Anushka Sharma’s career as the co-producer of a production house has gone from strength to strength, with her backing films across genres, from NH10 in 2015 to Phillauri in 2017 and Pari this year. Over a series of interviews, she spoke about the rigours of the job, the highlights and why she won’t give up that easily.
ON WHAT PROMPTED HER TO TURN PRODUCER
What happened with NH10 was that it just seemed like a more commercially viable option for me to let go of my actor fees and just say fine, because then it’s easier for people to put money in a film like this. As much as we talk about offbeat films, the industry is not lapping at picking up these things. They want to alter it, they want to make changes and stuff like that. So what you have to say is, “I’ll get involved with you guys in risk sharing.” Then it’s easier to put up these films. Rather than making compromises with the movie and saying we can’t do this, we can’t do that, we already felt that we weren’t given enough of a field to play in. After I said okay fine, let’s just produce a film, it seemed easier to make a film like this. That’s why the decision happened.
ON BEING TOLD TO MAKE HER FILMS ‘MORE COMMERICIAL’
When I’m looking at it [NH10], I’m saying this is actually a very commercial topic. But people are not looking at it like that because we were told to do songs, we were told to lip-sync to songs. And we said what, these guys are about to get into trouble, they’ll get out of the car and start dancing in the field? Sometimes when these suggestions happen, when these guys make suggestions, they are so convinced about what they are saying.
ON BALANCING PRODUCING WITH ACTING
I had to balance when to cut off and when to get involved. I had to make sure I was not compromising my performance in any way. Of course my brother is there and I’m blessed he’s doing this with me because otherwise this would have not been possible. Certain decisions, certain things related to production you know will affect you in the future, when those things came up, and you know you also have to do a scene tomorrow – I was always aware that I had to keep this balance. When I was on set, I was on set. I wasn’t even talking to my brother or anyone. I was like, “yeah I don’t want to talk to you. I’m an actor.” I had to cut off, I had to be in my own zone.
ON CHOOSING THE NAME OF HER PRODUCTION COMPANY
There’s a reason why my production house is called Clean Slate films. The philosophy behind it is that every time you start something new, a new film, it has to be a clean slate. You cannot take the baggage of a successful film, or the baggage of a film that didn’t do well because you get attached.
ON PUSHING THE ENVELOPE
For the ghost [in Phillauri], we tried to create something that hadn’t been done before. An entire character created in VFX using just the upper body of the actor. You’ve seen ghosts, but you haven’t’ seen a ghost like this, even in foreign films.
In our society, you’ve never seen a girl picking up a rod and hitting these goons, these horrible horrible men. You’ve not seen that kind of a film [NH10]…you usually see the heroes doing this stuff.
ON THE NEED FOR INNOVATION
[Films need to be marketed] and not as a template. There people have to get very creative. That’s where you need good marketing teams to come up with different plans. Otherwise they follow a set template, and I’ve done that with so many of my films. You know, you go do these mall visits. I did this the first few times and then I found it damn strange. When I was growing up I didn’t think that I would dance in a mall.
ON MAKING FILMS ON A BUDGET
When I was shooting for Sultan, they had three cameras. So I was like, wow, big film! Three cameras, while we are struggling on a small film. When I was shooting for Phillauri, we were shooting in a place which was very close to Ludhiana. So I had to go from the Phillauri set to Ludhiana for a week to shoot for Sultan. So when I was there, I was like, should I take the water with me? I can fill a truck with the water bottles and take it back. I’m just kidding, but then you’re making a film on a budget, you know you have to make a small film, calculate the location, number of days. But it’s a huge kick.