The Bollywood industry churns out a record number of films every year. A lot of leading actors and actresses feature in these films. But interestingly, only a select few actors out of these can be called crowd pullers. The unfortunate fact is that when it comes to actresses, the number is even less. Till the 90s and early 2000s, we had a lot of actresses whose presence added a lot to the film’s buzz. At present, we have a handful of heroines that fit in this category. And one such artist is Anushka Sharma, who turns 33 today. A conversation on present-day popular actresses of Bollywood is incomplete without her. She’s mentioned in the same breath as Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt.
Only actress with 3 Rs. 300 crore grossers
And why not? She has worked in 19 films and her box office track record is praiseworthy. Three of her biggest hits were with a Khan each – Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (with Shah Rukh Khan), PK (with Aamir Khan) and Sultan (with Salman Khan). She is the only actress to have 3 films in the Rs. 300 crore club – PK, Sultan and Sanju. Her films like Band Baaja Baaraat, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil were not huge box office grossers. But she was highly memorable in each of these films and it contributed significantly to her fan following. In fact, her performance in Band Baaja Baaraat is one of the most memorable performances by a female actor in a long time.
First to jump into production; Launchpad for talented newcomers
However, she is adored and respected not just for her box office success but also for many other factors. She emerged as a trendsetter multiple times. Today, many actresses have got into film production. But in 2014, she was the first among her contemporaries to do so. Her first production, NH10 (2015), was a gritty thriller and gave her a chance to do unconventional cinema. Last year, she received a lot of applause as she unveiled her first web series, Paatal Lok. The Amazon Prime original is easily one of the most watched Hindi shows of all time and it made Jaideep Ahlawat into an overnight sensation.
Which brings us to another USP of Anushka – she gives genuinely talented people a chance to shine. Paatal Lok was followed by the Netflix original film, Bulbbul, which was headlined by a relatively new actress, Tripti Dimri. Her upcoming OTT film, Qala, also features Tripti and serves as the debut vehicle of Irrfan Khan’s son Babil. She also launched new directors like Prosit Roy, Anshai Lal and Anvita Dutt.
A dummy’s guide on breaking stereotypes and on getting the paparazzi to toe the line
Later, when she tied the knot in 2017 with Virat Kohli, she was credited as the actor to commence the shaadi season in Bollywood. Sonam K Ahuja, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra Jonas soon followed suit, within a year. Just before 2020 ended, she began another trend as she proudly flaunted her baby bump for a magazine shoot. In times of troll, this picture got applause from most netizens and even amassed record likes.
Earlier this year, she gave birth to a baby girl, who was named Vamika. Till date, not a single picture of her is out and there’s a reason for that. 2 days after she gave birth, Anushka Sharma and hubby Virat Kohli sent out gifts to the paparazzi. The hamper carried a personalized note with a request that the pictures of their child should not be clicked. The photographers obviously were touched and promised to respect their privacy. This gesture left everyone amazed as nobody had ever tried this idea. Her pregnancy announcement tweet was adjudged by Twitter as the most liked post of 2020. This speaks volumes about her popularity and this also makes it clear that there must be a tremendous pressure on the photographers to share a glimpse of Vamika. But the fact that the power couple ensured that they don’t is truly commendable.
Anxiety and controversies
Deepika Padukone opening up about depression gave a huge boost to the mental health movement in India. However, just weeks before Deepika’s confession, Anushka had admitted that she suffers from anxiety and that her family has a history of depression. “I’m on medication for my anxiety. Why am I saying this? Because it’s a completely normal thing,” she said at a time when actors would shy away from speaking on such issues.
Anushka Sharma has however got into controversies from time to time but none of them affected her brand or image in any way. Credit goes to her as she dealt with it gracefully and in most cases, kept a dignified silence instead of hitting out at faceless, nameless trolls on the internet and thereby fanning the fire. That’s the reason why one thinks of Anushka, her controversies don’t come to mind instantly. The same can’t be said about other actors in her age bracket.
Wanted: Anushka’s comeback on the silver screen
Hence, it’s no wonder that she is today one of the topmost actresses, not just due to her on-screen performances but also for how she is off-screen. Her last film as an actor was Zero (2018), which released almost 2 ½ years back. It starred Shah Rukh Khan and fans have been eagerly waiting for his next film. However, we should not forget that just like SRK, even Anushka has been missing from celluloid for a long time. Of course, it’ll be difficult for her to face the arclights immediately as she has taken on the duty of being a mother. However, with Kareena Kapoor Khan making a comeback in films 1 ½ years after giving birth to Taimur, one can’t help but wish if Anushka can also follow Bebo’s footsteps. But then, even before motherhood and marriage, she was choosy. So after marriage, maybe her acting ventures would be few and far between? Only time will tell. And anyway, when has she walked into anyone’s footsteps; she’s a trendsetter after all!
However, as an Anushka Sharma admirer and as someone who loves when heroines pull audiences pan-India to cinemas, I still wish that she comes across a script that blows her away and compels her to face the camera soon. Fingers crossed!
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