Anushka doesn’t need to wear a power suit to exude power. As a young entrepreneur, she is just comfortable in her own skin, meeting producers, actors, script-writers in sneakers and denims.
Unapologetic, confident and comfortable - that’s what Anushka Sharma stands for. When Entrepreneur met her for the cover shoot, unlike other celebs, Anushka came wearing her usual denims, utterly cool about just being herself So, when team Entrepreneur discussed on the styling for her, it was neither a pin-up actress nor the power-struck corporate attire, we decided for funky yet confident self of Anushka Sharma, the person with the brains of a producer and looks and finesse of an actor.
Young, successful, still not happy with where she stood, Anushka went on to change the industry norms. Indian actors usually take on production at the fagend of their career. But, deciding her own rules, she was only 25 when she decided to produce her first film. Born to an Army man, Anushka had a well-rounded upbringing and took to various sports like swimming and horse riding and an open childhood let her to have an evolved attitude towards life.
As every other young girl, she would often stand in front of the mirror wearing her mother’s clothes “I never had any inclination to become an actress,” says Anushka Sharma. But, by the time she was 12, she knew she wanted to be a model. “There was a girl in my colony, who did an advertisement and I saw her pictures in magazines and everyone would look at it. I thought it to be pretty cool and decided that I should also do something like this,” reminisces Anushka.
Anushka started modeling when she was 15 and her first assignment came from renowned photographer, Prasad Bidapa. Talking about her mentor, Anushka says, “I went there when I was very young and he was protective of me and my parents really trusted him. Once, I just went to meet him along with my mom and he said he would be happy to make me walk for the first fashion show, which was scheduled in weeks. This was the same year when I met him.” That was the first time, Anushka walked on the ramp and looking back she remembers that she was very nervous that day. She continued modeling in her school and college days.
And, at 19, she auditioned and got selected for SRK starrer, Yash Raj film, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. Getting this far wasn’t difficult, but for her it was a struggle to get used to stardom and the fame that came with it. As per her she lost the anonymity of being a regular girl to embrace the fame of an actor. Talking about the changed life, she says, “It was really a big film, so there were a lot of hype around that and I got instant recognition after it. It was a lot for me to take in because I wasn’t prepared for all that and it took about six months for the feeling to sink in. Now, I feel more at ease with what I am doing and I am doing things which I believe in and want to do.”
There are actors, who are just happy sticking to their work onscreen, and there are people like Anushka Sharma, who even after fetching the best roles are pushing themselves further. Not feeling fulfilled with the kind of work that was being offered to her, Anushka co-founded Clean Slate Films in 2014 with her brother, Karnesh Sharma, and went on to produce and act in NH 10, which was declared a sleeper hit. Released in 2015, on a budget of about US $2.1 million, NH10 raked in approximately US $5.1 million worldwide at the Box Office.
“There was a need of certain kind of movies and I wanted to make them,” shares Anushka on her turning a producer. Besides starring in her own productions, Anushka went on to deliver hits like Sultan and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.Post the success of NH10, Anushka is now all set with her second production, Phillauri, which is due for release on March 24, 2017. Anushka would often sit with her brother and discuss the excitement and passion of various ideas. Production was always there at the back of her mind, but she never wanted to actively pursue it.
Anushka says, “Once at the sets of PK, I with the writer, Abhijat Joshi just went on to have a good conversation and he told me that it seems you understand script more. Why don’t you think of creating content.” May be it wasn’t an eureka moment for her but it helped her to be more confident about what was already building up. Having the sense of not enough good roles around that were being pitched to female leads, she felt the willingness to do much more with the opportunity available.
Talking about the moment she turned a producer, Anushka shares, “When NH10 came to me, I knew that it would be a film which is going to be on my shoulder, I have to pull it off . To top it all it carried an adult certificate and hence it won’t have a wide audience. I knew that the film would not appeal all but will have heavy impact. I was confident about the film and I told them that I was ready to shoulder the load considering the fact that it was made on a minimal budget. And, this factor gave the movie the opportunity to be more real.”
That’s how she decided to get involved with NH10. Her production house is actively working with newer people and collaborating with new talent and fresh directors and writers. With Anushka taking care of the creative side, her brother understands the people management well.
Talking about working with her brother, Anushka says, “When you have a similar kind of vision for your company then I think it becomes easier to tackle things because somebody at different page makes operations difficult. We are close to each other and trusting so a similar mindset helps.” Going forward, Anushka says, work has already begun on her third production. Anushka would also like to venture into the brand licensing and merchandise for further brand extension.
(This article was first published in the March issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)