Born in Belarus, a country in Eastern Europe, Anna Ador always had a fascination for Indian cinema and culture. Her love for India brought her to the country which she now calls her home. Anna, who is basking in the glory of the appreciation that has come her way post the release of her Netflix original series ‘Aranyak’, has acted in several popular Hindi films and shows including ‘Udta Punjab’, ‘Gurgaon’, ‘Qaidi Band’, ‘Bose: Dead/Live’, ‘Life Sahi Hai’, ‘Batti Gul Meter Chalu’ and ‘Campus Diaries’, among others.
In this interview, the actress talks about her eventful journey in the entertainment industry so far, love for India, upcoming projects, plans to direct a film and more.
As a child, you started learning Indian classical dance at the Indian Embassy in Minsk. Is that the place where your love for India and Indian culture fostered?
Actually, it happened much before. My grandmother was a big fan of Indian films and I would watch those with her. I would make dupattas and other Indian costumes out of the bedsheets we had at home. I was really fascinated by Indian culture. My mother saw this and decided to send me for Indian classical dance classes. She would always tell me that I look Indian because of my birthmark which is at the center of my forehead and resembles a bindi. My parents also worked a lot with Indians in Belarus. I, too, had many Indian friends.
How did you get into performing arts?
I was a performer in my country from a very young age. I was doing theatre professionally and performing in different countries. I would represent Belarus in different competitions across the world. I was part of an artists’ community that was guided by our President. People who were a part of this community or group would be sent to different countries to participate in cultural events. On one such trip to Egypt, I won a grant to study in the United States. It was a drama course. At that time, because of the financial situation in my family and the political situation between Belarus and America, I didn’t get a visa. I was very upset then as I wanted to go out of my country to explore myself as an artist. One of my friends called me to India for a visit. I was 16 at that time. I came on a short trip to North India. It was my first visit to India and the country felt like home. I could speak in Hindi as I had picked up the language after watching countless Hindi films. Seeing my love for India, my friend suggested that I should study here. Since the age of 16, I have been in India.
You studied filmmaking at the RK Films and Media Institute in Delhi. How did the switch from filmmaking to acting happen?
When I moved to India, I was not sure about the kind of opportunities I will get here. I just started trying out different things related to the field of work I was interested in and worked towards honing my skills. I was doing theatre in Delhi. For three years, I studied filmmaking at the RK Films and Media Institute. After the completion of my course, I worked as an assistant director for a while. There is an interesting story behind how I landed in Mumbai. An actor friend of mine in Delhi was going to Mumbai for an audition. I accompanied her. I had never visited Mumbai, so I was quite excited about the trip. The moment I reached Mumbai, things just started happening. Somebody called me for an audition. I met Mukesh Chhabra and he suggested that I should live in Mumbai as there was a lot of good work happening here. ‘Gurgaon’ and ‘Udta Punjab’ were two of the first films I did after moving to Mumbai. I made a lot of friends in the city quickly. Mumbai is a city that changed my fortunes.
Not enough roles are written for foreign actors. Do you get enough good opportunities to choose from?
What helped me was the fact that I could speak Hindi. I have a knack for learning different languages. I have done a film in which I played a half-American and half-Gujarati character. I learn Gujarati for it. In a Tamil film, I played a character who was half Tamil and half French. I have not played stereotypical firang roles so far. Since I was also doing behind-the-camera jobs like being an assistant director and executive producer, there was never a pressure to make money out of acting. I take up an acting project only when I feel excited about it.
Apart from being active in the theatre space as an actor, you have also directed many plays. Is there a plan to direct a film someday?
Yes! I have been developing a script since the last two years. It is based on real experiences. I am very determined to make a film out of it. I am hoping for it to happen soon.
What is that one thing about India that you like the most?
The people! They have so much warmth and are extremely welcoming. Indian people have a very big heart and are extremely kind. They have a lot of empathy. Whenever I am traveling to some country, I try to meet Indian people there. India has been home to me for a decade now. I always feel grateful about living in a wonderful country like India.
Which are the projects you are working on that moment?
I have worked on an Indo-Polish film called ‘No Means No’. It has actors like Gulshan Grover and Sharad Kapoor in it. I am grateful for all the love I have received for my Netflix show ‘Aranyak’. I am a part of the Amazon Prime Video series that has Shahid Kapoor in the lead role and has been directed by Raj and DK. It is a thriller with some dark comedy thrown in for good effect. It’s my third project with Shahid after ‘Udta Punjab’ and ‘Batti Gul Meter Chalu’.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I want to be a part of international projects. I have an agent and I am auditioning for several parts in different countries.