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Treading the highs and lows: Adah Sharma

Treading the highs and lows: Adah Sharma

MY INSPIRATION STEMS FROM THE VIVID MEMORIES OF MY VILLAGE DRAWING UPON THE CAPTIVATING DESIGNS ETCHED ON WALLS MOTIFS DERIVED FROM NATURE AND EVERYDAY MATERIALS. 1 -

When the going gets tough, Adah gets going…

Having made her debut in 2009, Adah’s journey has been nothing less than a rollercoaster ride. From receiving rave reviews to being completely written off, she has faced extreme emotions from her fans and industry. Against all odds, she resurfaces in the spotlight yet again, captivating audiences with her latest film ‘Kerala Stories.’ In this film, witness her transformative portrayal as a protagonist radicalized and coerced into joining ISIS.

“I wouldn’t change anything,” shares a smiling Adah Sharma who talks about her journey, choices and more in an exclusive with Sinduri Vuppala.

Adah, your journey in the industry has been quite remarkable. You have experienced numerous successes as well as challenges, but you have persevered through it all. Tell us a little about your journey.

It’s been about 15 years, since my first film, ‘1920’. I love acting, I love working on all these cool skills. Low points or high points, it’s all been fun! I wouldn’t change anything!

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In a recent interview, you mentioned how you feel that every film you do would be your last… does that change after Kerala Story?

No, that should never change! I can’t predict the future and I don’t wish to. I don’t know who will give me my next movie and trust me with a project that I would also be equally excited to do. But after Kerala Story, I’ve been offered some really exciting projects and scripts, so looks like I’ll be around for a bit.

Your film Kerala Story has put you back in the public eye. Can you tell us about it and what attracted you to the role?

It was just my intuition, I felt I should tell this story. A role like this is the role of a lifetime. Even for me, it was different because, for the first time, I was doing a true-life story, playing a person, Shalini Unnikrishnan aka Fatima Ba, who has been through all the horrors and terrors I relived on screen. I met the survivors and heard their stories and I thought, if I could play this role convincingly, I could be the voice for a few girls. Back then, I didn’t know that this choice would change the lives of so many!

As of today the movie has collected 300 crores and counting… what do those numbers mean to you?

More numbers mean more people watching the film. Despite it being banned in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, people have travelled in buses to Assam to watch it. It’s touching. A lot of people say movies make crores, but this movie is special because it has touched the hearts of crores of people.

Even the success of this film has been a little bittersweet, while you were appreciated for your role; you were also doled out death threats. How does this make you feel?

I’ve made space in the hearts of millions of people around the world. Speaking the truth would anger a few, after all, we are exposing a huge terrorism nexus. A lot of the anger is from people who haven’t watched the film. For me actually, it isn’t bitter. I am overwhelmed by the incredible amount of respect and love I have received. I haven’t witnessed such immense support for a film in recent times. People have embraced this film as their own and actively promoted it. I am thrilled to be included in their celebration of success.

What’s next for you? Do you think the success of this film will get you the kind of roles you have been looking for? Is it true that you have been offered an international project where you play a superhero?

I wish to work with people who are charged to make great cinema.

Yes it is true, I am playing a superhero, and I like to talk about films when the trailer is out. It’s nicer that way, like we did for the Kerala Story or like I do for all my films. My next set of films is very different and I play very contrasting characters from what I did in Kerala Story. To know more you will simply have to wait a few more months.

Do you think being from a non-film background has set you back more than you would like to believe is true?

I think after debuting with a role like 1920 and doing some amazing stuff in the South too and now Kerala Story, it would be ungrateful for me to say I wish I were born in the womb of someone from the industry. The Kerala Story is the highest female-grosser film ever. That makes me one in….everyone ever!

How do you approach choosing roles and projects? What factors do you consider?

Only intuition. I make sure I’m well fed, and my sugar levels are optimum, then I tap into my intuition and I know, Positively YES or Definitely NO! There’s never an in-between.

You have done a lot of films down South, any interesting projects in the pipeline?

Yes, several. I’m planning to clone myself first, want to do all of them and more.

What’s your take on OTT, OTT is now opening up opportunities for better roles and better performances…

I agree. With OTT more stuff is being made, and more actors are getting a chance. I’m very happy OTT exists; I hope all the talented actors get opportunities and raise the bar so high that mediocrity becomes obsolete.

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In an industry where fates and people become obsolete every Friday, you have managed to ride the tide with your head held up high. Does the pressure ever get to you? What do you do to keep your mental health balanced?

To be honest I’m not sure one can be fully mentally balanced and stay around. I’m a little off and a little dead inside to stick around.  I like what I was doing over the past three years. I was getting to live roles that I enjoyed playing, all of them were so diverse. I like working without an end goal and plan that keeps me sane.

What advice would you give to aspiring actors who are just starting their journey in the industry?

For someone who isn’t from the industry, make sure your light shines so bright that they can’t help but notice you. You might get that one chance, so be ready for it. It sometimes might take a hundred years (for me from 1920 to 2023, literally a hundred) so keep at it, because when you get that one chance you should be ready to give it your all.

How do you stay motivated and inspired in your craft? Are there any specific sources or practices that fuel your creativity?

I try to keep my focus. If I’m peeling oranges, I do just that! If I’m solving puzzles, I don’t check my phone in between. If I’m playing the piano, it’s the piano alone. I’m not distracted; I’m listening to what they are saying. I think that keeps me inspired. I like learning new things that keep me fuelled too!

Finally, what keeps Adah going and what’s her biggest high?

The biggest high is being so real on screen that people don’t think it looks like an act. To make life and death real. And finally, to keep people entertained enough so they don’t have the urge to check their phones while watching what we have created on screen.

Blurbs:

I am overwhelmed by the incredible amount of respect and love I have received. I haven’t witnessed such immense support for a film in recent times. People have embraced this film as their own and actively promoted it. I am thrilled to be included in their celebration of success.

 I’m thrilled they have included me in their success think after debuting with a role like 1920 and doing some amazing stuff in the South too and now Kerala Story it would be really ungrateful for me to say I wish I were born in the womb of someone from the industry.

To be honest I’m not sure one can be fully mentally balanced and stay around in the film industry. I’m a little off and a little dead inside to stick around. 

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