Anushka Sharma: Working with Pankaj Kapur, an educational experience

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola

Anushka Sharma: Working with Pankaj Kapur, an educational experience
Anushka Sharma on not relating to her character in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, crying in front of Vishal Bhardwaj and working with Pankaj Kapur being an educational experience.

Anushka Sharma is clearly one of the most sought after actresses in recent times. While her debut in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi didn’t make her an overnight star, as she claims, her spunky performance in 2010 sleeper hit, Band Baaja Baaraat had several A-list directors knocking her doors. While this year, she got an opportunity to work with Yash Chopra in his swan song, Jab Tak Hain Jaan, January 11 sees the release of Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola directed by Vishal Bhardwaj and in the pipeline are P.K. with Rajkumar Hirani and Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet.

“My biggest greed is to work with the best directors in the industry. There is no greater satisfaction,” says Sharma, who was approached for MKBKM after VB (as she addresses Bhardwaj) saw her in Band Baaja Baaraat. She beams, “He has led life in a certain way and you see a lot of that in his movies. They are the perfect description of the grey nature of human beings. For instance, though everybody in Maqbool does something which is unethical, by the end of the film, you don’t feel that anyone is a bad person. He sells you this belief that every human being is flawed and that is why, I have always liked his work. That was a learning for me too, while doing this film.”

Apart from the director, the biggest draw for Sharma was her character, Bijlee. “In our films, we over-simplify characters and categorise them as ‘sexy’, ‘bubbly’ or ‘female-oriented’ whereas no role can be played similarly when you are in a different world. VB’s world is so different and the characters have a lot of layers. When we started off, even I thought that Bijlee is just a spunky girl but when the script progressed I realised that she is a lot more than that,” says Sharma. Elaborating more on the character, she plays, she says, “Bijlee is an attention-seeking, spoilt brat which is evident in her in-your-face dressing. She is the most eccentric character I have ever played.” Comparing Bijlee with Shruti Kakkar (from BBB) and Akira (from Jab Tak…), Sharma believes that her previous characters were more level-headed and ambitious, but “Bijlee has no ambition or grounding at all. It’s the most tricky role I have ever played because playing regular people is more difficult than getting into an action gear because there are a lot more props available.”

Ask if she could relate to her character and without any hesitation, Sharma states, “Not at all, except for the fact that both of us enjoy dancing. I have never experienced the nature of relationships that Bijlee has, so I could not dive into my personal reserves to enact the part. Also, I would never get into a pond or get a tattoo done. She also has a very funny way of running, I am still a little proper. And she is quite flaky, whereas I am fairly sorted in that sense.”

As a result, getting hold of her character in the beginning of the film proved to be a challenge for the actress. “I remember sending a message to Vishal Bhardwaj as there was a point where I felt that I was totally screwing it up. When he came to speak to me about it, I must have started crying but he told me that I was doing fine. Once I got a hang of it, the process went smoothly,” admits Sharma.

While Sharma has sported a mix of Indian and western attire in her previous films, her look in this film has been a talking point since the first promo released. The actress, who will be seen wearing an eclectic mix of different coloured skirts, ponchos and even boots, claims that costume designer Payal Saluja played a huge role in shaping her character. She adds, “Though Bijlee is educated at Oxford, she has a distinct touch of her hometown Haryana in her dressing; she really stands out in the village because of her odd sense of dressing. The blue skirt you see in the song, Oh boy Charlie was actually bought from a shop in Rohtak. Bijlee is someone who will wear boots under the skirt.” The actress also sports several tattoos, and the most prominent is the one inked on her lower back that says ‘dekho magar pyaar se’. “All the tattoos are inspired by the art you see on the trucks,” says Sharma.

One of the most interesting lines in the trailer is when Bijlee confesses that she has ‘Meena Kumari complex’. Sharma explains the term, “Here, the term means when someone is happy only in sadness. Matru (Imran Khan) tells Bijlee that she has a Meena Kumari complex because she intentionally makes her life sad, and then pretends to be very happy.”

Meanwhile, Sharma admits that she shot this film in several places like Rajkot, fields of Haryana where she had not been before. But she had a great time shooting with her co-stars Pankaj Kapur and Imran Khan. Showering praises on Kapur, she says, “He is a very accomplished and extremely dedicated actor. If I even had 40 per cent of his focus, I would be very happy. Working with him was a very educational experience.” The actress also shared a very good rapport with Khan. She observes, “He has worked really hard in this film, and people will sit up and take notice of him as an actor after watching this film. He was great in Delhi Belly, but this is a completely different zone that he is experimenting with now.”

While Matru… awaits release, the actress begins shooting for P.K in February next, and then moves on to Ranbir Kapoor co-starrer Bombay Velvet, sometime in the middle of the year. Though, she refrains from divulging more about her next ventures, her confident smile foreshadows the happy phase that she is in and an extremely fruitful year to come.
Mumbai, Fri Jan 04 2013, 18:24 – krutika.behrawala[@]

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