In the year 2008, Yash Raj Films introduced a new actress to the Hindi film industry. There was no reveal of her face before the trailer. Then there were the 26/11 attacks that just happened just a few days prior to the film’s release. Thus, birthday girl Anushka Sharma was a complete surprise when Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi hit the theatres. And suddenly, she became a talent to watch out for and 15 years later, she is an icon.
Anushka started with a break that one would have killed for. She debuted opposite Shah Rukh Khan in a romantic drama and the film went on to become a blockbuster. The stage was set for her to become a star, and she utilised it brilliantly with her own touch.
The tag of a ‘commercial heroine’
Up until a decade or so ago, when we used to speak about a ‘commercial heroine’, what it constituted used to be different. A commercial heroine was usually just a love interest for the hero, or a damsel in distress. The part won’t have much substance and it would heavily be dependent on the male lead. The screen time was another topic of discussion in this issue. But in a time like that, Anushka made conscious choices that changed it all.
She did films like Band Baaja Baarat, Badmaash Company, Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl amongst others. These films were commercial in the truest sense. But neither of them compromised on the quality of Anushka’s role. She made sure that her role had something, and the audience still remembers those parts of her.
Working with the Khans
Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan are three of the biggest stars Indian cinema has ever seen or will ever see. However, there once used to be a lot of discussions about the meat in the role of female leads in their films. But Anushka is one such actress who has worked with all the 3 Khans and had poignant and substantial roles in all.
After starting with SRK in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, the actress reunited with him in Jab Tak Hai Jaan in 2012. Even though hers was a secondary lead to Katrina Kaif, her role was so impactful that no one can ignore that. She also worked with SRK in Jab Harry Met Sejal and Zero, and no matter how the films fared, her roles were impactful.
Then in 2014, Anushka worked with Aamir Khan for the first time in Rajkumar Hirani’s PK. In a film dealing with religion and showing Aamir as an alien, Anushka could have easily gotten lost. But the actress made a mark of her own. Her role of a reporter was highly poignant and she was never there just for the sake of it.
Anushka Sharma completed the Khan trifecta in 2016 when she starred with Salman Khan in Sultan. It is still considered one of Salman’s most moving films. And Anushka’s role in it was as important as his. With Sultan, Anushka established that she wasn’t here just to be a commercial heroine in the stereotypical sense. She made sure her roles had substance and till date she ensures that.
Anushka Sharma, the producer
Today we see many leading actresses turning producers, but there also, Anushka was amongst the first. She turned a producer with NH 10. With films like Phillauri, Bulbbul and Qala post that, she has established a reputation of good quality. Anushka might have backed out of production now, but the brand she has created has a legacy to uphold.
The actress in her personal life
Apart from her film choices, in real life too Anushka led with example. She got married to Virat Kohli at the prime of her career, shattering believes around an actress’ shelf life. She then went on to have her daughter Vamika Kohli and took a break from work. All of it on her own terms.
Now, Anushka Sharma is set to make her comeback to acting with Chakda Xpress. She plays the role of cricketer Jhulan Goswami, whose life has inspired the film. And even though it might have been a while since she appeared on screen, the audience is as excited to see her again. The birthday girl has indeed built a legacy that will inspire many and redefine many norms.