Her role and performance as the unstoppable Naxalite in Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh has won her rave reviews across the board.
Anjali Patil is being compared with her namesake Smita Patil and with Seema Biswas in Bandit Queen. Filmmakers show a keen interest in signing Anjali. Prakash Jha has already zeroed in on Anjali as the actress to watch out for.
Jha has signed her for a 3-film deal. She will feature prominently in Jha’s next Satyagrah.
All the praise, recognition and job offers seem to leave the 23-year old girl from Nasik completely untouched.
Says Anjali, “I never aspired to be a movie actress. Being from the National School Of Drama (NSD) acting was and is my passion. I also used to design sets for the stage. So I’ve been associated with theatre from the time I became an actor. There was no yearning to be in films. But now that Chakravyuh has opened a new window in my life I’d be foolish to shut it. I welcome the attention. Though I never craved for it, nor did I ask for it.”
Luckily for Anjali her co-star in Chakravyuh was Abhay Deol who belongs to her school of thought. “I wouldn’t say we’re method actors, though considering how seriously we take the business of acting, people seem to think we are. But like me he follows a process to arrive at his characterization. I enjoyed working with Abhay. Like me, he is always looking for logic and asking the director a hazaar questions. He also helped me with my scenes since I am relatively new to the movie camera.”
Prior to Chakravyuh Anjali did a a small Indie film, Prashant Nair’s Delhi In A Day and an Indo-Sri Lankan co-production With You Without You based on a Dostoevsky short-story The Meek One.
“In both I was noticed, though not by enough people I guess,” says Anjali without any pretense of modesty. “After Chakravyuh I am open to all sorts of movies. I don’t want to be typecast playing rebellious outcastes. There is a danger in mainstream Hindi cinema of actors repeating themselves endlessly if they’re liked in a role. I am not open to doing variations on Chakravyuh.”
Anjali is open to glamorous parts.
“It’s presumed by the film industry that there are a certain kind of actors who don’t approve of glamorous roles. I don’t mind being glamorous. I don’t think it’s easy putting on loads of makeup and running around trees. Yeah, I’d like to give it a try.”
Playing the Naxalite in Chakravyuh was not difficult for Anjali since, by her own admission, she had “leftist leanings”.
“Though I’ve gotten over that phase in my life I can never be a Capitalist. Acting would never be my bread and butter. I can’t see myself as a Bollywood Movie Star living in a duplex with a fleet of cars parked in the basement. I will always be a misfit, though I wouldn’t like to play misfits all the time.”
Anjali says she “hated” Mumbai earlier but has now accepted the city as her home.
“Back home in Nasik I was used to a quiet peaceful life. Mumbai with its traffic, noise and ambitions, overwhelmed me. I wanted to run away from the city. Now I am no more initimdated by the city. I love the city and the city loves me back. I live in a cosy rented place here surrounded by books. I’m happy with my existence. I don’t need anything else. I am looking at offers for films. But if I don’t like them I don’t mind waiting.”
However there is one area where Anjali would like to put her money. “I’ve seen a lot of writers and actors suffer for the lack of funds. I want to do something to help them.”