She's tall, slim and beautiful and one of the top heroines in the South. Yet Anushka Shetty agreed to put on 20 kilos for Inji Idupazhagi (Size Zero), her next film in Tamil and Telugu, produced by PVP Cinemas. Anushka, who was recently seen in SS Rajamouli's Baahubali, which won over audiences across the world, is awaiting audience reaction to Inji Idupazhagi, which is releasing on November 27.
The posters and trailer show an overweight Anushka stuck in comical and serious situations. "The film revolves around a girl, Soundarya aka Sweety, who encounters problems finding the right groom because she is overweight. Her mother, played by Urvashi, is eagerly searching for the right partner for her, but in vain. That's because most suitable boys and NRIs that she encounters prefer a girl of a certain size. The film deals about what this girl goes through as a person, and how she resolves this issue," said Anushka, when asked about the concept of Size Zero.
Directed by Prakash Kovelamudi, son of the legendary Telugu filmmaker KS Raghavendra Rao, Inji Idupazhagi stars Arya as Abhi, an NRI. In an age where actresses are trying to get slimmer, here comes Anushka's decision to put on 20 kilos for a role.
"I fell in love with the script. The minute Kanika Kovelamudi (writer) told me the story, I felt a strong connect with the character immediately and I felt every woman will be able to relate to her. I find that people, women in particular, are very conscious about their weight and appearance. Even before I entered films, and was a Yoga teacher, I saw how much obsessed people were with their weight. Whether you are a celebrity or not, everyone gets affected by other people's comments on their appearance. This is because we forget who we really are and concentrate on our appearance alone. This film seeks to highlight that your beauty lies in your personality and is not determined by your appearance," she explained. (Also Read - Anushka Shetty's Size Zero Dilemma: To Eat or Not to Eat?)
Anushka feels that peer pressure movies and media re-inforce certain notions of beauty that add to the problem. "Every person, no matter how their appearance is, has someone who loves them. That reinforces the fact that beauty is about who you are as a person, and not how you look. But people are forgetting this. Magazines and movies add to the notion that being slim alone is beautiful. People are becoming so obsessed with looks, that even if they exercise, it is to please their parents or partners. They don't do it because being fit is good for health. Somewhere along the way, they forget who they really are. Almost every girl encounters a bad hair day or days when the clothes don't fit or the skin breaks out. And people are quick to comment on these things! In fact, actors encounter it more! Each of us has different ways of dealing with it. Some go on the defensive; some go into depression or withdraw. The film is the story of one such girl and how she deals with her problems," added Anushka. (Also Read: Anushka Shetty's Size Zero Friends Include Baahubali's Rana, Tamannaah)
So why did she actually put on the weight, instead of using prosthetics or a body suit?
"We did a photoshoot with prosthetics but I felt that though my body looked fat, my arms and face looked leaner. I felt that mismatch would not look good on screen and decided to do it the natural way by piling on the kilos," she smiled.
So while most people shun the calories, Anushka did just the opposite for two months, but under supervision. So what was her diet like? Did she binge on junk food?
"Not at all. In fact, I don't have a sweet tooth. I mostly ate rice and homemade food, but in larger quantities than usual," she replied. "It's not just about putting on the weight in any way possible. I didn't want to eat anything that may harm my body from within and cause health problems later. So I avoided fried and oily foods and junk food. Plus, I knew I had to also lose it later. So, I ate with caution and under supervision," she added.
Putting on 20 kilos extra led to shoulder, leg and wrist pain for Anushka, but it's been well worth it. "I enjoyed every bit of playing Soundarya and I hope audiences connect with her too. This is a film I am proud to be a part of," she said.
She is grateful to her co-star and good friend Arya, for accepting to play the male lead in a woman-centric film. "This is our second film together after Irandam Ulagam. Actors don't easily agree to do scripts like these. He accepted gracefully that the film is centered around Sweety."
Whether its Arundhati, Rudramma Devi or Inji Idupazhagi, Anushka has consistently proved that she can carry a film on her shoulders, much like the male actors do. But Anushka said, "It's not about being hero or heroine. It's just that I am open to doing new scripts and different genres, all of which give me a variety of opportunities to perform. There are other heroines like Trisha, Nayanthara, Charmee and Swathi who are doing strong women characters in Southern films like Nayaki, Maya, etc. It's a good phase where strong roles are being written for women," said Anushka.
Having shed the extra kilos now, Anushka is gearing up for shoot of Baahubali 2, where her character will have a greater focus. At present, Anushka is busy training in archery, horse riding and sword fighting. She didn't reveal much about her role except to say, "My role in Baahubali 2 will have lots of shades."
Her next film with Suriya, Singham 3, directed by Hari, will also go on the floors soon. But shuttling between shoots for both films, Anushka will be perfectly at home. Because whether it is between industries, genres or roles, from the historical to the modern, the balancing act is something she has perfected.