Actor Anisha Victor of RejctX fame has no qualms in admitting she failed hundreds of auditions before she got her break in the film industry. And what a break it was. Her debut film, titled Aval in Telugu and The House Next Door in Hindi – a horror flick directed by Milind Rau and released in 2017 – earned her two film-award nominations in the best newcomer and best supporting actor categories, and sparked off her film career.
The army kid, who was born in Allahabad and grew up in Delhi, Jodhpur, Siliguri, Dehradun, Jammu and Gangtok besides other locations due to her father’s postings, is today a recognisable face on streaming TV having starred in three web series: What’s Your Status (2018), Mr. Das (2019) and, more recently, Zee5 Originals’ high-school thriller drama RejctX (2019-20). Her role of Kiara Tiwari in the first season of RejctX also earned her an award nomination.
It has been a challenging journey, Anisha shares, especially since she barely had any contacts in the film industry and was a rank outsider. After completing her graduation from St. Stephens College in Delhi – where she landed a modeling job for Clean & Clear face wash – she moved to the city of dreams, Mumbai.
From the start, her parents had an idea of what she wanted to do. Though her mother was supportive of her decisions, her father wasn’t too thrilled. “But he came around once he started to see my television career taking off,” smiles Anisha.
Trained under stalwarts like dance coach Barry John and acting coach Neeraj Kabi, Anisha learnt to overcome her childhood shyness and timidity. “They gave me the confidence to face the camera. Now, whenever I have longer auditions, I break down the script, which I think is homework every actor needs to do,” says Anisha, who initially worked in sales and marketing for a large company and then interned with a fashion choreographer to make ends meet in the big city and to pay for acting school.
Anisha Victor as Kiara in RejctX.
With barely any connections in the film industry, auditioning never went the way she expected. “Rejections are never easy. I would get shortlisted for almost everything, but would not make it to the final selection. And I couldn’t understand why. But slowly one realises that network matters more than talent in the industry. So, I made my peace with that. I follow the organic way of auditioning and getting rejected,” says Anisha in good humour.
Her perseverance eventually worked, and she learnt to use each acting assignment as an opportunity to grow. “Being on the sets of Aval with seasoned actors like Siddharth and Atul Kulkarni was a full-fledged acting workshop for me. The crew and I became great friends and continue being so. They would cheer me on after the ‘possession and exorcism’ scene I did on the sets. And that’s something I’ll never forget. Those are some of the happiest memories I have,” she shares.
An admirer of Hollywood stars Kate Winslet, Tilda Swinton, Margot Robbie, and Viola Davis, Anisha believes she is “not really in a position to be picky about projects”. Though she chooses not to speak about the nepotism debate that has raged in Bollywood over the past few years, she says, “I’m glad the issue is getting attention.”
Now, due to the pandemic, everything has gone digital, including movies. This has opened up several opportunities for many aspiring actors who were sidelined in the mainstream movie business for several years, and who are now making their presence felt on OTT platforms.
“Movies will always be my first choice. The movie-going experience is what I have missed the most in the lockdown. Nonetheless, OTT has given more actors opportunities and that is the need of the hour,” opines Anisha.
An avid traveller who finds travel to be like “meditation” for her, Anisha is also a painter and normally spends her free time with friends and family. Her short career in the film industry has taught her long-term lessons for life and work. “It’s important to be grounded and humble. I also respect others’ time with my punctuality, which is why I’m always appreciated on the sets. It’s important to not take anything for granted,” she says.
Going on, she adds, “The biggest lesson in acting for me is listening. You have to listen carefully to what the director says, and when your co-actors say their lines.”
At present, she’s continuing to audition for new roles. Her favourite all-time film? “That will always be The House Next Door for me!” she laughs.First published in eShe magazine