that you took to producing because you wanted the freedom to make stories that you wanted to tell. Are the setbacks worth that freedom?
A: Sometimes you feel like it isn’t. It is so nice when you are part of a film like this one (which she is not producing). As a producer, it is very challenging and you are tested a lot more. You have your own tests as an actor, but here, the stakes are higher. You are far more responsible for the film. But I am happy… when I see that we are encouraging and promoting new talent, it gives me a lot of satisfaction. I feel like a bigger part of movies, more connected to the movies because of that. And I feel like my time is consumed in the best way possible. It is very difficult at times and you feel like, “Why aren’t I doing what everyone else is doing?” But I am happy that me becoming a producer has encouraged many other actresses to do it too.