Anushka Sharma (pronounced [əˈnʊʂkaː ˈʃərmaː]; born 1 May 1988) is an Indian film actress, producer and model. She has established a career in Hindi films, and is one of the most popular and highest-paid actresses in India. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including one Filmfare Award from seven nominations.
Born in Ayodhya and raised in Bangalore, Sharma had her first modelling assignment for the fashion designer Wendell Rodricks in 2007 and later moved to Mumbai to pursue a full-time career as a model. Following a successful audition at Yash Raj Films, she made her screen debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan in the blockbuster romance Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), which earned a Filmfare Award for Best Actress nomination. Sharma rose to prominence with starring roles in Yash Raj Films’s romances Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012); the latter won her a Best Supporting Actress award at Filmfare. She had her biggest commercial successes with the roles of a television reporter in the religious satire PK (2014) and a wrestler in the sports drama Sultan (2016), both of which rank among the highest-grossing Indian films. Sharma received critical praise for her performances in the crime thriller NH10, which also marked her production debut, and the 2016 romantic drama Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, both of which earned her several Best Actress nominations.
In addition to acting in films, Sharma is the ambassador for multiple brands and products, and has an active social media presence. She also supports various charities and causes, including gender equality and animal rights. She and her brother, Karnesh Sharma are the founders of the production company Clean Slate Films.
Early life and modelling career
Anushka Sharma was born on 1 May 1988 in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. Her father, Colonel Ajay Kumar Sharma, is an army officer, and her mother, Ashima Sharma, is a homemaker. Her father is a native of Uttar Pradesh, while her mother is a Garhwali. Her elder brother is film producer Karnesh Sharma, who earlier served in the Merchant Navy. Sharma has stated that being a military brat played an important role in shaping her as a person and contributing to her life. In an interview with The Times of India in 2012, she said, “I take pride in saying that I am an army officer’s daughter even more than being an actor.”
Sharma was raised in Bangalore. She was educated at the Army School there, and received a degree in arts from Mount Carmel College. She originally intended to pursue a career in modelling or journalism, and had no aspirations to be an actress. After graduation, Sharma moved to Mumbai to further her modelling career. She enrolled herself at the Elite Model Management, and was groomed by the style consultant Prasad Bidapa. In 2007, Sharma made her runway debut at the Lakme Fashion Week for designer Wendell Rodricks‘s Les Vamps Show and was picked to be his finale model at the Spring Summer 2007 Collection. Since then she has done campaigns for the brands Silk & Shine, Whisper, Nathella Jewelry and Fiat Palio. Sharma later said, “I think I was born to emote and act. I would walk down the ramp and smile and they used to say, ‘give us a blank look.’ It was really difficult, not to smile”. Whilst modelling, Sharma also joined an acting school and began auditioning for film roles. Her first role was of an extra in the comedy drama Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006).
Film debut and breakthrough (2008–10)
Sharma’s acting debut was in Aditya Chopra‘s romantic comedy Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008), opposite Shah Rukh Khan. She took a day to prepare for her screen test at the Yash Raj Films studio and refused to do an impromptu one. She was signed for a three-film deal with the company and landed the leading role of Tani Sahni, a young bride to a middle-aged man, portrayed by Khan. Giving the film a three-and-half star rating, Khalid Mohamed called her “assured and upright”, while Nikhat Kazmi wrote about Sharma’s performance that she “lacks all chutzpah and can barely hold your attention”. The film received positive reviews and was a major commercial success, emerging as the second-highest grossing Hindi film of that year. It earned her the Filmfare Awards nomination for Best Actress and Best Female Debut.
Two years later, Sharma played the leading lady in the crime-comedy Badmaash Company, directed by Parmeet Sethi and co-starring Shahid Kapoor, Vir Das and Meiyang Chang. The film, dealing with four underachieving friends who begin a scam business enterprise, met with mixed reviews. Later in 2010, Sharma completed her three-film contract with Yash Raj Films by starring in Band Baaja Baaraat, a romantic comedy directed by Maneesh Sharma and co-starring debutant Ranveer Singh. Her role was that of Shruti Kakkar, an ambitious middle-class Punjabi girl who starts her own wedding planning business. In preparation for the part, Sharma learned to speak in the Punjabi dialect, which she cited as the toughest part of her role; she described the way the lead characters in the film interact as “crude but cute” which required her to “talk fast, sometimes mix words and even omit words completely”.
Trade analysts expressed doubt on Band Baaja Baaraat‘s financial prospect, citing the middling response to Yash Raj Films’ last few productions, the lack of a male star, and saying that by then Sharma was an “almost-forgotten” actress. However, Band Baaja Baaraat earned positive reviews and emerged a sleeper hit. The film grossed approximately ₹ 214.4 million after five weeks, making it a moderate box office success. Sharma’s performance was praised by critics, many of whom cited it as her best work up to date. Film critic Anupama Chopra praised Sharma and said that she “comes into her own as the ambitious Delhi girl, who dreams of upgrading to multi-crore Sainik Farms weddings”. For her work in the film, Sharma received her second nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress.
Rise to prominence (2011–14)
Sharma’s first venture outside of the Yash Raj banner was the drama Patiala House (2011) directed by Nikhil Advani and co-starring Akshay Kumar. The film tells the story of a budding cricketer (played by Kumar) who encounters trouble in convincing his father of his profession; Sharma was cast as the love interest of Kumar’s character. Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com praised Sharma’s work and labelled her a “metaphor for energy”. The same year, she re-united with her Band Baaja Baarat co-star Ranveer Singh and director Maneesh Sharma for the comedy-drama Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, produced by Yash Raj Films. She featured as Ishika Desai, a salesgirl hired to outwit a conman (essayed by Singh), who ends up falling in love with him instead. The film and Sharma’s performance received mixed reviews, with Piyali Dasgupta of NDTV calling her “believable but not endearing”. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a moderate success at the box office.
In 2012, Sharma played a supporting role alongside Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif in Yash Chopra‘s “swan song“, the romance Jab Tak Hai Jaan, which marked her fifth collaboration with Yash Raj Films and her second with Khan. She was cast as Akira Rai, a Discovery Channel reporter who harbours an ambition of making documentary films. CNN-IBN‘s Rajeev Masand wrote that Sharma “brings a spark to the film”, however, Raja Sen disagreed and said that “while Anushka can indeed play spunky, she needed here to tone it down several notches”. For her role, she won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. Jab Tak Hai Jaan went on to become the third highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2012.
Sharma then appeared in Vishal Bhardwaj‘s Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (2013), a political satire set in a village in Haryana. Co-starring alongside Pankaj Kapur, Imran Khan and Shabana Azmi, Sharma played the titular role of Bijlee Mandola, a strong-headed girl who engages in a romantic affair with Khan’s character despite being engaged to another man. The film received positive to mixed reviews from critics, and underperformed at the box office. Several critics noted that Sharma was being stereotyped as a loud and loquacious girl; Raja Sen noted that she “is great in a couple of scenes near the climax,” though Kanika Sikka of Daily News and Analysis was more critical and found her “unconvincing”. The following year, she portrayed Jagat “Jaggu” Janini, a television journalist who befriends an alien (played by Aamir Khan), in Rajkumar Hirani‘s religious satire PK. Critic Saibal Chatterjee wrote that Sharma plays “a feisty poetry-loving girl who knows her mind far more than most Hindi film heroines are allowed to” and praised her for “hold[ing] her own” against Khan. The film garnered critical acclaim and emerged as the highest-grossing Bollywood film with a worldwide revenue of over ₹7 billion (US$100 million).
Professional expansion (2015–present)
In 2014, Sharma established her own production company named Clean Slate Films, whose first release was Navdeep Singh‘s thriller NH10 (2015), in which she also played the lead role. Screened at the 5th Beijing International Film Festival, the film tells the story of a married couple whose lives are endangered after an encounter with a group of criminals. In preparation for the role, Sharma underwent interval training for three months in order to build stamina and remain fit. Writing for NDTV, critic Saibal Chatterjee found the film to be a “taut and riveting thriller” and praised Sharma for “conveying a range of moods as she moves from the vulnerable to the fearless in a battle in which the odds are stacked heavily against her”, and Prarthana Sarkar of International Business Times credited her for “breaking the ‘Miss Bubbly’ stereotype”. The film also emerged as a box office success.
In Anurag Kashyap‘s period crime drama Bombay Velvet (2015), (based on the historian Gyan Prakash‘s book Mumbai Fables) co-starring Ranbir Kapoor and Karan Johar, Sharma was cast in the role of a jazz singer, Rosie Noronha. Her character was referenced from yesteryear stars like Brigitte Bardot, Helen and Waheeda Rehman. As part of her preparation, Sharma watched a lot of films of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as a documentary showing the development of hair and make-up over the years. She also revealed to have used temporary lip enhancers as a part of her make up in the film, citing it as the reason behind her changed appearance on a chat show in 2014, and refuting media speculations about her having undergone plastic surgery.
Bombay Velvet was screened at the Locarno and Bucheon film festivals, but critical reviews on it were mixed. Writing for Business Standard, Ritika Bhatia praised Sharma’s performance in the song “Dhadaam Dhadaam”: “she fills the stage with such raw emotion that her mascara-laden tears and fake eyelashes flutter with arresting passion”. However, the film proved to be a box office failure, failing to recover its ₹1.2 billion (US$18 million) investment. The same year, she featured in a supporting role of a dancer aboard a cruise ship in Zoya Akhtar‘s Dil Dhadakne Do, an ensemble comedy-drama starring Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh. The song “Pehli Baar” in the film was choreographed by her and Singh; Shilpa Jamkhandikar of Reuters praised their on-screen chemistry and described it as “crackling”. Her performances in NH10 and Dil Dhadakne Do earned her Filmfare Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
Sharma next reunited with Yash Raj Films in Sultan (2016), a romantic sports drama from the writer-director Ali Abbas Zafar. She took on the role of Aarfa Hussain, a wrestler from Haryana who inspires the title character (played by Salman Khan) to take up the sport. Sharma was initially hesitant about the role as she did not have the physique of a wrestler, and researched on different weight categories to “beat people’s perception that all wrestlers are huge.” She was trained for six weeks in the sport, learned to speak the Haryanvi dialect and also interacted with female wrestlers from the state. The film, as well as her performance received mixed to positive reviews. Critics were appreciative of her substantial role in an androcentric film; Filmfare‘s Rachit Gupta described Sharma as “the best thing in the film” and noted that [e]ven though she doesn’t have the physique of a wrestler, her spirited performance makes you believe in her tough but emotional character.” However, Suprateek Chatterjee of The Huffington Post felt that she was unconvincing as a wrestler, writing that “she possesses literally zero muscles and somehow always finds the time to get her make-up just right.” With earnings of over ₹5 billion (US$74 million) worldwide, Sultan ranks among Indian cinema’s biggest grossers.
Sharma achieved further success later that year when she played the lead female role of Alizeh Khan, a free-spirited girl who suffers from cancer in Karan Johar’s romantic drama Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, alongside Rabir Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai. Mike Maccahil of The Guardian took note of how much Sharma “terrific spikiness” and her chemistry with Kapoor helped a mediocre picture. In another typical mixed review, Sweta Kaushal of Hindustan Times praised Sharma’s empowered female lead. The film earned over ₹2 billion (US$30 million) worldwide, and Sharma received a Best Actress nomination at the 62nd Filmfare Awards. With two top-grossing films in 2016, Bollywood Hungama ranked Sharma as the most successful Bollywood actress of the year.
As of February 2017, Sharma has completed work on her next production venture, Phillauri, a romantic comedy featuring Sharma alongside Diljit Dosanjh and Suraj Sharma. She is filming for Imtiaz Ali‘s romance The Ring, which will mark her third collaboration with Shah Rukh Khan. In addition, Sharma has committed to appear in the comedy Kaneda, alongside Arjun Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh, and has shot a cameo appearance for Rajkumar Hirani’s biopic on the actor Sanjay Dutt, entitled Dutt.
Personal life and off-screen work
As of September 2014, Sharma is pursuing a Master of Economics degree through correspondence. She started practising vegetarianism in 2015. The Times of India has listed her as one of “Bollywood’s hottest vegetarian celebrities”. She was also named as the “hottest vegetarian of 2015” by PETA . She is an avid practitioner of Transcendental Meditation. Sharma has confessed to being a victim of anxiety disorder and seeking treatment for it. As of September 2015, Sharma is in a relationship with cricketer Virat Kohli. Their relationship has attracted substantial media coverage in India, though she is reluctant to openly talk about it.
A practicing Hindu, Sharma along with her family is a follower of ‘Anant Dham Atmabodh Ashram’ in Haridwar. The ashram is headed by Maharaj Anant Baba, who is her family’s spiritual guru and the actress is a regular visitor to the ashram.
In September 2013, Sharma participated and walked the ramp in a fashion show that was held in memory of the late filmmaker, Yash Chopra. She participated in the opening ceremony of the 2015 Indian Premier League held at Kolkata, along with other celebrities including Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Farhan Akhtar and composer Pritam.
Apart from acting, Sharma supports a number of charities and causes. She walked the ramp to support Shabana Azmi’s Mijwan Welfare Society, an NGO that helps empower women. In 2013, alongside other Bollywood actors, she pledged to support the education of India’s young girls as part of NDTV’s “Our Girls, Our Pride” fundraiser. That same year, she appeared alongside other celebrities in a commercial, produced by the National Film Development Corporation of India, to create awareness about the ‘Right to Education’ for children. In December 2014, Sharma auctioned the leather jacket she wore in Jab Tak Hai Jaan on eBay, with proceeds going to the redevelopment of the flood-ravaged states of Kashmir and Assam. Sharma had also fronted a campaign to collect donations for the victims of the April 2015 Nepal earthquake. She supports the annual Mumbai Film Festival, and donated money in its cause in 2015. Sharma has been vocal about the disparity in the pay that actresses command, in comparison with their male counterparts in the film industry. In 2016, she supported India’s first transgender band, the 6-Pack Band (initiated by Y-Films), by providing a voice over in their first single, “Hum Hain Happy.”
Sharma has also spoken up for animal rights on social media. In April 2014, she took to Twitter to ask for a ban on horse-drawn carriages in Mumbai. In June 2015, she condemned the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China, and urged her fans to sign an online petition aimed at stopping it. In October 2015, she launched ‘Pawsitivity’, a campaign aimed at sensitising people about the adverse effects of noise, air, water and soil pollution on animals. She said, “Animals make the world a better place and it is our responsibility to be sensitive towards them as they don’t have a voice.”
Priya Gupta of The Times of India has said that “the best part of [Sharma’s] stardom is that she does not have the trappings of a star.” Kalpana Nair of Firstpost stated: “actresses like Sharma command the respect they do in a largely conservative and male-dominated industry and the fact that their fan base grows when they take on roles that are not conventional is good reason for us to beam widely and walk with a spring in our step”. Samar Srivastava, writing for Forbes, called her “unafraid”, and added: “you would be hard-pressed to associate Sharma with the stereotype of a mainstream leading lady.” The Times of India published that “..she never shies away from putting [her opinion] across.”
Sharma featured on Rediff.com’s list of “Bollywood’s Best Actors” for Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), and NH10 (2015). She was also featured in their list of “Bollywood’s Best Dressed Actresses” in 2012–13. She held the fifth position on The Times of India’s listing of the “Most Desirable Woman” in 2011. In 2012, she appeared in the Forbes Celebrity 100, a list based on income and popularity of India’s celebrities. She remained in the top fifty spots for three consecutive years, listed at the thirty-sixth spot in 2012, the thirty-first spot in 2013, and the forty-second spot in 2014. In 2015, she was ranked nineteenth with an estimated annual earning of ₹26.83 crore (US$4.0 million), making her one of the highest paid actresses in the country. Sharma maintaines a Twitter account and has an official Facebook page. She is cited as one of the most popular Indian celebrities on social media. In 2015, She appeared on The Huffington Post’s list of “100 most influential women on Twitter”. The same year, she also topped the Times Celebex list of Bollywood stars, in terms of highest box-office collection. In 2016, she featured on The Times of India ‘s ‘Most Engaging on Twitter’ list of Hindi film actors. Filmfare magazine’s fashion poll of 2015 voted her as being “Amazing with Androgyny” and said that “…[she] has carved a niche for her easy breezy high street style.” She also featured on Verve magazine’s “Best Dressed 2015” list.
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|2008||Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi||Taani Sahni||Aditya Chopra|
|2010||Badmaash Company||Bulbul Singh||Parmeet Sethi|
|2010||Band Baaja Baaraat||Shruti Kakkar||Maneesh Sharma|
|2011||Patiala House||Simran Chaggal||Nikhil Advani|
|2011||Ladies vs Ricky Bahl||Ishika Desai||Maneesh Sharma|
|2012||Jab Tak Hai Jaan||Akira Rai||Yash Chopra|
|2013||Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola||Bijlee Mandola||Vishal Bhardwaj|
|2014||PK||Jagat “Jaggu” Janini||Rajkumar Hirani|
|2015||NH10||Meera||Navdeep Singh||Also producer|
|2015||Bombay Velvet||Rosie Noronha||Anurag Kashyap|
|2015||Dil Dhadakne Do||Farah Ali||Zoya Akhtar|
|2016||Sultan||Aarfa Hussain||Ali Abbas Zafar|
|2016||Ae Dil Hai Mushkil||Alizeh Khan||Karan Johar|
|2017||Phillauri||Shashi||Anshai Lal||Also producer and playback singer for song “Naughty Billo”
|2017||The Ring||TBA||Imtiaz Ali||Filming|
|2017||Dutt||TBA||Rajkumar Hirani||Cameo; Filming|
Awards and nominations
|2009||Filmfare Awards||Best Actress||Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi||Nominated|
|Best Female Debut||Nominated|
|Screen Awards||Most Promising Newcomer – Female||Nominated|
|2010||Star Guild Awards||Best Female Debut||Won|
|BIG Star Entertainment Awards||Most Entertaining Film Actor-Female||Band Baaja Baaraat||Nominated|
|2011||Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Awards||Excellent Performance Award||Won |
|Filmfare Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|International Indian Film Academy Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|Hottest Pair (along with Ranveer Singh)||Won|
|Lions Gold Awards||Favorite Jodi (along with Ranveer Singh)||Won|
|Screen Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|Star Guild Awards||Best Actress in a Leading Role||Won|
|Stardust Awards||Best Comedy/Romance Actress||Nominated|
|Zee Cine Awards||Best Actor – Female||Nominated|
|2012||Zee Cine Awards||International Female Icon||N/A||Nominated|
|2013||Stardust Awards||Best Comedy/Romance Actress||Ladies vs Ricky Bahl||Won|
|BIG Star Entertainment Awards||Most Entertaining Film Actor-Female||Jab Tak Hai Jaan||Nominated|
|Most Entertaining Actor in a Romantic Role-Female||Nominated|
|Filmfare Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|International Indian Film Academy Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Screen Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Star Guild Awards||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Stardust Awards||Best Comedy/Romance Actress||Won|
|Times of India Film Awards||Best Supporting Actor (Female)||Nominated|
|Zee Cine Awards||Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Female||Won|
|2015||BIG Star Entertainment Awards||Most Entertaining Actor in a Social Role-Female||PK||Nominated|
|Most Entertaining Actor in a Social Role-Female||NH10||Nominated|
|Most Entertaining Social Film||Nominated|
|Most Entertaining Actor in a Thriller Role-Female||Nominated|
|Most Entertaining Thriller Film||Nominated|
|Most Entertaining Actor in a Romantic Role-Female||Dil Dhadakne Do||Nominated|
|Indian Film Festival of Melbourne||Best Actress||NH10||Nominated|
|International Indian Film Academy Awards||Best Actress||PK||Nominated|
|Jagran Film Festival||Best Actress||NH10||Nominated|
|Star Guild Awards||Best Actress in a Leading Role||NH10||Nominated|
|K.A Abbas Honour for Social Consciousness||Won|
|Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Dil Dhadakne Do||Nominated|
|Stardust Awards||Best Actor of the Year (Female)||PK||Nominated|
|Performer of the Year (Female)||NH10||Nominated|
|2016||Filmfare Awards||Best Actress||NH10||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Dil Dhadakne Do||Nominated|
|International Indian Film Academy Awards||Best Supporting Role – Female||Dil Dhadakne Do||Nominated|
|Screen Awards||Best Actress (Popular Choice)||NH10 (also for Dil Dhadakne Do)||Nominated|
|Best Jodi (Popular Choice) (along with Ranveer Singh)||Dil Dhadakne Do||Nominated|
|Best Ensemble Cast||Won|
|Times of India Film Awards||Best Actor (Female)||NH10||Nominated|
|Best Actor Critics (Female)||Nominated|
|Zee Cine Awards||Best Actor (Female) – Viewers’ Choice||Nominated|
|2017||Filmfare Awards||Best Actress||Ae Dil Hai Mushkil||Nominated|
|Year||Award / Organisation||Category||Result|
|2011||GQ Men of the Year Awards||Excellence Award||Won|
|Vogue Beauty Awards||Fresh Face||Won|
|2012||Hello! Hall of Fame Awards||Face of the Year||Won|
|Teacher’s Achievement Awards||People Teacher’s Award||Won|
|2015||ETC Bollywood Business Awards||Highest Grossing Actor Female Award||Won|
|Vogue Beauty Awards||Beauty of the Year||Won|
|Filmfare Glamour and Style Awards||Most Stylish Star (Female)||Nominated|
|Most Glamorous Real Life Couple (along with Virat Kohli)||Nominated|
|Most Glamorous On-Screen Couple (along with Ranveer Singh)||Nominated|
|Trendsetter of the Year||Nominated|
|2016||ETC Bollywood Business Awards||Small Budget Film of the Year (NH10)||Won|