‘There's Nothing Called Nepotism’: Anuj Sharma Defends Heeramandi Co-Star Sharmin Segal As She Gets Trolled For Her Acting

‘There's Nothing Called Nepotism’: Anuj Sharma Defends Heeramandi Co-Star Sharmin Segal As She Gets Trolled For Her Acting

Anuj Sharma spills the beans on Heeramandi, his hat-trick with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, nepotism in Bollywood, and more

Manisha KarkiUpdated: Wednesday, May 22, 2024, 05:34 PM IST
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Anuj Sharma |

Actor Anuj Sharma, best known for his roles in films and web series such as Padmaavat, Gangubai Kathiawadi, Special OPS, Undekhi, Madhuri Talkies, State of Siege 26/11, and more, has now created waves with his character Hamid in the period drama series Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar. 

In an exclusive conversation with The Free Press Journal, Anuj opens up about the series, working with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, nepotism in Bollywood, and more. 

How did you come on board for the series?

I got a call from Heermandi for an audition. I was rejected at first, but then again I received a call. I met Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and he called me his lucky charm in front of everyone. It was a magical moment for me.

How did you prepare for your monologue?

I just had five minutes to prepare for a 15-minute monologue as Hamid. It felt like a make-it-or-break-it moment, but I nailed it in one take. They called me and said, ‘hat-trick mubarak ho.’

How was the experience working with Bhansali?  Did you get any rewards from him? 

As an actor, I can work with Sanjay sir my entire life. He usually never gets angry with me, but this was the first time he was. I was upset but then we shot the scene, and he was happy with the result. I always wanted him to be around whenever we shoot. So one day when I came, I had a scene with Aditi Rao Hydari, and he was upset with me two days before. That day, he called me and said, ‘Anuj, aapka kaam bahot aacha lagta hai mujhe’ and it was a big thing for me. 

How was it filming with Taha Shah Badussha and Aditi Rao Hydari? 

I had a fantastic scene with Taha in the series, which received a lot of praise. It was a challenging scene to shoot due to a crowd of 400-500 people, but it turned out great. Working with Taha and Aditi was a pleasure. Aditi is already a star, and Taha is very hard-working. 

What would you say about Sharmin Segal’s ‘expressionless’ acting being trolled on social media?

It is not necessary to have an expression every time. Sharmin has given her 100 per cent. She is carrying the entire load of the series on her shoulders. It is not a small series, it’s one of the most expensive shows in Asia, directed by the world's best director, and is released worldwide. People are against her because of nepotism. There has been talks about nepotism for the past five years. I've been in the industry for 27 years and my family has sacrificed a lot for my career. Even they have equal rights to my success. There's nothing called nepotism. If you don’t look at her as Sanjay sir’s niece but a new girl who has entered the industry, you cannot feel flaws in her work. You will love her work. I have no problems with that.

⁠Netizens have pointed out many mistakes in the series on social media; What is your take on that? 

Even if it’s right, I would say, ‘Chand mein bhi daag hota hai, taki nazar na lage itni khoobsurat chiz ko.’ It’s just a cinema for entertainment purposes. There are many beautiful things in the series that can be seen. You cannot repeat reality, no matter how big the director is. No one copies reality as it is, so these kinds of faults can be there in any cinema.

Netizens even claim Heera Mandi is glorified in the series. Do you think it is a justified version? 

When you are small and you look at a tree, you feel the tree is big. As you grow, you become taller, and your thoughts and perspective become bigger. Now, for you, that tree looks small. Similarly, Heera Mandi was beautiful for people who used to stay there. Now it has lost its glory since it’s been years. We tried to show the beauty of Heera Mandi in the series.

Which are the directors you would like to work with in the future? 

I want to work with all the directors who worked with Irrfan Khan. I want to take on roles that people think I can't do, that reflect the common man's dreams and struggles. I want to leave behind a cinematic legacy that will be studied in colleges. 

⁠What are your plans next? 

I have a lot of things in the process. I’m meeting people and have three upcoming films to be announced soon.

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