• Saturday, July 13, 2024


Adah Sharma: Big controversial story clash

The Indian actress on her fearless approach and provocative new film

Adah Sharma

By: Mohnish Singh

BEING fearless with her choices has enabled Adah Sharma to surprise audiences with each role she takes on.

She recently followed up controversial super hit 2023 movie The Kerala Story by teaming up with the same creative team for the equally provocative Bastar: The Naxal Story. The political thriller set against the backdrop of the Naxalite movement in India recently premiered on streaming site ZEE5 Global, after its cinema release earlier this year.

Eastern Eye caught up with the actress to discuss her film and the controversies surrounding her recent choices. She also spoke about challenging times, dark phases, and why she believes this is a good time for actors.

How do you feel now Bastar: The Naxal Story is available on streaming site ZEE5 Global?

I am excited because the film is in everyone’s houses. People who complained of not being able to see it in a theatre near them, since it didn’t get a proper release, can watch it whenever they feel like.

Are you disappointed that Bastar: The Naxal Story didn’t get the thunderous response of The Kerala Story?

No. Actually, I have never got so much love for any character that I’ve played. The Kerala Story, of course, brought a lot of appreciation, but the praise and adulation I got for Bastar: The Naxal Story was way more than even The Kerala Story and Sunflower (a ZEE5 Global web series).

The Kerala Story and Bastar: The Naxal Story were termed as propaganda films by a section of the audience and media.

I was so happy with the amount of love that we were getting. The Kerala Story became the highest grossing female-led film of all time, and every day, it was making some new records. You know, some critics didn’t even watch the film and messaged my director saying, “We didn’t watch the film, but we hated it”. Oh, wow!

How did do you feel about that?

If you didn’t watch the film and hated it, you are allowed to because we live in a free country. We don’t live in the place where The Kerala Story was shot, where you’re not allowed to have different opinions. Here in my country, you’re allowed to think differently. You’re allowed to not like my films. People are giving us free love. So, if one or two people want to hate it, they should be allowed to do so.

What are the biggest challenges faced by women in the entertainment industry?

If I have to start, I’ll have to write a thesis. We live in a world that only has challenges. It depends on what you’re going to take as a challenge or not. For me, I’m living my dreams. I’m getting to act in movies and do what I love. I wake up every morning and live my dream. Even then if you want to look for challenges, that’s almost like looking for trouble and being ungrateful. I think you’ll get into a depression or a dark space if you look at things as hardships and challenges.

Have you ever experienced depression and dark phases?

Yeah, plenty of times. When I started off, I didn’t know how I was gonna get my next film. I got rejected for so many things. After I did the film 1920, I got great reviews, love from audiences and made it a hit. I expected to be flooded with offers, but it didn’t happen. Then I signed some projects but got replaced. So, there have been dark phases, but I try to keep it as short lived as possible. I do get into dark phases while shooting for films also.

 What do you mean by that?

The Kerala Story and Baster are dark films. When you shoot those, you can’t be in a very bright space because your whole head space is researching or doing character development for something in a dark, depressing and violent world. That is when I get into dark spaces. I try to get out of them as soon as possible. I try to play the piano or flute and walk around in nature.

How do you select which film genres to take on?

I take up roles that I feel I’m gonna enjoy doing for the next six months. The next thing I’m doing is in a lighter space. Comedy is definitely something I really enjoy.

If you could swap lives with any character you have portrayed, who would it be?

Oh my god! I don’t want to be possessed, so not 1920. The Kerala Story, definitely not. I’m not going to Syria. Sunflower, I wouldn’t mind, but that would be problematic for everybody else. So, yeah, maybe Rosie from Sunflower. To be honest, I really don’t want to be anyone whom I have played.

 If your life was a Bollywood movie, what genre would it be, and who would play the lead role, besides you?

The genre would likely be Mary Poppins, fictional, fairy tale fantasy. I would definitely cast a very talented new girl, who doesn’t have any film background. I would hold fair auditions and give the best actress the role.

Lead inset Adah Sharma in Bastar The Naxal Story 1
A still from Bastar: The Naxal Story

If you could time travel to any Bollywood era, which one would it be?

Oh, here right now. I think this is the best time. I’ve spoken to so many yesteryear actresses, and they shot in such difficult conditions. There were no vanity vans or proper places for costume changes. Their mother would hold one blanket and the hairdresser would hold another corner for them to change. Our leading ladies from the past looked so glamorous and beautiful with the most difficult conditions. You can’t even imagine what they have gone through.

 Which Bollywood actors would you like to be stranded on a deserted island with and how would you entertain yourselves until rescue arrives?

I’m very good at entertaining myself. I love being alone, so I would choose some separate part of this island. I’m very good at being incognito and hiding. I would hang by myself. When I see the rescue boat arrive, I would share it with all of them, and then we can all go back.

 If you were to write a Bollywood-inspired self help book, what would the title be and what advice would you give in it?

It would be titled Be You. It would be a 580-page book. It would all have blank pages. Because I don’t think anyone can give advice about Bollywood. You have to figure it out for yourself. Everyone’s path is different. You can’t draw or follow somebody else’s. You have to draw your own path and figure out the way yourself. It’s not like a map that’s one for all.

Is there any recent film or show that has really impacted you?

I watched this show Baby Reindeer. It was disturbing and haunting. However, it’s been very well made, I must say.

What are your forthcoming projects?

There’s an international film and something else in the comedy genre. Then there is another realistic film, but I think I’ll wait till the trailers are ready, and announcements are made, instead of just loosely speaking about them. I’ve done a few projects that are ready for release, which were actually shot even before The Kerala Story. When I know that they are being released, I’ll talk about them.

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