When younger, Anushka Sharma would find her brother Karnesh irritating. Today, they have teamed up to create magic on screen with their second production Phillauri
Our conversation begins with some guy talk. Anushka Sharma’s brother, Karnesh, enquires about the mid-day mate. “I remember it used to be popular,” he says. A shocked Anushka is clueless about what her brother is talking about. When told it is a photograph of a sexy girl in a bikini, she quickly says, “Why isn’t there a picture of a man too?” It’s a hot afternoon and we are at Anushka’s home in Versova. In a tete-a-tete with the siblings, who are ready with their second production Phillauri, we talk about filmmaking and bonding.
Karnesh Sharma and Anushka Sharma
Your first production venture NH10 (2015) was a thriller which was critically-acclaimed. Did people approach you with scripts of the same genre?
Karnesh: Yes. It was not only newcomers, but established directors and writers as well who pitched womencentric thrillers or about a woman avenging her husband’s death.
Anushka: It’s funny because people should understand we will not make a film on the same subject again. Even as an actor, I do not. NH10 and Phillauri are such diverse films. We’re trying to create different and new content.
What comes to your mind when people say womencentric film? Do you identify with the term?
Anushka: I don’t identify with it because stories are about people. It can be a male or female protagonist. Phillauri is about a ghost; it is her love story. A woman-centric film is not always about strength, substance or fighting society.
Karnesh: It is only here that we talk about woman-centric films. It doesn’t happen in Hollywood or European cinema. People are aware of telling stories with women as the protagonist; that’s why there is a debate about women-centric films.
Phillauri deals with mangliks who are considered unfavourable for marriage? Do you believe in it?
Anushka: Karnesh is a manglik and I told him to get married to a tree for the film’s promotions and he refused [laughs].
Karnesh: Not for film promotions [laughs]! On a serious note, I don’t believe in it.
Anushka, do you find your brother annoying?
Anushka: There was a time when I would get irritated, but it was when I was younger. We would complain to our parents , but today we respect and accept each other .
Karnesh: I like how we are today, and not when we were younger. I am enjoying what we are doing. I wish it had came a little earlier in life, but probably we wouldn’t have had the same understanding of each other. So, I guess everything has the right time.
How were you as kids? Anushka, being younger, would you always get away with tantrums?
Karnesh: I had more tantrums than her.
Anushka: I remember when I was seven, he coaxed me to ask my parents for a video game as a birthday gift. I was least interested in it. He told me, “Bahut mazza aayega saath main khelenge.” I never saw the joystick of the game even once.
Karnesh: I have been manipulative, but now I am making up for it.
Karnesh, you were in the merchant navy. What made you get into film production?
Karnesh: I got bored of sailing. People think it’s a cool job and you get to travel the world, but that’s not the case. There were times when I was working for almost 20 hours a day. I thought if I continue, I will remain alone all my life. Maneesh Sharma was directing Shudh Desi Romance (2013) and he suggested I should try it out with him.
Anushka: Maneesh directed me in Band Baaja Baraat (2010). Whenever I make friends, I make sure they meet my brother because I don’t know how to carry on friendships [laughs]. I am socially inept. Whenever Maneesh would write a script, he would call Karnesh as he has good judgement and gives an honest opinion. In fact, Adi [Aditya Chopra] has called him on several occasions too.
Anushka, you have starred in both your productions. Would you plan a film without starring in it?
Anushka: Of course. By God’s grace, I am doing well in my career, so I don’t need my production house to make films for myself. If I don’t fit into the scheme of things, I will not.
Karnesh: Scripts are not written keeping Anushka in mind. We don’t write scripts keeping any particular actor in mind.
What are your plans for the future?
Anushka: To be able to make the kind of films we want to. We have great ideas and plans. We don’t look for other people’s mistakes and what our action should be.
Karnesh: We are pursuing our dreams and we aren’t going to change our plans according to others.