ANJALI’s ACE ACT
She is living her dream and gracefully shimmying her way to the top. In an exclusive conversation with Sashidhar Adivi, actress Anajali reflects on her showbiz journey, first ever item number with Allu Arjun and working with Balakrishna.
She can be described as an actress of substance who breathes life into every character she essays on screen and soon you tend to forget that she is an actress playing the character. Anjali laughs off the compliment and says her passion for work drives her to live the roles. “Initially, like everyone, I was naive but as I grew up I learnt a lot with experience, hence the end product looks effortless,” she confides. She was seen in a special role as ‘Phoolan Devi’ in the recently released Telugu film ‘Shankarabharanam’, directed by Uday Nandanavanam. “It was not a blink and miss appearance but a role that had substance. Initially, when Kona Venkat (the film’s writer and producer) approached me for the role, I was excited about it. Later, he told me that I play a gangster, and I was like, ‘Sir, I look like the girl-next-door, so who’ll believe me as a gangster from Bihar (laughs)?’ But he convinced me,” Anjali explains. Interestingly, filming a song on Anjali was an after-thought. “Kona later said that he wanted to extend my role by adding a song. And when I heard the track I knew it would be a hit number because of the foot-tapping composition. Holding a gun and enacting the mannerisms of a typical Bihar gangster was thrilling and I had great time shooting for it,” she exults.
Anjali’s dual roles in a horror comedy `Geethanjali’ had her fans asking for more and now, she’s looking forward to regaling with her new avatar. She recently shot for her first ever item number opposite Allu Arjun in his forthcoming Telugu film ‘Sarainodu’. “Director Boyapati Sreenu approached me and narrated the context and exclusivity of the song. He was keen on someone who dances and expresses well, and he roped me in. The uniqueness of the track ensured that I gave-in to his demand. It’s not the usual masala number where a girl comes and sizzles. I had to lot more than that,” is her take on turning an item girl.
Giving a sneak peek into the number, Anjali says, “I think the audience will get to see a very expressive side of me. It comes at an interesting juncture and the significance of my part in it impressed me the most. It is one of the most expensive songs in the recent times. My costumes and styling will be very different. You’ll see me wearing a mix of both western and Indian outfits. Since this is my first item number and that too with Bunny, it makes it even more special.”
The actress admits that matching the dance moves of Allu Arjun, who is regarded as one of the best dancers, was challenging. “It took me a while to pick up the moves. I rehearsed quite well for the number but since Bunny (Allu Arjun) is super fast, it was tough and challenging to match him. He is very sweet and encouraged me to pull off some stunning moves (smiles). The entire unit trusted me, encouraged me and boosted my confidence to give my best. I totally enjoyed working and the song has come out superbly,” she beams.
Anjali has worked with some of the biggest names in Tollywood like Mahesh Babu, Venkatesh, Ravi Teja and she’s paired opposite Nandamuri Balakrishna for the first time in her latest Telugu release ‘Dictator’. It’s clear that she values the experience of working with the Nandamuri scion and can’t stop raving about him. “Working with Balakrishna has been an amazing and enriching experience. He’s one of the best in the business and working with him was a delight. I’ve learnt quite a few things from him like approach to the camera, discipline and of course, matching his comic timing has definitely enhanced my skills too. He’s down to earth despite such stardom, and treats everyone with equal respect on the sets,” states Anjali, who’ll be seen in a bilingual thriller ‘Chitrangada’ and another Tamil film ‘Peranbu’.
Despite acting in nearly 40 films across the South, stardom seems to be elusive to the ‘Angaadi Theru’ girl. Pointing that out to her did dampen her spirits but she is quick to respond, “Not really! My career graph in Tamil and Telugu has always been settled since I’ve been doing films consistently. My market in Telugu has also gotten bigger post ‘Geethanjali’ and I started taking up female-centric projects and show role versatility. I always wanted to be an actress but not a glam prop. Acting is my passion and I love doing various roles. I’m enjoying what I’m doing and believe in doing films based on the script and my role and wish to be remembered for my roles.”
Recently social media was abuzz that Anjali will be seen in the role of a transgender in her next Tamil film ‘Peranbu’, starring Mammootty. The actress quashes these reports, “I’ve seen messages on the social media and also saw a few channels airing such reports but I would like to clarify that my role is not that of a transgender and I am not paired opposite Mammootty.” So what does she play then? “No, I can’t talk or reveal about my role now, but definitely not a transgender,” smiles Anjali, adding, “It’s a great honour to work with Mammootty and I’m all excited and looking forward to shoot with the Malayalam star the film’s director Ram.” Good going, Anjali!