Anushka Sharma Shook Up The Boys Club With Paatal Lok And Bulbbul
This year has definitely been Anushka Sharma’s year. The actress and her husband, Virat Kohli made it to a list of the world’s top Instagram influencers which was compiled by global data collection and analysis platform, Hype Auditor. Earlier this year, Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma had announced that they are expecting a baby. The couple celebrated their third wedding anniversary last week.
But that’s not why we say that 2020 belonged to Anushka Sharma. The actress entered the boy’s club of producers and made some serious courageous choices. This year, she served as an executive producer on Amazon Prime Video’s uber-successful crime thriller series, Paatal Lok which has been ranked the best Hindi-language series of 2020 by both HuffPost India and The Indian Express. Starring Jaideep Ahlawat, Gul Panag, Ishwak Singh, Abhishek Banerjee and Swastika Mukherjee in the lead roles, the series took viewers through a host of issues – from workplace harassment, corruption in the highest echelons of the government, casteist oppression, child abuse, women’s safety and discrimination against transgender people in India. To nobody’s surprise, the BJP accused the show of being “anti-national” in numerous ways and the youth wing of the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, Bharatiya Yuva Gorkha demanded the series be banned.
Ishwak Singh’s law-abiding, soft-spoken Muslim character is a wide-eyed idealist who has to constantly deal with his religion becoming a topic of conversation amongst his colleagues – one of them even goes on to say that he need not worry about getting into the civil services as he’ll be accepted in through the minority quota. Singh’s Imran Ansari cares more about the country that most of his fellows do.
Then, of course, there is Bulbbul which is a personal favourite. Written and directed by Anvita Dutt and produced by Anushka Sharma and Karnesh Ssharma, the film is a feminist fairy tale that is as visually beautiful as it is socially relevant. Tripti Dimri shines as the lead character and her transition from naive child-bride to avenging angel is a masterclass in acting. Bulbbul isn’t a story of pain and anguish but a story of a woman rising amidst all the obstacles that patriarchy places on her path. Dimri’s Bulbbul isn’t your typical heroine, one might even argue that she is more of a villainess but Dutt makes no attempt at cleaning up that image. It released on Netflix on the 24th of June this year but we still want to inject the theme song directly into our veins – thank you, Amit Trivedi.
Sharma’s Clean Slate Filmz has earlier produced NH10, Phillauri and Pari. NH10 earned rave reviews and went on to become a sleeper hit, Phillauri is a neat little film that possibly saw increased viewership after a video from Sharma’s video went viral. Din Shagna Da was on everyone’s playlist, immediately. Sharma’s performance in Pari was praised and while the film was a fresh take on the horror genre in India, it was extremely convoluted.
However, all these ventures show Sharma’s knack for creating work that is mainstream and yet, not wholly palatable. They make you sit up and notice the horror around you without coming across as preachy.
Sure, we miss Anushka Sharma on the screen but whispers of her audacity and her spine are present through the films she chooses to associate herself with. Here’s raising a toast to the woman who dared and continues to dare.