Anushka Sharma is easily among the most talented actresses today. In this interview with Bollywood Hungama’s Nikhil Ramsubramaniam she talks about how she bagged Jab Tak Hai Jaan, sheds light on her character Akira and reveals the similarities between the father-and-son duo of Yash and Aditya Chopra…
You have the rare honour of being the only actress to have been directed by both [the late] Yash Chopra and his son Aditya Chopra. How does it make you feel?
I feel very special that I had the chance to work with them. Adi was my first director and will always be special. As for Yashji, what can I say, actresses would die to work in a Yash Chopra-directed film. He could have taken any actress, yet he thought of me, which is something I’ll always be grateful for.
Having worked with father and son, what similarities or differences do you see in their styles of direction?
Yashji made these eternal love stories about relationships, whereas Adi makes stories about principles, correctness and goodness.
That apart, Yashji was much quicker and shot much faster. He just asked for one or two takes. I remember we used to have 12-hour schedules in Kashmir and Ladakh, but we would end up finishing in seven hours and then would be free for the rest of the day. Adi still sometimes asks for that one extra take, while Yashji always believed an actor gives his best take in the first or second attempt.
And what about as people, how would you compare them?
Yashji was younger, cooler and funnier. He truly epitomised that age is just in your mind. He was so progressive in his thought process. He had a tremendous sense of humour and had us in fits during the shoot of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. He was fitter than most young people on set. Hence it really was shocking when we learnt of his death. He took things very lightly and was always relaxed and chilled out.
Adi is my first director so he is very special to me. He is very correct, principled and transparent as a person.
What was your first reaction when you were told you’d be working on Yashji’s film?
Adi first told me about it. I was very happy and excited, but at the same time I also got a bit emotional. I’d never imagined I would be directed by a legend like Yash Chopra. Every actor has a wish-list of directors they’d like to work with and Yashji’s name was right at the top of mine. So it was like my dream came true. If any other actress had bagged this role, I would have been gutted.
Tell us about your character, Akira?
Akira is a new character compared to Yashji’s other heroines, most of whom have believed in love more than anything else. In that sense, Akira is an anti-Yash Chopra heroine. She is just 21 years old and a documentary film maker. She is very ambitious, but too practical and a tad cynical about love. She feels it can get in the way of her achieving success and realising her dreams.
After debuting opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, what was it like to re-unite with him for this film?
Shah Rukh hasn’t changed one bit. He is still the most lovable guy and remains my favourite co-star. He is a complete team player and the most selfless actor: frank, honest and great fun to be around.
With Katrina also being a Yash Raj Films’ favourite, were you at any time worried about her hogging the limelight?
No, not at all. Yashji’s films have always been a kind of triangle of sorts, about the relationship between three principal characters and how they are interlinked. So that concern didn’t even cross my mind. That’s been the nature of all of Yashji’s films. His roles are all equal with no real discrimination.
With AR Rahman and Gulzar part of the musical team, the music is one of the highlights of the film. Tell us about your personal favourites from the album?
I like Jab Tak Hai Jaan, the title track a lot, it’s really beautiful. Then I like my song, Jiya Re, and also Challa.
You did some crazy adventure sports such as river-rafting and river crossings while filming Jiya Re. Tell us more.
I had to be physically fit. Akira is a very adventurous documentary film-maker who is constantly on the move travelling to places like Ladakh and Kashmir. I did rapid river crossing, river rafting, etc.
When you look at the promos, it all seems very easy and I am smiling, but trust me, it was quite a task. My ribs and stomach hurt for almost a month after that. I also got to be part of the action sequences in the film.
What are your forthcoming projects?
My next film is Vishal Bhardwaj’s Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola with Imran Khan which releases on January 11. I start shooting for Raj Kumar Hirani’s PK with Aamir next month and then there is Bombay Velvet with Anurag Kashyap. – bollywoodhungama.com