'This year happens to be a very high performance year, and I have got appreciation for my characters.'
'I don't want to do a role in which I don't have anything to contribute.'
'I can't do a role just because I want to look glamorous; I am glamorous anyway!'
On December 12, a day after her first wedding anniversary, Anushka Sharma completes 10 years in the movies.
It is the day her first film Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi released in theatres.
Aditya Chopra's film saw her opposite Shah Rukh Khan, and it seems Anushka's career comes a full circle as she is ready with yet another love story opposite King Khan.
"It's a cool coincidence!" Anushka exclaims as she fields questions about Zero, an Aanand L Rai venture that sees her play Aafia, a woman suffering from cerebral palsy.
As she reflects on her role, Anushka tells Patcy N/Rediff.com, "I would sit on the wheelchair the whole day -- literally be on my own, sit in my space and understand what it feels like to be confined physically."
What prep did you do to play a person with cerebral palsy?
Even before the script came to me, Himanshu (Sharma, writer) and Aanand sir had worked extensively on researching the character and the condition she has.
They had spoken to doctors and charted her story.
They made me understand the challenges she faces.
He told me she is a brilliant and highly accomplished professional.
I trained myself physically and mentally right at the beginning to understand the character.
I read up a lot.
I spoke to doctors.
I was involved with an occupational therapist and audiologist for two-and-a-half-three months, understanding the limitations that the character would have.
Someone with this condition has to be confined to a chair. As an actor, you use your physicality a lot to perform which I wouldn't be allowed to do.
I had to create this involuntary action, like a spasm. To focus on that as well as the dialogues and emotions was really hard.
But I followed Aanand sir and Himanshu's vision and worked with the right people to understand the character.
How much time did you take to learn the mannerisms, especially when your character stands?
Even when I would get up, it would be with the limitations that my character has -- like how will her body go forward and backward?
How will she pull herself up?
In the beginning, I would take more takes to pull it off.
The occupational therapist would be on the sets to see that I am doing it correctly.
I would sit on the wheelchair the whole day -- literally be on my own, sit in my space and understand what it feels like to be confined physically.
What interested you about this character?
It was going to be a challenging role.
She has no control over her life. For me, that was exciting to understand.
To get into the life of somebody like her, who is so brilliant and undeterred by her condition, was beautiful.
Are you nervous about how the audience will receive your performance?
I don't think I am nervous now.
I was nervous when I was doing it -- when I started working on the film and the first few days.
I have done it to the best of my ability.
It is reported that you did not say yes to Aanand L Rai immediately.
I never say yes to any film in the first go.
I think that is my problem. It's because I need to process it.
When you hear something, you need time to understand what you heard and what you liked. So I always take time to mull over it.
Then, I was pretty excited that he was offering something like this because I knew it would be challenging.
Zero is a film that celebrates love and imperfection in a larger-than-life sort of way.
Aanand Rai is a good director. His work has been loved, so I wanted to go on this journey with his vision.
Despite the character's imperfections, she is happy and content.
The imperfections are not because of the condition, that is the beauty of the film.
Everybody has imperfections even if they are not physically challenged. Like say, Shah Rukh's character. You can have another challenge like Katrina's character -- she has an emotional imperfection.
Everybody, in their everyday lives, have challenges that we have to overcome.
Sometimes, it is apparent like in the case of Shah Rukh's and mine.
Sometimes, it is not quite apparent, like Katrina's character, who is a superstar. You will think everything is well in her life, what is the big deal? But she has her own challenges.
The beauty of this film is that Aanand Rai has not limited them to how people see them. It's beyond that.
Normally, there would be a lot of judgement as to how such a character would be played.
I have portrayed her character exactly the way it should be.
A lot of case was taken by everyone. Ultimately, it is the director's vision that you follow. He had a lot of clarity.
How different is Aanand L Rai from other directors?
He gives a larger-than-life cinematic experience.
Shah Rukh and he have worked passionately on this film. They have tried to create a beautiful experience.
He is a very sensitive person and director.
He really understands how to treat actors sensitively. Actors literally bear our souls in front of everyone and people judge that. He understands that.
You have worked with Shah Rukh Khan in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, When Harry Met Sejal and now, Zero. All four are love stories. So do you sit with Shah Rukh and discuss how you will approach this role differently?
No, that depends on the director and how he represents it.
By and large, all love stories are the same. There are two people who love each other and then there is a conflict between them.
What will that conflict be?
The complexity makes the film interesting.
Aanand Rai and Himanshu work really well together.
Shah Rukh and I have played the roles differently as the setting has always been different.
The characters we have done have been interesting right from the first film, where he played Suri. You have never seen him do that before.
It was my first film, so you had obviously not seen me before!
In Jab Tak Hai Jaan, he played an army officer. I was there to shake things up in his life.
In When Harry Met Sejal, the characters play off each other.
When Harry Met Sejal did not do well at the box office. While signing this film, did you have that on your mind?
No, I don't carry the baggage of another film.
This is a different film, a different team, a different story.
If you carry the baggage of a successful film, you become complacent.
If you carry the baggage of a film that has not done well, you become fearful and bring bad energy to your work.
I treat each project differently.
This year, we are seeing you in experimental roles in Pari, Sanju, Sui Dhaaga and Zero. Why do you pick up such roles?
Otherwise I will get bored!
If I don't do something that excites or challenges me, I will get bored.
What excites me is that I am able to reinvent myself.
I want people to see a different human being with every film.
This year happens to be a very high performance year, and I have got appreciation for my characters.
It feels good to take up challenging roles, and if you can pull it off, there's a sense of accomplishment.
I don't want to do a role in which I don't have anything to contribute.
I can't do a role just because I want to look glamorous; I am glamorous anyway!
What do you have to say about the #MeToo movement?
I am glad all this is coming out in the open.
It has created a sense of fear that nobody can get away with anything, even if they are in powerful positions.
I think things will look better in future.