Hailing from a family of performing artistes, it was quite natural for Anuja Joshi to get drawn to creative arts. As a child, she learnt dance and music extensively and as she grew up, she did a formal course in filmmaking. After working behind the scenes on several popular international shows, she made her acting debut with the web show ‘Hello Mini’ in 2019. In this interview, she talks about the second season of the series which started streaming recently on MX Player, wanting to direct, showcasing herself as a versatile artiste, getting engaged, taking advice from her relatives in the industry and more.
‘Dare-defy’ is the theme of Season 2. Which are the factors you think differentiate the two seasons from each other?
The second season is bigger, bolder and better. ‘Dare-defy’ is an integral part of season 2, you have to watch and see. Mini in season 2 has definitely grown up. The relationship with this stranger is also quite different. This time, you will see her taking charge of the situation. A lot of people will find it more thrilling and scarier. The thriller element is far more prominent. It’s quite funny to say this but sometimes when I see the footage, I get scared.
Back in the day, you were on the marketing team of international shows like ‘Suits’ and ‘Mr. Robot. Do you offer your inputs when it comes to the marketing of your own shows?
I don’t have to. I hold on to the lessons I learnt during my marketing days but the people who are handling the marketing of these shows are amazing at their jobs and have a better idea about these things than I ever had. I think marketing is just not limited to marketing a show. I think it is also about understanding how the audience is reacting to your content. I love to interact with my audience.
As is the case with any other series, there was a gap between the time you finished shooting for the first season of ‘Hello Mini’ and started shooting for the second season. You also did another show (‘Broke But Beautiful Season 2’) in between. When you get back to playing character after a hiatus, is there a difference in the way you approach it?
Yes, there is a lot of difference in the way I approach it. I have also grown up as a person and evolved as an actor. With every project you do, you get a little better at your job. You become a little more experienced. Getting back into Mini’s personality did take me a bit of time. I prepared extensively for two weeks. I stayed in a hotel alone with nobody around to get into that zone again. I am happy I got to do a lighter show like ‘Broken But Beautiful Season 2’. The character I played in it was very different from Mini. I had a great time working on that show and by the time it ended, I was ready to get back to playing Mini.
How has been your working relationship with Rose Movies?
I love everybody at Rose Movies. I think people like Mr. Goldie Behl and his wonderful sister Shraddha Behl who produced the show have almost become like family to me. They have taken very good care of me not just as an artiste but also as a person. I often go to them for advice on various things. I am very grateful to them and truly value the friendship I have with them.
Rivannah, the character you play, is a victim of stalking. Have you ever gone through such an experience yourself?
No, I feel very fortunate that I never had to go through something like this. I know a lot of people go through it and it is something which happens far too often. When you face any kind of harassment, it is important to speak to somebody and seek help.
Your father Alankar Joshi acted in several popular films like ‘Sholay’ and ‘Deewar’ as a child artiste. He also did some prominent films as an adult like ‘Payal Ki Jhankar’. Does he give you any advice about managing your acting career?
I get a lot of advice from him. He knows so much about the industry but he still allows me to be and make my own mistakes. He does not try to control anything that I do. But sometimes I would go to him and tell him that I am not able to figure out how I should approach a particular scene. We sit down and talk about. He has shared many incredible stories from the sets of ‘Deewar’, ‘Sholay’, ‘Andaaz’.
You have some other relatives who are active in the industry like your aunt Pallavi Joshi and uncle Vivek Agnihotri. Do they offer you advice as well?
They give me advice when I go to them. I think one great thing in my family is that nobody ever tries to force their opinion on me. At the same time, it is comforting to know that I have friends and family who are in the same profession as I am. I will never shy away from going to them for advice when I need to.
Though you are working as actor now, you had specialized in film direction from the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television.
I always say that I will end up becoming a director someday. But right now, I am too much in love with acting. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have got as an actor. Hopefully, one day I will direct something. I might also act in something that I direct.
You have been trained in Hindustani classical music and have also learn the Indian dance form Kuchipudi for a long period of time. Would you like to do projects that help you showcase these skills in front of the audience?
I would love to explore these further. My twin sister Aneesha Joshi has taken the dame aspect much higher than me. She has done a dance film also. I have grown up with a 360-degree view of arts. I hope I can showcase different aspect of me as an artiste. I keep my horizons wide open for all the opportunities that came my way.
You got engaged on July 19 last year.
Yes, so many people told me, “you have just started your career. Don’t talk about your engagement.” I have never played by the rules that people set out for me. So many of them said doing OTT would ruin my chances of doing films. Some also said going to India would ruin my chances of working in Hollywood. None of those things came true. What works for you people does not work for me. I want to talk about my engagement because I feel close to my fans. I do not want to hide parts of my life from them. It is a happy thing and I want to share it. if somebody does not want to work with me because I am engaged, then maybe I should not work with those kind of people.