In September last year, Sanjjanaa was named as one of the accused in the infamous Sandalwood Drug Case. After undergoing a trying year and a half, the actress has been working hard at settling back in life. Signalling changing times, she has signed a multilingual film, for which she has even commenced shooting for in Hyderabad. We caught up with the actress to get the low-down on how she handled the year that went by.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Q You have gone through a rather hard phase in your life. What were your realisations?
I want neither friends nor relatives in my life anymore; all of them turned out to be gold-diggers. Do you know that I’d cleared the hospital bill of one of my friends when his daughter was born? And yet the other day, he became a fake witness in my case. Even my relatives have been trying to be sweet with me since I came out of this. But my family has always been supportive. From now on, I want to make work my friend as my complete focus is on films now.
Q What were you going through when all of this started?
Initially, I was shattered and dejected. I was clueless about what was happening and was shocked to see what was being written about me. In fact, at one point, while watching the news I wondered, ‘Is it about me?’ The whole episode has been an eye-opener and has taught me life lessons. Certain people try to harm others but they can’t do it forever. Harming is temporary; blessings are permanent. But life’s good now.
Q What did it take for you to come out of the traumatic episode?
Prayers kept me strong; I am a changed person now. I have been practicing yoga for the longest time, so yoga gave me psychological strength. I try to be neutral and don’t get carried away with successes and don’t get into a shell because of a failure. This attitude has helped me in coming back. Also, I’ve been working ever since I was 12, so situations have taught me to come back strongly from any corner alone. I can fight it out, and I don’t need sympathy. I have been dragged into the controversy needlessly because I am a celeb. But I believe in the law and respect the judiciary. The truth will ultimately prevail. In the meantime, I’ve put on around 10 kilos, out of which I have lost 5 kg since I began working out.
Q Given that you started working in life rather early, how do you reflect on your journey?
Before coming into films, I was part of more than 100 commercials. So looking back, the journey has been gratifying because I did everything on my own. I’ve seen highs and lows, but sustaining for so many years in the film industry has been a blessing.
Q You always wanted your marriage to be a low key affair.
In October 2018, I’d gotten engaged to Azeez Pasha, who’s a cardiovascular surgeon based in Bengaluru. Back then, I’d wanted to get married in one of the best places in India, and hoped to invite guests from all over.
But the pandemic broke out just as I was planning the wedding. Then this entire episode played out. After the incident, I realised that some of those I was hoping to invite for my wedding were among the gold-diggers in my life. I’d started my foundation during this pandemic and have been doing my bit to alleviate the sufferings of people.
Soon, however, the expenses started piling up and I had to break my fixed deposits (FDs) in the bank. Also, I had to spend a bomb for my lawyer fee. I eventually ran out of my savings. In fact, my husband had to clear some of my foundation bills. [Smiles softly]
Q You and Pasha had been seeing each other for 13 years?
I first saw him in a hospital in Bengaluru in 2006. I went as one of the guests to celebrate the hospital’s ceremonial day. And it was love at first sight for me as I walked the ramp with him. And you know what, my face turned red instantly when I saw another model trying to get close to him. I wondered why it’s happening, but then I quickly realised it was love. Our friendship developed into love. Neither of us proposed to each other because we both had the same feelings. Our respective families also know about us. But I was the one who made the first move for marriage. I asked him, ‘When are we getting married?’ And he then replied, ‘Soon’. So finally, we got married towards the end of 2020.
Q How has life been after marriage and how supportive has your husband been?
I feel companionship is a must, and Pasha has been the pillar of my strength. My in-laws too were supportive as they’ve known me for a long time, too. Honestly, without their support, I would’ve perhaps struggled to come out of this.
Q Tell us about Manishankar, your upcoming film?
Manishankar is a multilingual philosophical thriller, in which I play Sharanya, it’s an intense character. I can’t talk about my role much, but I can share that I am done with 80% of the work.