Anushka Shetty is celebrating her 41st birthday today. Born Sweety Shetty, she never wanted to become an actor. Instead, she nurtured the ambition of pursuing a career in medicine. Her father, however, talked her out of it. She later became a yoga instructor in Mumbai. And when the opportunity to act in a movie knocked at her door, she was not willing to answer. She even went so far as to do everything to sabotage the chance of becoming a film actor.
“I remember the first time I had to meet him (Puri Jagannadh). I was supposed to call him and meet him in Mumbai. I was very nervous and I didn’t call him. And I told everyone that I called him but his phone was switched off. I didn’t want to do it, so I lied,” Anushka revealed during a conversation with director Gautham Vasudev Menon earlier.
When Puri Jagannadh was in Mumbai again, giving into the pressure of her well-wishers and friends, she half-heartedly agreed to meet the director. “Then I was wearing my yoga clothes. My friends asked me to dress up because I was going to meet a director. I said, no, I am not going to dress up. This is who I am and this is how I’m gonna go. And maybe because of that, I got selected because I had to play a tomboy in the movie,” she revealed in the same conversation.
Anushka made her screen debut in 2005 with Super, starring Tollywood star Nagarjuna in the lead.
Stranger to the ways of functioning of the film industry, she also recalled that she gave her passport-size photo to Puri when he asked for her portfolio. And she believes it was her destiny to get into the profession that she never knew she wanted. “I’m very glad. When I got into movies, I hated it for almost a year and a half. I thought I’m already here, so let me learn what it is all about. I (recently) had the realization that I’m someone who being in movies keeps me alive. I’m someone who lives in the world of my own. For the first time, I thought that maybe life really knows what I need deep down inside and that’s why it put me in movies,” she explained.
Anushka also encouraged women who aspire to work in movies to follow their dreams without worrying about the negative image that surrounds the film industry. “It’s one of the safest places. People think there are a lot of things that happen here. If people open their eyes, it happens everywhere. I don’t think it has anything to do with the profession. It has to do with your own choices. Any good or bad that happened to me in the last 10 years, has been my choice,” she added.
Anushka also rubbished the myth of life being easy for actors after achieving star status. “People think that once you become a star, everything will be fine. That’s the biggest lie,” she said while underlining the importance of being a “quick learner” in the film industry.
“There is no space for being lazy. The film industry is a spiritually rich place. Either you will lose yourself if you don’t work hard. Maybe you will be out. Or you will just keep growing,” she said.
If you are aware of Anushka’s filmography, you know she is telling the truth. She has never let the industry box her into a particular image. She has not limited herself to doing eye candy roles. She has repeatedly shattered the stereotypes that were imposed on her. She changed and redefined her career with her performance in Arundhati (2009). The film made her a force to reckon with as it created a market for Anushka’s solo performance.
At the height of her career, she made an unconventional choice of playing the role of a prostitute in Vedam (2010). The film again proved she has more to offer as an actor. She did Rudrama Devi (2015) when the period historical drama was not the buzzword of the box office business. It came out just a few months after Baahubali: The Beginning and became a huge hit at the box office. She also gained a whopping 20 kg in her body weight to play an overweight girl in Size Zero (2015).
Anushka has never shied away from taking risks. However, she has reached a point in her career where there seems to be no indication of what she will do next. It remains to be seen how she will reinvent herself, once again.