Anushka Sharma began her career working with the biggest star in the industry Shah Rukh Khan. She has seen a rapid ascent to stardom and is hailed as a natural actor, who relies on her instinct to deliver strong performances. She shares the screen with Ranbir Kapoor for the first time in Anurag Kashyap's Bombay Velvet. Anushka told IBTimes how she developed the character of Rosie, how her friendship with Ranbir Kapoor helped her portrayal and how she copes with the scrutiny that comes with fame.
How was it to celebrate your birthday with a screening of Bombay Velvet with the cast and crew?
"It was special. It was a nice birthday present that Anurag gave me by showing the film on my birthday. It was definitely memorable and great to share that with everyone,"
What was it that drew you to this story set in fifties Bombay?
"It was the script mainly. I really liked the story and the world that Anurag had created. It was also the role of Rosie and the opportunity for me to be seen in the kind of role audiences had not seen me in before. It was the complete package for me including the director."
Can you describe the character of Rosie?
"Rosie is a jazz singer. She escapes a very terrible life she was leading. She wants to go out into the world but she's very vulnerable. When she meets Johnny Balraj she finds in him a relationship of equals and he treats her with unconditional love and she has never known anything like that in her life. That becomes the most important part of her life, her relationship with Johnny."
What goes into the process of developing a complex character like Rosie, from her look to understanding the impact of her life experiences on her?
"The starting point is the script. I don't know the kind of life this character leads or the mental and psychological trauma that she goes through so that's the difficult part. It comes through lots of discussions with your director and then the character emerges organically. She's a singer and I'm not, so I had to think about how to hold the mike, her facial expressions as she's singer because it has to be believable. I have to be convincing that I am actually a singer. All of that became a part of my training. And apart form the fact that every actor has a certain energy and personality. My Character's personality is very different from my own personality. So a lot went into how the character is seen on screen finally."
What was it like to go back in time to fifties Bombay and what do you think of the era?
"It left a big impression on me. I think I would want to live in that time. It's like the golden era. It was a great society and a great time to experience as a young person. The world that's recreated for the film was one rich with creativity with Jazz singers and clubs and high society. I had not thought that Bombay could have been like that. So it was a real discovery for me."
What does it bring to your performance when working with such a fine actor as Ranbir Kapoor?
"Whenever you work with a good actor it will obviously help you. Acting is about reaction and when you're opposite a good actor your performance becomes more real, more authentic. For me and Ranbir its our first film together but we complement each other. We've always respected each other's work and because of our friendship its been much easier for us to play these characters, The kind of friendship they have is very childlike because although they are passionately in love with each other they are both as vulnerable as children. So I think it played out really well because of the personal relationship we share as friends off screen. We have been friends for man years and so we have that kind of easy chemistry."
Anurag Kashyap is known for his gritty cinema. What was it like working with him for a commercial film on such a lavish scale?
"Anurag really lets you be. He doesn't really tell you what to do. And for me personally as an actor that is very important. I like to be left alone. I can't work with too many restrictions and too many instructions. Every actor has a certain way in which they work and so for that reason Anurag and me work really well together. One of his best qualities is that he doesn't get stressed by anything. He takes everything in his stride and that shows on screen. He's handling multiple things, layered characters in complex situations and recreating those on film, which is not easy to do. When you see the film you'd understand the complexity of creating that world on canvas and the characters that he has worked so well into the film."
Karan Johar makes his acting debut as a villain in the film. What did you make of his performance?
"According to me Karan was not the obvious choice for the film, because of his personality, but what people will see when they see his performance is the way that he plays the character and you cant imagine anyone but Karan playing him. He not the typical villain He has a very corrupt mind and a very manipulative side and Karan has portrayed that perfectly."
You have had a run of consistent films. How do you receive both success and failure?
"I'd like all my films too do well. All actors would want that. But I only do a film where I'm absolutely sure of what I'm getting into, with stories that speak to me. I'll do films that are different and maybe even difficult to make. That's part of my journey and that's how I've done a certain number of films and I'm proud to have worked with some of the best filmmakers in the country. And that's what excites me,"
How do you cope with the public scrutiny that comes with fame?
"The way to cope with it is to be constantly working and moving forward and not getting submerged in things that don't concern your work. Its just about focusing on your movies and getting the right roles and that's what s most important."