'If today, I have to take up a nude role, I will, if I like the script and the director.'
'It has to affect me as a script and be meaningful.'
'It should not be to titillate the audience.'
It's not easy to be successful in Bollywood without filmi connections.
Anupriya Goenka has managed well, and is an OTT star today.
The actress had prominent parts in Sacred Games, The Final Call, Criminal Justice, Abhay, Asur, Aashram.
Anupriya began her movie career eight years ago in bit roles in Bobby Jasoos and Dishoom.
Bollywood has taught her a lot indeed, and she shares her lessons with Patcy N/Rediff.com.
'I understood the beauty of India'
I had no idea about how the industry worked.
I did not have any friends here, nor any experience.
I never imagined that I would get work immediately.
I have been working in the corporate set-up since in age of 16, so I knew what it takes to be in the real world.
But I did not know how to give auditions.
I got a few films in the first couple of months, which belonged to small production houses. Thankfully, I did not end up doing them.
It took me a couple of months to figure out who I wanted to be associated with and what kind of work I wanted to do.
I went to IFFI and understood niche cinema.
In Bombay, you have to be tactical.
You have to do ads and short films because you also need to earn.
I had no idea about the Telugu film industry because I had never seen it.
I didn't even know that industry existed.
But when I was offered a Telugu movie, I liked the director and said yes. That's when I understood Hyderabad and the culture in India, to be very honest.
I had heard about south India, but to really understand the subtle differences, how everybody is same and yet different in their own way, the way they talk, their culture, their food, their, music...
I understood the beauty of India after I started working in the Telugu movie.
I have grown up in metropolitan cities, and have had a fairly liberal childhood.
I have never encountered a village set-up.
Recently, I did a rural role, and you obviously have to adopt that body language and sensibility. So I got to meet a lot of villagers.
I stayed with them.
The way they talk, the way the men and the women are, the way the men respond...
I understood village life a little better.
'When you're doing a role in which you're representing someone, it becomes special'
I have played a lot of professional roles like a lawyer, an air hostess, a doctor...
As an actor, you have to understand the core of a character.
Like as a doctor or a nurse, I would be nurturing. But as a lawyer, I would have to be a little good in debate or have a practical bent of mind.
I enjoy acting for this reason -- to do things I couldn't do if I was in a regular job.
I get to see two different worlds and thankfully, because I come from a place of business and corporate, I understand these things.
I have had legal trials when I was helping in my father's business.
All of us have seen doctors.
So as an actor, you use your perception and your memory, and absorb a lot. That's part of your job too.
When you play these roles, you understand their worlds better.
Recently, I was on a flight and the air hostess started speaking to me about how she was enthralled about the The Final Call, where I play an air hostess.
She started discussing her problems and was so enamoured that someone was representing them.
When you are doing a role in which you are representing someone, it becomes special.
So yeah, I've learned from that.
'You're putting your self-esteem, your hopes and aspirations on line every day, and that teaches you perseverance'
The amount that acting has taught me in terms of perseverance!
You have to put yourself out there because you are the tool, you are the business, you are the product.
As an artist, you are supposed to just think creatively, your mechanism is supposed to be like you don't really think about other things.
But in today's world, you have to be your own business manager too.
You have to your own production person too.
You have to be your own stylist.
You are an all in one.
I never really understood a freelancer's life before this.
I think one of my major struggles was because I've lived a structured life in the past... I knew what my schedule would be everyday, how much money would come in...
I have more privileges now as compared to when I started.
There are people who will offer me roles and will probably be ready to wait for my dates too.
But life remains uncertain.
I still don't know what I'm doing today or tomorrow.
For the longest time, it was very confusing for me.
I could never take breaks because I would always wonder if there is work or if I was required.
A freelancer's life is so different because you have to motivate yourself.
As an actor, I would give 10 auditions a day because I used to do ads -- that's 100-150 auditions in a month!
Out of that, if I was lucky, I would get shortlisted in 16-17 ads, and then maybe one or two would work out.
You are constantly judged.
You can't take those rejections personally.
A normal person doesn't face rejections on a daily basis as much as artists do.
So you're putting your self-esteem, your hopes and aspirations on line every day, and that teaches you perseverance.
'Everybody brings something to the project'
I have learnt to work in a team, not just with actors, but also stylists, makeup people, directors, producers, everybody.
Everybody brings something to the project, be it the spot boy, or the light man or the camera team... everyone has an important place.
The learning never stops.
In my career, I have had three major shifts.
I started doing ads, then got into the movie space and now, the OTT shift has happened.
In the two or three years, this PR thing started for me.
I started having my own team of people to work with: PR, makeup, hair team, the stylist team...
Working with your own staff is also a learning.
'Social media has become a very big part of our life, but I wasn't prepared for it'
Social media has become a very big part of our life but I wasn't prepared for it.
I'm still figuring it.
I understood it much better in the lockdown.
Before it used to be a compulsion for me. Now, I realised that it is a form of expression.
I'm still learning as to where I see myself in it, how much of it I want to do.
The only thing that has been constant is that I should not be pressurised by it because acting is my main job.
Until now, I have not seen trolling that much.
I have only seen a lot of fluff, honestly, because I'm someone who's a non-confrontational.
I don't have an opinion on everything.
I don't care to share my opinion on everything.
I'm not a scandalous person.
There have been times in the past where I have had opinions on things that matter to me, but then I was trolled. That really shook me.
I am learning how to disassociate myself from the negativity, but if I have to respond, I will respond with respect.
'My only instruction to everybody is that don't make me fair'
(Director) Pradeep Sarkar told me that my right profile is good and that's how I knew which way to look for pictures.
I had the fortune of working with him very early in my career, and he made a huge impression on me.
I have realised that it's never been a direct learning that yes, this makeup suits me or this styling suits me. All that has been very subconscious.
Of course, I'm still figuring out makeup.
I'm a dusky girl.
My only instruction to everybody is that don't make me fair.
Makeup dadas have this habit of making you brighter and fairer, and there's a difference between the two.
I can do my own basic hair and makeup because I used to do it for my auditions.
I learned makeup on the job, like what kind of foundations are there, what are blushes, what is an eye-shadow...
The trends keep changing too, so you keep adapting yourself.
Different makeup artists help you along the way.
'I like synchronised classic dressing'
I have always had a clear idea about what fashion suited me.
I am a phase-oriented person -- so there were times when I only wore long skirts, or short skirts, or jeans, or jumpsuits...
Now because I have become more of a public person, I need to work with stylists.
I was never a jewellery person.
I like synchronised classic dressing.
I am not comfortable in pink shoes or, if your shirt is white and your jacket is blue. It's funky and nice but it looks like a complete mismatch to me.
I like straight lines.
I like clear cuts.
For me, less is more.
Sometimes, stylists push you and it's okay.
When they put so much love and attention, you trust them.
I was never okay with bling. But then in between, I bought a lot of bling and enjoyed it.
'Saving is important'
I was always very good with finance.
I come from a space where I had to support myself.
I have seen tough times, so I started investing when I was very young.
I bought my first property when I was 18.
I started investing in shares when I was very young.
Saving is important.
If I have money, and I know that I can stay without working for the next six months, it gives me the agency to not choose a project I don't want to do.
It gives me the agency of choice, which is very important in this field.
'I have not taken a break since 2017'
If I'm not working on set, I work from home.
But I'm still working on how to take breaks.
Some people do it beautifully.
Like, they'll do it right after a project or they'll do in between two projects.
I have not taken a break since 2017.
I only travel for work.
It's not as if I don't get days off in between.
But there is always a little work here, a meeting there, something in the pipeline, the dates keep shifting.
But the point is if you get a chance, you need to take off. You need to make that decision.
When you do things for yourself, you get creative satisfaction and that is very important to enrich your life.
'I am uptight about exposing, not intimacy'
I used to be drawn to dramatic and intense roles.
I enjoyed it because I was able to vent my angst.
Now, I want to do light-hearted stuff.
I want to do dark comedy.
As an actor, you keep changing, right?
Another learning that has happened is that I become calmer and more comfortable with my body.
I was always comfortable in my skin, in terms of being dusky or my vital stats.
But I am uptight about exposing, not intimacy.
My big learning was in 2015 when I did a movie called Maya with Nagesh Kukunoor.
It never released but I had lot of scenes where I had to expose.
I was playing an actress who was not getting good roles and she got into prostitution. They showed three years of her life with various people coming in and out of her house.
That movie taught me a lot.
Now I have become very comfortable in my skin.
If today, I have to take up a nude role, I will, if I like the script and the director.
It has to cater to my belief.
It has to affect me as a script and be meaningful.
The script should a have message.
It should not be to titillate the audience.