She made splash from her first film and with each new performance, you see why she was chosen out out of hundreds of hopefuls to star opposite Shah Rukh Khan. We are talking about the lovely and sparky Anushka Sharma. After the fab debut in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, and the praise for her role in Badmaash Company, the young actress is ready to present her third release to the world. Band Baaja Baaraat is a rom-com set in the world of Delhi wedding season. In the film Anushkah plays Shruti, a girl who is ambitious and wants to do a lot in her life. About her character she says, “Shruti is very relatable… any girl can relate to her. She is contemporary and has values and wants to move forward and she wants to get it all.”
In an in-depth interview Anushka chats about her love for her role, working with Ranveer and many more fabulous Band Baaja Baaraat tidbits! Enjoy!
How did you feel when Manish read you the script of Band Baaja Baaraat?
I am a sucker for romantic comedies. I love rom-coms. Ever since I became an actress, which was not very long ago, I wanted to do a romantic comedy but I don’t see such films being made in our country, like something I can fall in love with. I fell in love with this script as soon as it was narrated to me. When Maneesh narrated the script to me I did not realize how those three/three and a half hours passed. I was completely engrossed because Maneesh’s narration was lovely. His understanding of the characters was great. He was narrating exactly how he wanted the characters to say the dialogues. I understood the idea and the world of the film instantly because of the narration. After the narration I didn’t find it important to tell him that I loved the script and wanted to do it or didn’t want to do it, I also took that liberty because he is a friend, and we have shared a great relationship over three years. We have been friends for three years. Maneesh had been instrumental in me being in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. He was the person that auditioned me for Taani, that’s how long back we go. It’s very rare that you get a Hindi film script, which is a rom-com… in a rom-com it’s always about a boy meeting a girl… how they meet, what happens, what’s the conflict – this is always the story. It’s the story telling in this script, the screenplay and the dialogues that completely grasp you as a listener. This script completely took over me when I read it, and this is very rare in a Hindi film. Band Baaja Baaraat is a rom-com, it is a love story but with a lot of desi-pan to it… because your characters are so grounded that you relate to it and become completely part of the film. That is what is so lovely about the movie and script.
Tell us about your character, Shruti Kakkar.
Shruti could be a girl from any Indian city – Delhi, Bangalore, Nagpur, Mumbai. She wants to do a lot in life. She has many goals, is very ambitious and she is a very principled and well brought up kid from a loving close family. She is somebody who can talk to her parents about anything under the sun… about boys and about her problems just anything and everything. She’s that person and in spite of Shruti being so meticulous and so systematic in life, whether it was college or in life, she is so studious. She gets good marks and wants to do well in exams and in spite of all that she has this amazing spunk in her, which comes from her confidence and self confidence. She thinks she is amazing and can achieve everything. Her goal to be a wedding planner was perhaps set from the third wedding she ever attended with her parents. S had decided that I want to be part of these huge weddings, this glamour and I wanted to be making it in this world. She knew this right from the beginning ever since she was young and anything else that was surrounding – boys etc, friends; movies are all distractions like they are all uskee paao ki jooti. She’s just too cool, in spite of this, she is not proud. She is proud in the right way. She is battameez but in an endearing way. She is very moofat with family members and she won’t polish what she is saying because she’s very honest and has had a good upbringing. This is how girls are today; Shruti is very relatable… any girl can relate to her. She is contemporary and has values and wants to move forward and she wants to get it all. She’s a feminist and she is everything a girl wants to be. Shruti is the kind of girl who before she starts writing on a paper she will draw a margin… she will always write the date, she is very meticulous and she will fight with the auto rickshaw wala for five rupees not because she wants to save it but because he is acting smart with her. She won’t take any of that. Agar ladka chedega, gala pakadke bologi “leke jaaon police station mein“, electricity wala agar galat kaam kar rahaetc… she will always do the right things, she is very gutsy and very endearing and she is very cool and that’s what I love about her. She has guts and it’s very enjoyable to see her… I was always smiling reading about her in the script.
How did you prepare for this role – the world of wedding planners and the world of a Delhi girl?
We play wedding planners but that’s not the film – it’s just the backdrop. It’s a love story. As much as we needed to know about the planners was provided in the script as Maneesh and Habib Faisal (Screenplay & Dialogue writer) had researched extensively. Maneesh has been to so many weddings in his life in Delhi that he had a pretty good idea about it. Me on the other hand, I have not attended any wedding because by the time I was fourteen I was done with all the weddings in my family and nobody got married after that. I had to obviously learn a few things. And of course I learned things from Maneesh. But when I read the script I didn’t really feel I needed to know exactly what a wedding planner was because that is not the film – it’s not a documentary on wedding planning, it’s a film simply set in the environment and it’s primarily a love story. As much I needed to know about wedding planners was available on paper in the script but yes I had to understand the way an event manager would function. Management is what I had to inculcate – speaking fast, giving directions and a lot of this was not written but we have just shot so many montages on the set impromptu with Maneesh. We just got together and improvised things on set. I just had to know how to pass instructions quickly, the things that had to be taken care off – I had to quickly say it like decoration at one time, lighting at one time or a bar that had to serve drinks all at once so I guess these were the things I had to look into… understating the magnanimity of a wedding other than that script helped. What I really worked on was speaking in a way a Delhi girl would talk. I am from Bangalore and I had to learn a certain lingo. I had to cut out the pauses in between words and talk fast but make sure so people can understand what you are saying and we had enough readings with Maneesh for that. I used to underline my script to cut out pauses to get the hang of the language and lingo. I interacted with my cousins from Delhi to understand how they talk and speak. I tried to watch recent films about Delhi and people of Delhi and apart from that I have to credit Habib and Maneesh – they are from Delhi and know how Delhi-ites speak or how Delhi girls speak. I haven’t enjoyed speaking as much in character like how Shruti speaks. I love that manner of speaking!
Tell us about Maneesh Sharma.
I met Maneesh for the first time during my auditions for RNBDJ – he was playing table tennis and was sweating when I first saw him! He was the Associate Director. We became friends that very day we got along that day itself, because I was very scared of Adi initially, Maneesh was the medium between us. So we became friends. Maneesh is one of the five people I know in Bombay ever since I have been here. I know few people and he is one of them. This is his first film and it’s so lovely to work with a friend in a movie. I am not a filmy kid so I don’t have film friends in the industry and I’ll never be given this kind of an opportunity. Maneesh understands me, he understands my gestures and the things I do with my hands, my face, my eyes like anything, some of my movements that even I am not aware of he had observed me and he could take that out and make it a part of Shruti’s characteristics. It was lovely working with Maneesh. I didn’t have to pretend anytime. I could just go up and tell him “dude mujhe samajh nahi aa rahaa hai” or say I don’t agree with this. So there was no pretense. When we were on set of course we were director and actor but here was a comfort level, which I have never shared in my life that has helped me a lot to play Shruti – I have only played three characters and this was most difficult to play as the way she speaks is not like me and it really helped me and the whole film is just Shruti and Bittoo so you have to maintain that graph and Maneesh being a friend really helped. The honesty of the character has come out because of Maneesh being a friend and directing. It’s strange but Maneesh auditioned me for my first film. I was launched by YRF. Ranveer was launched by YRF and so is Maneesh as a director, produced by YRF and all three of us are connected strangely in some way and now in one film together so there was good energy coming out I think that played its part in making BBB. Maneesh since he knows me knows that I need to be instructed a little bit then left alone so I can process it to give a take. If I get a lot of instructions I get thoroughly confused and my brain starts overworking and I start to look confused so Maneesh knows that about me. He just told me what was happening before the scene and after and he would just let me be then which I appreciated. Maneesh gets a little crazy on set. He’s so focused like hasee aa jaati hai ya and he would say kyun has rahe ho! chup karo! Initially I used to be dude, what’s wrong with him but then I understood that as a director you are handling so many departments and need to make sure it’s all going right. So I knew it’s all coming from there. Fact is he understood his characters really well and explains things really well. I can’t explain how he explains but the way he does I understand it so I have that connect. He shoots really well, is very quick which I like. It’s very spontaneous and even Aseem (the cameraman) moves around the camera really quickly… he lit up the places really quickly. So we could just get on with it. It gives you that energy on set when you are moving quickly. Maneesh is a little different on set than he is otherwise but the understanding we have helped.
What do you feel about an unusual professional field like wedding planning?
Till sometime ago the professions parents wanted their kids to enter into was doctors, lawyers or engineers. Apart from that there was nothing and going into anything else meant that because they couldn’t do anything else the kid is doing this… but with Shruti, in this film she always wanted to be a wedding planner and her parents were always supportive of what she wanted to do. I think things are changing in our society and parents are allowing their kids to do what they want to do. Avenues are opening up much more and there is scope for other professions now other creative professions – wedding planning, advertising, marketing… it’s all opening up. You see that in this film but you don’t see it in Hindi cinema but you see it here. And it’s not spelled out but you can get a sense of it. Shruti stands for that generation, that youth. She wants to be a wedding planner. Log jaante bhi nahi hai wedding planners kya hota hai. In India this is a service only provided to the high society with a high budget. What is interesting is that in this movie we have shown how these people with this service take over middle class society and small weddings. There is a dialogue in the film “maame chaache milke shaadiyaan karaan lete hain.” But here we show how the kids get into Gobindpuri and Janakpuri and plan weddings there. Which is unheard of. Another thing the movie touches upon, even me I belong to this generation, is that we choose work over love in today’s time. I do that too. You feel now is the time to work. You feel whatever comes into my life will distract me from my path and I should not loose focus but we fail to understand that these are things we cannot control. Feelings of love cannot be controlled when someone comes into your life and you are not even aware of it. You are so completely lost and we completely just shut that side of ours to it… that emotion. And we just start thinking that will never happen and we think hum to correct jaa rahein hain and we are being correct and being all principled and following our dreams but these things suddenly strike you in life. And you gotta make a choice and that’s another thing you see in this film. So it has a certain sense of youthfulness. In this movie you see emotions, feelings and the journey each of us goes through in this age, you come out of college and you suddenly feel this quarter age. You see that also in the movie like I said earlier every young girl and every young guy will relate to Bittoo and Shruti because they are just one of you. It’s their story and there is no filminess as they say attached to it. There is no pretense. Bittoo Shruti are what they are and the way they speak, they are unapologetic and that’s the way today’s youth are too.
Tell us about Ranveer Singh.
When I was called for the narration I was informed there was a new guy in the room and I was kind of thinking he will be this new guy in the movie. So I met Ranveer for the first time at the reading. RV is not a very normal guy. He’s not the kind of guy I have met or come around. When he came into the room he had his ipod on and was grooving to the music. I don’t think he knew he was meeting me. Maneesh just told him you will be meeting your co-actor so without a care in the world he just walks in and says ‘hey wassup’ and that’s the impression I have about Ranveer. He doesn’t care about anything. He’s focused, like he was there for a reading and he was completely unperturbed about what was happening around him and that’s the impression of Ranveer I have even today. People will assume that because I worked with Shah Rukh Khan or Shahid Kapoor and comparatively I am still very new, only in my third film, and when you work with people who are experienced and seasoned you learn a lot from them and that’s nice… and that helps you as an actor in your growth. So I assumed that from Ranveer I won’t learn so much. You know just do my part in the film and go out of it but I must say today I have learned a lot from him as an actor. Ranveer is the most uninhibited actor I know and I genuinely mean this not that I know too many of them but Ranveer is one of the most uninhibited people I have met. You can tell him anything… you just have to convince him and tell him what it means and he will just go out and do that. That is brilliant and as actors we are expected to do things that ordinary people can’t do on screen as that is inspirational if not aspirational. You need to get out of our comfort zone which is a little difficult. You get caught as an actor and sometimes you get uncomfortable and you can’t play roles and I saw him and was completely and totally inspired. If he had come on set and was doing breathing exercises that he was very fond of. He would just start doing kapal bharti which was so irritating in the beginning but he just didn’t care and it takes getting used to. He knew everyone was waiting for him but he just wouldn’t care and at the end of the day if he can deliver the scenes like it was meant to then he can do whatever before that, it’s fine. I like that attitude about him and I really learned from him. Apart from that Bittoo had to be very well cast, the film is about these two characters and these two people completely embody the characters and Ranveer is the most correct choice for this role. Ranveer is Bittoo and Bittoo is Ranveer.
Tell us about Ranveer’s character Bittoo.
Bitto is everything that Shruti is not… if Shruti would put a margin on an A4 sheet then Bittoo would not even posses a notebook… if Shruti was running to catch the bus in time then Bittoo would be just sleeping at home till twelve missing his classes but when they come together it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. When they come together it seems all right… all the friction they have generates spark and that spark is so attractive to watch.
A lot has been send about Ranveer and Anushka’s chemistry. Comments?
It is a huge misconception that chemistry comes from actors. Chemistry comes from characters and from the script… when the script is so well written as this one was. If you are a decent actor and honest to your job and have a decent understanding of your character then you just do your thing honestly. I have done my thing and Ranveer has done his things… its just worked out so well me and Ranveer. We were not discussing what should we do so that the chemistry works even Maneesh never discussed this, we simply came together and performed and there you have Bittoo and Shruti!
Did you guide Ranveer along the way?
I used to actually get nostalgic when I saw Ranveer’s journey especially the time when he was doing his auditions. I met him while he was doing auditions. I used to feel I know exactly what it feels like being in that place so every stage of Ranveer’s journey especially auditions I have been able to relate to. I was exactly in that same place two years ago so I felt a little protective towards him for this reason because I saw myself there like the first time his picture came in the newspapers in Delhi he was saying people are saying this and that and I completely could relate to that. I was always baattaaoing my gyaan with him so we had that common factor going. When I acted in RNBDJ for the first time, I just wanted to be instructed enough then left alone. That’s how I am so far. So here I just did my reading with Ranveer and left him alone and you never had to tell anything to Ranveer. Maneesh was always handling him, Maneesh just used to say bring this down, tone this up you never really had to say much to him as he was always prepared, he knew his lines, he was focused, in fact you had to get him out of his zone, you had to say hey Ranveer you are stepping on my foot that’s how he used to get! So he did his bit and if he needed anything I was always around him and what gyaan can you baataao in two films?
Tell us about the song ‘Tarkeebein’.
Very peppy college song and it shows variations of college life, Shruti’s college life and Bittoo’s college life so you see the difference in the two. I didn’t even know when the song was shot because suddenly beech main one day it was like ‘Tarkeebein’ ka kuch shots le lete hain but it’s so beautifully shot… when you see the song you will know its completely shot on a college campus and its one of my favorite songs and it reminds you of college life… people who are in college will relate and say it’s what we do in college everyday.
Tell us about the song ‘Ainvayi Ainvayi’.
‘Ainvayi’ is my favorite song in the film. I love the lyrics its insane… it was hard to learn them…; even the music is rap but desi rap… it’s in a wedding but still not wedding like so I guess it’s that but not that and that’s what I like about it. I think its one of the best songs in the film. I think the song will do really well… I’m very confident about this song and it’s probably one of the best songs of my career so far.
Tell us about the song ‘Dum Dum’.
I have never worked so hard in my life as I have on ‘Dum Dum’. It looks amazing and I was thinking oh god this is amazing! Vaibhavi has done an amazing job and all the laser effects! It has this sufiyaana andaaz… there is a longing in the song and a lot of high energy and I can picture it playing in clubs. The memory I have of this song is my back breaking and legs hurting and I just dancing like crazy on ‘Dum Dum’ and it’s shot against a palace… it’s so beautiful and shot so well!
Tell us about the song ‘Baari Barsi’.
Shaadiyon ka gaana. It’s a song that is sung when ladies are around and boys will try and catch a glimpse slyly… it’s got this little old world charm but it’s very youthful… it’s got this hip hop feel and the treatment is really good by Salim Sulaiman. It’s a dance number and it’s got this shakira bhaabhi and you are talking about pizza and mango in the song-really fun! The lyrics are cool…another one of my favorites, it’s difficult to choose the favorite song of this film.
How was it working with Vaibhavi Merchant?
I have huge, huge respect for her and why I respect her is because she takes the best of you as a dancer and an actor and the kind of things she had made me do. The expressions that Maneesh wanted and she knew they had to get it out of Shruti. Like Shruti is that kind of a person – the jaan of a shaadi event. When she was growing up she was made to dance and entertaining people and that’s the kind of person Shruti just is. So I had to have that. Vaibhavi is very inspiring as a person. The kind of passion she has for her job completely rubs off on you and it did on me. I remember when I saw this film I sent her a message and thanked her and said thank you for all the dandaas that you gave me, it really helped. She makes you feel very important as an actor when she shoots and she gives you that dignity. I am very, very thankful that I worked with Vaibhavi. She’s one of my favorite choreographers in the industry and I guess her passion and enthusiasm for her job is just unmatchable.
Any shooting incidents, memory, recall anything special about shooting in Delhi?
I have never shot in Delhi nor have I stayed in Delhi but I had the time of my life in Delhi. We had a very good time, ate great food and the weather was lovely. I had a great experience shooting in Delhi, I think what you have to remember while shooting in Delhi is that people love to watch a shooting and you have to be prepared for it. People were so sweet and if you are shooting on the road and people are not gathered to see you then I would cry. So I was really happy that people were gathering to see the shoot and of course they were cooperative and listened when our AD’s went up to them and requested that they keep quiet and cooperate. But some things are worth mentioning like there is a very important scene where Ranveer and I are having a very important intense conversation outside the Shaadi Mubarak office and we are talking so softly and its my close up and Ranveer is giving cues and over his cues I can hear a man giving the choicest gaalis in the world because we are shooting in front of his dukaan and he thinks his business is not happening because people are busy looking at us and not buying any stuff from him. Eventually Ranveer Singh came up to our rescue and works his charm. The man threatened to disrupt the shoot and came in front of the camera. He only relented when Ranveer Singh went upto him and said, “Please sir… let us shoot. This is my first film and very important for my career.” The owner then melted and let the cast and crew shoot all night long! Being from Delhi, aadmi ka dil pighal gayaa and he allowed us to shoot in peace. It was very funny even when I was dubbing for the film I remembered this incident. Also in another very funny intense scene you will see that I am standing with Ranveer and then you will suddenly see Anushka on the ground. Why? Because Ranveer accidentally hits me with his elbow and what’s funny is what happened after I was hit. Maneesh, Aseem and Ranveer are the only ones who come up to me to see how I am while the rest go to see this take in slow motion on the monitor to see mujhe chote kaise lagee and saying array rewind karo so it was very funny with so many watching how I got hit… I think this unit was such a young new crew wanting to prove themselves and there was no ego with one another everyone hung out. There was nothing like cast or crew. Everybody was on set, the energy was so much fun and everyday you had fun shooting some good stuff and a good film and came back. And I really feel this energy worked on the film because everybody got along, everybody loved the film primarily. I think it comes from there, when you have respect for the movie you are working on then automatically everyone does a good job… it’s not just the actor or the director, it’s everyone – the ADs , the assistants and that’s what makes the movie Band Baaja Baaraat!
Your overall experience of working in the movie.
I think when I was in school and when I took part in a play or dance group, and when the year ends you have this sinking feeling that your experience has ended and you are not going to get anything or you feel this is over and you have to move on from the experience… that’s how I feel about this movie today and that is because not only because I was working with people I was happy to work with but because I was working on this film and this script. I feel very fortunate that at the beginning of my career I am offered such a film and a script and I really want to thank Aditya Chopra, Maneesh and genuinely also Ranveer. The film is such that performance was expected from the character and I really want to thank Adi and Maneesh for thinking that I would be right for this role because you really need to have confidence in an artist to offer him/her a film like this. I really want to thank them for that because this is one film I will cherish for my life. I don’t really know about the success of this film whether it will work or not but it’s not something I can ever predict but I will always have respect for this movie and know that I have done a very good film with talented people and had the time of my life and I sure it will do well!
Anushka of RNBDJ to Anushka of BBB. How has that been?
Obviously I am more confident as an actor, I have more confidence, I have started to understand some technicalities of film making… you start to understand more, you understand how you can give dialogues in a certain way you are more confident about it, apart from that I have had more experiences. First I used to think aap jaise ho duniya vaise hoti hai but I know that’s not how the world will be and you have to adapt to all kinds of people – this is very important for me. I was very young when I was in Rab Ne… and this journey had enabled me as an actor. I am not very confident of my growth as an actor but I am very confident of my growth as a person. I have given my everything to this movie and I can say this with a lot of confidence. I knew this script was so amazing to have that I wanted to give it my all and not let people down who had so much confidence in me and because Maneesh was a friend and it was his first film. I haven’t done it just for this of course; I have done it for myself too and I want him to him feel proud of me and I hope he feels that way. I hope people will enjoy this movie as much as we liked making it and I know that it will always remain one of the best experiences of my life.
Band Baaja Baaraat opens in theaters on December 10th!