“(Acting) can be challenging, personally and professionally. I get to share the journey with fans – and I can try and impact lives on a small but relevant scale.”
Fish and chips-loving Anisa, one of the stars of 2019’s much-hyped Indian web series Code M, counts resilience as a key trait that has enabled her to enjoy much success in her acting career since the age of 12. Whether it’s Disney or Shakespeare, she immerses herself in the roles and prides herself on facing challenges, while enjoying the rollercoaster of it all!
When and how did you get into acting?
I started when I was 12. I think it was my involvement in school plays and studying drama at school which made me realize, “Hey, I’m passionate about this.” I enjoy it. I decided this is what I wanted to do. I was also inspired by actors and loved watching movies.
Tell us about your acting experience.
It’s been quite a rollercoaster, but an adventure. It’s been wonderful to work in all mediums from TV and commercials to feature films!
Name your top 3 acting projects so far, and why?
The last web series I did in India called Code M for Ekta Kapoor’s online streaming platform ALT Balaji. I got to work with a fantastic director who allowed me to bring to the role what I wanted. It was also emotionally very challenging.
The other one is Ishaan with Disney India. It became such a big hit. It was my first major professional job, gave me a wealth of experience, and allowed me to make friends for life.
Thirdly, it was a play, Othello by Shakespeare; I did in London. It was extremely challenging, and I loved the process of firstly getting my hands on Shakespeare text, and understanding the complexity of the role.
Best things about being an actress?
Each job is different and requires a unique process. It’s never dull, but it can be challenging, personally and professionally. I get to share the journey with fans who support and constantly encourage me along the way. And I can try and impact lives on a small but relevant scale.
Hardest things about acting?
The insecurity of it all. You don’t know when the next job is and there isn’t a fixed idea of your career. There is nothing set about it. Even in terms of days and hours, you do take the work home with you. I think the constant preparation does make it hard, and the competition to stand out as it’s a profession so many would like to do.
Who inspires you in your acting career?
Support wise, my mother has always been encouraging and inspiring me to keep doing well. I love and am inspired by so many actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Nero, Will Smith, Meryl Streep and Aamir Khan!
What’s your advice for young people who want to start acting?
Get some solid training, so you have a base to build on. Go in with a resilient attitude and have lots of patience. You’re lucky if you have the support, but even if you don’t have the self-belief. Stay focused and keep loving the process as it never stops.
How do you prepare for a role?
I like to dig into the text, study character objectives, their motivations and relationships with other characters. Then you can play with body language/accents and all the other touches. Also, I use substitution, which makes situations more real according to personal experiences.
What do you like to do away from acting?
Write poetry, work on my podcast @unplugwithani, spend time with family, watch movies and discover new coffee shops!
Which Bollywood actor are you keen to work with and why?
I would love to work with Aamir Khan as I feel he honours the acting process.
What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you on set?
When I was shooting for Ishaan and very new to working in India, the boys used to pull my leg. I was told to pack up and went and changed. They played a prank on me telling me I still had more shooting left and I had to go back and change.
The hardest scene you’ve ever filmed?
Two scenes in Code M. One was a very emotional scene with Jennifer Winget, and I had to be in a specific headspace. The other was towards the climax.
Name your dream acting job you’d like to do one day?
Along the lines of Rosamund Pike’s character in Gone Girl.
What do you consider to be your most significant achievement?
Getting to work in my home country and another country like India. Learning Hindi. And coming up against the various challenges on my journey, but remaining resilient.
What are your upcoming projects?
Another web series in India, and a British indie feature.
Favourite Sport: Boxing.
Favourite Music: A bit of everything!
Travel Destination: So far, New York.
Favourite TV Show: Friends.
Favourite Food: Fish and chips.
Favourite all-time movie: Shawshank Redemption.
Your message for us at CiiN magazine.
To all my loyal followers, thank you so much for your support. I hope to reach more people and touch more lives. I am also excited about what’s to come.