Anasuya Bharadwaj has played notable roles in films like Kshanam and Rangasthalam, and is also a popular anchor on television. She speaks to Alekhya Devarakonda about her latest film Thank You Brother, how motherhood has shaped her and her future film projects.
How did the shift happen from anchoring for the television shows to acting in films? What was your journey like?
Even before I was into showbiz I was being offered films, but the conventional setup of my family brought in a lot of inhibitions, and they never encouraged me to be a part of the film industry. After marriage, I got all the freedom and trust from my husband to explore this space. While I was hosting the show Jabardasth on ETV, I was offered Kshanam (2016).
Since you started off from television, did you have the apprehension that you'd be typecast as a certain kind of actor? How did you deal with it?
Of course, I still have those inhibitions; it's an everyday struggle. Every time I listen to a narration or am offered a character to play; it is very challenging to take up films. Yes, the worry around typecasting is there because if one plays a character and if it clicks well, such similar characters follow you. So, ACP Jaya Bharadwaj's role in Kshanam gave me a lot of courage and confidence, and also very blissfully forced me to not repeat the characters from the beginning of my career. Therefore, I have played different characters, not related to each other.
What inspired you to take up the film, Thank You Brother?
When I was narrated the script by the director Ramesh Raparthi I was told that 80% of the film is going to be in an elevator and the story runs only between two characters. I felt that it was very intriguing and challenging. Normally, when the film is being conceived we prioritize who's going to be the actor, technicians and locations, etc. But for this film, the priority was majorly about striking the balance between the two main characters played by me and Viraj in the elevator. Also, the lesser the cast in the film, the more the focus on the actors with increased screen time. Also, me being the greedy actor I felt this is a great opportunity and has better scope to perform when compared to other films that I do.
Thank You Brother deals with a situation of crisis wherein the carefree spoiled brat played by Viraj Ashwin ends up helping a woman. We currently are in a pandemic dealing with a global healthcare crisis. So, do you think crisis leads people to become a better version of themselves?
Change is inevitable. We change with time, with experience, with the circumstances around us and nobody is the same person as yesterday. I can't speak for everyone but I think the crisis "should" change people for good because unless we are in this together, accept the realities, we cannot overcome it. In my circle and workspace, people did change for good. People are more empathetic and friendly now, without any hesitations or obligations.
Going back to your roles like ACP Jaya in Kshanam or Rangamma Atta in Rangasthalam and some other roles, these are characters that are strong and independent. Are you consciously drawn to such characters because somewhere they reflect as an extension of your own personality?
I get asked this question many times in the interviews. I think it is the conscious effort made by the filmmakers while casting. Maybe they somewhere count me in for such strong characters. I never made a conscious choice to only choose such characters. Subconsciously, maybe I liked the fact that the character is very strong. Somewhere I want every woman to be like that because in spite of changing scenarios, women still are the suppressed gender. I find cinema as a very powerful media which has a major impact on people. So, in a way I feel I contribute some social responsibility by playing these characters. On top of it, I am confident that I can portray such characters as I have similar traits in life.
One of your Instagram captions quotes, "Dance is the favourite language of my soul. I'm not a great dancer but I feel great when I dance." What does dance mean to you and how important is it for an adult to keep their interests alive?
If not taking it as preaching, I would say, "Don't let anybody tell you, you can't do something. Be a lister but pick what is right for you." – is what I have always believed and followed. One must have a bunch of stress bursters in the form of interests or hobbies. Time and again one must indulge into them and be very normal. I am fortunate because I get to do (dance) what many people dream about and also get paid for it. Of course, there are pros and cons to everything as it comes as a package of both. However, I feel gratified and enjoy being here. Unlike the conventional talk that people say a female artiste's career ends with marriage and kids, mine began after it.
You're playing the character of an expecting mother in Thank You Brother. How do you perceive motherhood?
It means everything. It means hope, purpose and meaning to life. I see my children and I hope for tomorrow. It gives you purpose to make this place a better world, that's why I am very vocal about things which are not right. It's a blessing and a responsibility to make a better future.
What is the suggestion you'd give for a fresher who is trying to break into the industry?
Have clarity about yourself. Don't just go with flow, burst the bubble and come out of it. It always takes a little more effort to discover what you want to be or get that clarity of how you want to be. So, go that extra mile. Most importantly, never lose hope and believe in yourself.
Tell us more about your upcoming film projects.
Besides, Thank You Brother the following is my line up. In Khiladi, I am in a traditional avatar and am growing fond of it because again I am going to surprise people. Ranga Marthanda, is a remake of the marathi blockbuster film, Natsamrat and is special in a way that I got the opportunity to work with my favourite director Krishna Vamsi gaaru. Me and Sukku sir have planned to blow people's minds with what Pushpa has in store for me. As a project on the whole, Pushpa will be a film that Telugu audiences will be proud of. I am also a part of a web series along with Niharika Konidela. And I am working in a Tamil film which will be my debut in that industry and am doing my debut in Malayalam industry with mega star Mammotty in Bheeshma Parvam and that will be an experience for life.