Only the starry-eyed trivia junkie will know this, but the first time audiences actually saw actor Anushka Sharma on the big screen was at least two years before she made her Bollywood debut. I nudge her for a fact-check, and Sharma laughs, “Yeah. It was in [Rajkumar Hirani’s 2006 film] Lage Raho Munna Bhai.” She features in the in-film branding for the now-defunct radio station, WorldSpace Radio. “Those hoardings used to be all over Bengaluru. Someone spotted the ad in the film, and told me about it. I had no idea!”
Only eight years later, Sharma would play the lead in Hirani’s Aamir Khan-starrer, PK (2014). On the sets, Hirani would even dig out a video of Sharma auditioning for his previous Aamir-starrer 3 Idiots (2009). The director said he’d had no clue that she had read for Kareena Kapoor Khan’s part, because her tape had not made it to the final round.
Sharma was a professional model back then. “Elite [the modelling agency that had signed her] had sent me to a casting director, where I read lines from Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003). It didn’t go anywhere,” she says. Sharma had a similar progression with director Zoya Akhtar—she played the lead, opposite Ranveer Singh, in her 2015 family drama, Dil Dhadakne Do, after coming close to and then losing a part in Akhtar’s directorial debut, Luck By Chance, in 2009. “I was one of the final two actors who were shortlisted for Isha Sharvani’s role.”
Suit, Mary Katrantzou. Shirt, Versace. Shoes, Christian Louboutin
Photograph: Tibi Clenci
Styling: Rahul Vijay
Make-up: Subhash Vagal
Hair: Yanni Sapatori