Living the circus of life, Adah Sharma confesses to loving the drama every single day in her career as a movie star. She has wrapped up shoots and is all set to raise the roof with three Telugu films that are slated to release anytime soon this year. Queen of action, horror, emotional drama, comedy and more, she adds a touch of oomph to every genre that she plays. Always one with a positive outlook towards life, the Commando heroine seems to have total command on her life too and is raring to go. She opens up to us in this exclusive interview on her early days, her movies, friends, family and more.

1. Please tell us about your growing up days. Where did you study? What was your dream career in your childhood days?
When I was a child I wanted to join the circus, so I could be close to animals and do hula hoop. Circus life is very difficult as I interacted with a few people from the circus later in life. But, when I was a kid, that’s what I wanted to do. I chose Bollywood instead, which is quite a circus in itself (she laughs).

I’m born and brought up in Mumbai. I’m from Bandra, Pali Hill and I’m still living in the same house since my childhood. My school was very close to my home. I didn’t go to college as after I finished school, as I wanted to act in movies. But I have completed my graduation in Kathak. It’s an eight year course, which I started in school and dance is something I really enjoy. I’m living my childhood dream – circus to circus.

2. After your film Hasee Toh Phasee how did you venture into the South Indian film industry in the world of Telugu cinema?
As I was shooting for Hasee Toh Phasee, I got an offer from Puri Jagannath for his film Heart Attack. Puri Jagannath is like the Karan Johar of the south film industry. And it was with Nithin who is also a big star. I wanted to debut in a film where the girl was an important and integral part of the story. Heart Attack was an important story and I’m glad it was accepted with open arms as that started my career in Telugu cinema. Heart Attack and Hasee Toh Phasee released in the same week. For Hasee Toh Phasee I was not supposed to tell anyone that I’m doing the film. Whereas for Heart Attack we had to go on all the TV channels and promote the movie and talk about it. I was so excited to be talking about the film, so I thought it was better for me to be in Hyderabad. So, when Hasee Toh Phasee released, people asked me why didn’t you talk about this film at all. When Heart Attack released, I realised that irrespective of the language, I wanted to do good films, films that make me happy and be a part of different stories. I’m now ready to do all the south Indian and other Indian languages as well, even Chinese and German films.

3. When and how did the journey towards being an actor happen?
This is something that we all have been doing every day of our lives. We prepare in various ways for various roles. It’s a journey of how you get your first film. So one keeps going for various auditions and keeps getting rejected. That makes one stronger and hopefully not bitter.

4. Were there any kind of apprehensions entering the field of cinema?
I wish I had some apprehensions that way I would have been better prepared. I was not prepared at all. I thought if I can act and I know how to dance, I can easily do 200 films, but that’s not the case.

5. Any challenges you had to face?
Not losing your mind is the biggest challenge when you’re becoming an actor in the Indian film industry.

6. What have been some of the biggest highpoints of your journey so far?
My debut film 1920 with Rajneesh Duggal directed by Vikram Bhatt was I think the biggest highpoint. I was lucky I got to do a movie in the beginning of my career where I could show my acting prowess. After that movie everybody was convinced and no one could question my acting skills.

7. What does family mean to you? How was the lockdown period for you?
I stay with my mom and my granny. My closest friends are my family members. The lockdown has taught us that what’s most important is family. Work comes and goes, but what stays with you is family. During the lockdown I was shooting a Telugu film in a forest in Maharajapuram. We had a small unit and a small crew so we could manage to shoot even during those days as the chance of the virus in the jungle was very remote. I was fortunate to be working even during that time.

8. What are your other passions and hobbies?
I play the piano and the flute and I practice Silambam (Martial art), Mallakhamb and try and do something different every day.

9. What is your vision and dream in this field that you have made a mark for yourself in?
I want to wake up everyday and do something that makes me happy. I like to do things that give me joy. At the moment acting gives me that happiness, so I’m doing it. I’m not the kind of person who makes big lists of what all I have to do in life.

10. What are the changes you want to bring about in the film industry?
We should concentrate and make changes in ourselves first. Change begins when you start changing things within you. Once you do that, the world around will also change. To be a good human being is very important for me. I would like to leave it to the natural course for the changes to happen.

11. February is the month of love. Please share some of the most romantic things anyone has done for you? And your views on love?
All months should be months of love. We shouldn’t just single out and say that there’s only one day or one month. Please spread lots of love and to everyone. Please don’t spread diseases, but spread love. Not just sexually or romantically, but basically love everyone. Learn to even love your enemies. Learn to not be jealous when someone else is doing better than you or bitch about someone who’s not there in front of you. Learn to even love those who don’t love you. Just love unconditionally.

12. What kind of a person are you in your personal space? How do you like to spend your me-time?
I’m an introvert, but I’m not shy. People often mistake introverts for being shy. I’m very private and love spending time with myself. I love my company.

13. How often did you take holidays in the pre COVID days?
I don’t really vacation. My life feels like a holiday as I’m living my dream. It’s a dream that many only dream of and I’m living my dream, so I don’t feel the need to take a vacation from it. However, if we’re filming in some place that’s not Mumbai, I like to walk around and go for some sightseeing. If I’m travelling too much, my house is my place for a holiday. I love my bed which is hard rock solid wood and is such a relief from the extra cushy hotel beds.

14. Any work you can recall that has inspired you?
I loved Ranbir Kapoor in Sanju.

15. You’re also passionate about dance. Do you still practice and which dance form do you like the most?
I’m passionate about dance, because I graduated in Kathak. I enjoy all forms of dance – I love jazz and hip hop. I keep sharing a lot of different forms of dance posts on my social media too and my fans love it, but Kathak is my favourite.

16. Any memorable fan message you’d like to share?
I have a very loyal fan base. Even if I’m trolled on social media, there will be so many comments defending me. It’s like I have my personal army on social media that always stands up for me.

17. Any memorable incidents you’d like to share with us during the shoot of some of your films?
There are many, but especially in Hyderabad for Telugu films, I’ve noticed that people watch films and when they really like you, they book three shows of the same movie back to back in a day. Lot of people know you and your dialogues by heart. I’ve met lot of such people at events and airports where they’re reciting full lines and even full paragraphs from my movies with full emotion. That’s very touching for an actor.

18. Who are your close friends from the industry?
My best friends are actually in the same building that I live in. From the industry Star Kid Radha Sharma is my friend. She has a verified account also called Adah ki Radha. Do check her out (she shares talking about her stuffed toy cat).

19. What has been one of your favourite roles so far that you have played?
It will be my debut films both in Telugu that of Hayati in Heart Attack and Hindi, the possessed Lisa in 1920. I enjoyed my role in Kshanam also as Shweta and most recently I’ve done a short film called Chuha Billi on YouTube. It’s quite a mad role but I really had fun playing it.

20. What are the projects you’re working on currently?
I’m doing Commando 4 with Vidyut Jammwal and love this action genre. I’m also doing an international action film called The Holiday Season 2. Season 1 of the same had us (Aashim Gulati, Priyank Sharma and Veer Rajwant Singh) going to a bachelorette where four of us went to Mauritius. It will be four of us to another international destination now. Now that things are opening up and the Covid situation is getting better, we will be able to fly out soon for the shoot. There are three Telugu films that are ready. One is called Meet Cute from Nani’s Production House, directed by Nani’s sister Deepthi and is fully ready and slated for release. It’s a romantic comedy. There’s another female action Telugu film which I’ve finished shooting too. There’s also Question Mark in Telugu that I’ve finished and waiting for its release. In Hindi, there are two more projects that I can’t talk about now. Sometime in February this year, I’ll be able to talk more on my other new projects that are big for me.

21. What is your view about films in the OTT world of today?
OTT has changed the film industry completely, whether it’s a film or an ad or a music video, or an Instagram video, if it’s good, people will give it the eyeballs. Even if it’s made by the biggest film maker but is not good it won’t get viral. It’s good that mediocrity won’t be worshipped anymore. The lockdown has made people more creative and I’m seeing such great scripts these days. People are giving better roles for girls. I’m so glad that people are thinking of me for such great roles. All the three Telugu films that I’ve done recently have such good roles for me.

22. Was language a problem? How much of the south Indian languages do you know?
Language wasn’t a problem, as we are all working on the language of love, which is universal. We are all making movies for the same reason – for the film to do well. So if we have done our homework, rehearsed our lines before then language isn’t an issue. The problems come when you and your director are not on the same page and are making movies for different reasons.

23. You have acted with some good actors. Would you like to recall some fun incident from any of your shoots?
I’m having fun all the time on shoots. The incidents are too many that I can write a whole book on it. I’ve worked with all kinds of actors. There’s a lot to learn from every actor. If someone’s not a nice person on the set, I get to learn that I don’t want to be like that person. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with Puneeth Rajkumar for my Kannada debut and I saw how humble Puneeth was. He treated everyone equally, from the light man and his staff and my staff. He was just basically a nice man.

24. What are your future plans?
I’m in the middle of a break of a shoot right now as I speak to you and I will eat my lunch after that. I only plan that much into the future. You can only plan all you want, but God’s up there watching and laughing at you and making plans. That’s also one thing that Covid has taught us that nothing goes as per our plans. So, I just plan my day that day and that’s it. I will probably work out in the evening, depending on the traffic and what time I reach home. Right now the plan is to eat lots of dosas for my lunch.

Rapid Fire

1. Your dream role?
I loved Fleabag. I wish someone makes a film like that in India and takes me in it.

2. Dream director?
Rajkumar Hirani. I have many but probably him because of Sanju.

3. Favourite actor and actress?
I love Johny Depp and Kate Winslet.

4. Your pet peeve?
People who put onions in my food. I don’t eat onions, but people still put onions in my food and I don’t like that.

5. Some essentials that are always in your bag?
My bag is large. I have 1 litre water bottle, socks, paints, sanitary stuff and everything you can think of.

6. Yoga or gym?

7. Indian food or global cuisine?
I love south Indian food which is my favourite. I love avial, sambhar, rasam, rice and I can eat it everyday thrice a day, all through the year.

8. Your most treasured childhood memory?
Walking around Pali Hills where my mum would show me different flowers and animals. She also taught me the Bhagwad Gita.

9. Beaches or hills?

10. Veg or non veg?
Vegetarian always. I’m a staunch vegetarian since birth.

11. Fame or money?

12. Indian wear or Western wear?
Anything that’s comfortable in real life. For reel life I’m ready to wear anything.

13. Straight hair or curls?
My natural hair is curly, but for movies whatever my character demands.

14. Your first love?
This torrid secret affair that I had with Leonardo di Caprio as it was in my dreams.

15. A movie you’d recommend?
Don’t Look Up.

16. First thing you notice about a person?
I always notice how people treat other people who can do nothing for them. It says a lot about a person.

17. One thing that makes you feel beautiful?
I had severe acne for a long time. I feel so good that I don’t have acne now.

18. Politics, religion, business, sports or entertainment?
The Indian film industry has all of it in one place.

19. Go out with masks or rather stay home?
Both. I love home, but sometimes you have to go out for work.

20. What does social media mean to you?
It’s like a freedom ground, like a huge park where you can do whatever you want. Now people can look at the real side of me and know my real self, because of social media.

21. How would you define love?

22. What’s your idea of a perfect date?
Back to back four movies. Watching movies in the theatre. I’ve done this before and it’s great as it avoids lot of awkward conversations, or look at that person and avoid making eye contact and you can eat junk food. I think this is romantic.