Anushka Sharma on her repertoire of films, which includes Imtiaz Ali’s next, being the ‘youngest film producer’ and why love can never be perfect
Roshmilla Bhattacharya (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 22, 2017)

It’s been nine years since you first worked with Shah Rukh Khan, in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Tell us one thing about him that has changed?
Well, usually people vary in their attitude towards you based on where you are in life. Sometimes they are nicer to you when you are more successful but Shah Rukh has been consistent since the beginning and that shows his goodness as a human being. Right from our first film together, he made me feel important, has been helpful as a co-star and a very giving actor. And the beauty of it is that he hasn’t changed with time like a lot of people do these days.

Do you see any change in Anushka today from that girl nine years ago?
I guess. You always see growth in yourself as an actor, as a human being, which according to me, is equally important, if not more. It’s important to keep growing and evolving into someone better as that reflects in your craft. I’m more confident today and feel the choices I’ve made were brave because of some kind of inner strength I was building up inside me for many years. I did not plan on becoming an actor since I was not from the film industry. So, I value this journey a lot as it has made me the person I am today.

You’ve been doing a lot of travelling. Have you met any tourist guides who made an impression?
I’ve never been on a trip like Sejal in Jab Harry Met Sejal. My father was in the army. I didn’t come from an affluent family so we couldn’t afford international trips. Whatever travelling I’ve done has been after I started working. I enjoy it as it’s a way of seeing the world and meeting different people. But I stay away from touristy places. What excites me is observing people in their day-to-day lives and learning about their culture. That adds to my database as an actor.

Is there an Imtiaz Ali film that is your favourite?
Jab We Met, I watched it in a place called Nal in Rajasthan where my father was posted. It was an old single screen theatre, with plastic chairs and more cine-goers than seats; not the best environment. Still, I was completely entranced by it. I was at that age when I was observing things a lot more. I thought Kareena Kapoor’s character was really well-etched out and she did a brilliant job. I was modelling by then and that was the first time I thought of becoming an actor. The film has a special place in my heart because it elicited this feeling in me, thanks to a great portrayal of a female character by a director.

Imtiaz’s take on love involves a lot of soul-searching. How would you define love? What’s an ideal relationship according to you?
Imtiaz’s portrayal of characters and their love stories is real and relatable. They aren’t romantic in a clichéd way. To me, love is something that helps you grow; the presence of someone else makes you a better person. In Imtiaz’s film too you see the characters become more complete from being with each other and accepting each other’s flaws. Love is not perfect, people are not perfect in relationships, we are God’s creatures; he accepts and embraces that in his film.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was about love and friendship. We know lovers can be friends but can friends be lovers?
The kind of person I am, I feel boundaries should be set. It’s not difficult to do that if that’s what two people decide. I have a lot of guy friends with whom there can never be anything romantic. Yes, sometimes one person might start to develop feelings. But given the kind of environment I grew up in and the people I have come to know, it’s possible to be just friends. It’s unnatural for me to think that the romance is the only way for two people to be associated with each other.

In Sultan you played a girl who gives up her ultimate goal—participating in the Olympics—for love.
I don’t think that’s true. My character did not give up her goal for marriage or a relationship. She was with child and decides to give birth to it because the alternative was not acceptable to her. That was the choice she made and she goes back to wrestling in the film.

Do you ever see yourself doing that?
What is the point of this question? Why is it even being asked? Strangely, only a girl is asked these questions which I think is extremely sexist. Why is that even an option? Why should anyone think that just because you are in a relationship you have to give up your career? If people need to ask it, there’s a primary problem. I don’t see myself ever not working. I have never thought of the alternative because I have been working since the age of 15. I can’t suddenly stop working and then do what? I don’t know anything else other than work. When kids were going to school and doing regular things, I was working. It’s offensive to me if someone asks that question. This is not directed at you because I understand you are asking it as people are asking but they shouldn’t. I don’t see them asking male actors this question. Only women are put through this and it’s demeaning that I even have to answer a question like this.

You are one of the youngest female producers in the country and have gone from playing a ghost to a pari. What is your cinematic vision?
It is to tell interesting stories from unchartered spaces and give people a different experience. That’s all I can do as a producer. We make films that we believe in. That’s what we have done with the last two and now, with Pari, I’m happy the first poster has intrigued people.

This could be another sexist question but how difficult has it been for you as a producer in this male-dominated industry?
I think because of the credibility I’ve had as an actor and the work I’ve done, it was easy. I used the timing and whatever stardom I have to make relevant films that I thought I should be backing. I have enjoyed it and right now I want to focus on the positives. Maybe one day, when I have done this for a long time, I can sit and talk about the hardships, but right now I cannot ignore the fact that I was able to produce a film at 25 as a female actor. It makes me proud and I want to applaud myself for it and not think of the negativity attached to it. It’s something to feel good about.

Can you give us some clarity on Kaneda since director Navdeep Singh has moved on to a new project?
Right now the film we are shooting and producing is Pari. Kaneda is something that will happen soon but not right now. Navdeep was anyway supposed to be doing the other film while we are working on Pari. It was part of the scheduling. There is no need to look for gossip here. I want to clarify because people put two and two together for no reason. The film will be made and Navdeep will make it.

Aanand L Rai’s film brings Katrina Kaif, SRK and you together. Any memories of Jab Tak Hai Jaan?
I’ll start that after I’ve wrapped up Pari. I’m looking forward to it because I really enjoyed working with both although I don’t have scenes with Katrina in the film. But as a co-actor I respect her hard work and value what she has done. With Shah Rukh this will be my fourth film, the maximum I have worked with any actor. I have a great professional relationship with him and Aanand L Rai is a director I have always appreciated.

And Sui Dhaaga, the film with Varun Dhawan?
That will happen later but it will be interesting to work with Sharat Katariya. He’s a director I’ve wanted to work with. For me the director is most important because he’s responsible for the endproduct. I’ve got to work with some of the best directors in the country. That continues as I’ve always gone after them.

Everyone’s talking of the women’s cricket team which has entered the ICC World Cup finals. Keeping track?
It’s phenomenal. I wish the best to the team. I am supporting them.

Do you watch a lot of cricket, understand it better now…
I think we will have to end this. If there are any other questions related to When Harry Met Sejal I’d love to answer them.