It calls for blind faith to sign on a film without knowing much about your role or the storyline. Like superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood’s rising star Anushka Sharma jumped aboard Jab Tak Hai Jaan on the basis of two words: Yash Chopra.
“I didn’t need anything else to attract me to the role,” said Sharma in an interview with tabloid!.
Chopra, billed as one of Bollywood’s most influential filmmakers who wove lavish love stories, died at the age of 80 after contracting dengue fever last month. Jab Tak Hai Jaan, also starring Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif, is his directorial swan song.
“The fact that Yash Chopraji wanted me in his film and that I am going to be a ‘Yash Raj Heroine’ was an attraction enough.”
The phrase Yash Raj Heroine (YRH) was coined at the late Chopra’s ability to present his leading ladies in the most flattering light. Showcased as beautiful beings traipsing in breathtaking locales, Chopra’s ethereal women have brains and wit to complement their physical attributes.
For any top actress, being a part of the exclusive YRH club is a sure sign of progress and success. It’s akin to owning a swanky car or acquiring a posh address in Mumbai.
“For any actor, it’s a huge dream because he’s a brand in himself. And to get that chance so early in my career and for that dream to naturalise so early is superb,” said Sharma.
The former model made her debut in 2008 with Aditya Chopra’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, opposite Shah Rukh Khan. The six-film-old actress is the chosen few who had the privilege to work with both father and son.
“I think other than Shah Rukh, I got to work with both Adi and Yashji. It’s unfortunate that nobody can do so in the future. But I feel relieved and special. All I hope is that I can justify their choice by doing a good job in the film.” The 24-year-old actress who impressed us with the wedding planner romance Band Baaja Baarat claims the father-son belonged to two different schools of filmmaking.
“Adi [Aditya Chopra] is certainly influenced by Yashji. But they had different stories to tell. Yashji made films about human relations and Adi made films about good men and his stories were told from a man’s point of view.”
She would know best. In her debut film Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, directed by Aditya Chopra, the focus was on an ordinary man Surinder Sahni’s (Shah Rukh Khan) quest of winning over his beautiful, unattainable wife (Sharma).
This year’s Diwali release Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a love triangle, a premise that the late legendary director Yash Chopra perfected.
“My character Akira represents the pragmatic side of love. She feels if you are in love, it’s not something that you need to stop your life for. She is just too practical,” said Sharma.
Shot in London and Kashmir, Sharma plays an ambitious documentary filmmaker on a mission. Completing the drama is Khan as the tortured lover and Kaif as the perfect, but unattainable lover.
Is Sharma worried about playing second fiddle to Kaif?
“Not at all – that demarcation can be made only after a film releases. I am very aware of what I am doing in the film. The length of a role is inconsequential. Sometimes you may have the longest role. For example in my film Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, I had the longer role. But the author-backed character was Parineeti Chopra,” said Sharma.
In the romantic comedy Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, it was safe to say that Chopra’s character as the rich, brash Delhi brat walked away with top honours.
However, it’s clear that Sharma won’t succumb to reducing Jab Tak to the amount of screen time or box-office numbers. In her eyes being directed by the legendary filmmaker Chopra and acting alongside King Khan is the relevant big picture.
“This film has gained a special place in my heart. Whether it will do well or not … it’s too special for me to be concerned about all of that.” So what was it like to re-unite with Khan?
“He’s still the same lovely guy. He is affectionate and warm. He is so easy to work with. As an actor he is very selfless. Perhaps, that’s the quality that makes him a superstar. He is concerned about the entire project rather than just his work. It’s so easy and comforting to work with him,” she said.
Surrounded by brilliance and humility, she would also carry the memory of working under the late Chopra.
“The time I spent with Yashji is the best memory I would take back from this film. Three words that describe him aptly would be warmth, humble and child-like.”
*Jab Tak Hai Jaan releases in the theatres on November 13 in the UAE.