To use the cliché, Anushka Sharma has been working around the clock. This week’s release Sultan is her fifth in two years. “I haven’t had a day’s break in a very long time. Especially with Sultan because the kind of film it is and the prep I needed to do for it was quite challenging, but I managed… this is the time for me to work. Also, I am okay with a day’s break. More than that and I start driving everyone up the wall. I become a real pain for my family. I am sure my mother starts wishing that I go to work,” says Anushka.
The actor, who sees a window to take a break in November, says this rush of films is a coincidence. “For someone who has been in the industry for seven years, I haven’t had those many films. Forget contemporaries, even people who have come after me have done more films. I have been conscious of choosing films that seem correct to me, but this rush is a coincidence. I was supposed to have a long break between Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Phillauri. I was looking forward to being involved with the prep for Phillauri. Suddenly Sultan came and I had no breathing space.”
It was Aditya Chopra who sent Sultan Anushka’s way.
“I knew they had started shooting the film, so I couldn’t understand what was going on. I asked to listen to the script so Ali (Abbas Zafar, director) came to my house late one night after shooting to narrate it. I don’t know why they didn’t have an actress before they started shooting and it’s not something I even asked him.”
Between the narration and her first day of facing the camera, Anushka had only a fortnight to prepare. “I play a wrestler in the film. Even before I started the prep, I felt like I had a disadvantage because we have a clear idea of how a wrestler should look. I also thought that wrestlers should be really huge. When I started researching, I realised that there are different weight categories. So, it’s not like everyone is competing in the 75 kg category. There are girls competing in 48 kg and 53 kg. There are many international wrestlers who are tall like me and have toned bodies. That’s the look I went with—to get fitter instead of gaining muscle. I had a back problem, so I was already doing a lot of weight training; we just amplified it.”
Apart from learning to speak in Haryanvi accent, Anushka also had to learn the wrestling moves. “I was training with a guy, which is what happens with my character in the film as well. In the beginning when he would ask me to get into position and do some of the moves, I would feel very uncomfortable being that physically close to someone. I was voluntarily putting my face in someone’s armpit or getting close to someone’s ass. It was plain weird.” It took some time for Anushka to get used to that kind of physical proximity.
Before she started working with Salman for the film, the actress only knew him socially. “When I met him, he was exactly like I had thought he would be. With him, what you see is what you get, which is a huge relief. Even he is pushing himself with this film. There are some things he does in a shot that are so special and which is what his fans love so much about him. Like the step in Jag Ghoomeya…we were shooting that song and he came up with the step and it became a part of it. Everyone is doing that step now. Things he does are very inherent to him and people relate to that.”