How do you encapsulate one-and-half decades in showbiz, and that too, of a rank outsider? And just as we contemplate on that question, she makes her way towards us, as we ready our sets to talk to her in a star hotel in Hyderabad on a sunny Thursday morning.
The confidence she radiates is evidently visible in the way she walks. As she seats herself next to us, smiling, she begins browsing her phone patiently awaiting our questions for her.
That’s Anjali for you! Straddling a career across four different languages, with over forty films in her kitty, she is unabashed when she slowly corrects us, “Forty-eight films, to be precise.”
Starting off on that note — of precision and clarity — she, nevertheless, confesses that she’s still struggling ‘how to say no’ to a script in the industry.
“If I say ‘No’ upfront to a film, people think I am arrogant and have an attitude,” she quips with a chuckle. “At the same time I cannot say yes to a script that I don’t like, so I am still figuring my way around that.”
All said and done, she has no regrets, for her journey in the industry, she says, has been very satisfying. “I have learnt everything on the sets, and I am blessed to be enjoying such longevity in showbiz,” she elaborates.
“As a newcomer, I’d never imagined I’d last as long. But all thanks to the filmmakers who believed in me and wrote characters for me, and of course the audience who appreciated me.” Of course, the actress does not shy away from giving her constant hard work and approach to work the due credit for her long stint.
New roles waiting
Anjali has been carrying several tags, such as ‘the girl next door’ and ‘bubbly girl’, for a long time essentially because of the roles she took up early in her career. Now, she reveals that it was indeed challenging for her to shed that image.
“Perhaps filmmakers have been offering me such roles, and it was challenging to negate such offers and further introduce the believability factor that I am game for intense roles,” she explains. However, she’s glad things have changed over the last few years.
“My cop character in the 2020-film Nishabdham and my intense role in the forthcoming Pawan Kalyan-starrer Vakeel Saab are a step in that direction,” she tells us.
“As an actor, I’d love to explore all roles. So while I’d still relish being part of love stories and family drama, the script has to be something out-of-the-box for me to pick it up,” adds the actress pointing out that she wants to do more intense and author-back roles.
Speaking of Vakeel Saab which was very enriching, we wonder what Anjali, who’s worked with the likes of Mahesh Babu, Allu Arjun, Venkatesh and Ravi Teja thinks of Pawan. But she is matter-of-fact when she calls him a cool co-actor.
“I think it’s his humility that makes him a superstar. In fact, his ‘no qualms of rehearsing’ approach stand out,” says Anjali.
From films and her career trajectory, we decide it is safe to move gears to her personal life — her outlooks, plans, etc. For starters, we point out to her, that especially having been part of several love stories, it’s surprising she hasn’t yet fallen in love in real life.
“Please don’t ask anything about my personal life,” she states immediately. But soon after she relents and allows us to ask her a few.
And then without revealing any identity, she admits that she was in a relationship.
“But unfortunately that did not materialise,” she comments saying that she had a tough time dealing with the breakup.
“Just because we are heroines doesn’t mean that we are stone-hearted. It took some time for me to get over that phase. It was a very challenging phase. But I drew inspiration from my mother. I have seen her struggle so I was determined not to let the situation get the better of me.”
Heartbreak hasn’t, however, destroyed her belief in love. “But it has to happen organically,” she says, adding, “but right, now my focus is on my work. I’ve been getting interesting characters to play, so I want to continue doing the good work. Marriage is something that can wait.”