Being Anushka Sharma, effortlessly

Anushka Sharma is in a league by herself

The memes around Cannes 2023 continue, thanks to the endless number of trifling Indian celebrities that showed up on its one-time exalted red carpet. Some called it ‘Canned’, others ‘Cannot’. Some called it ‘Chembur’, while still others called it ‘Chowpatty’. I think the famed red carpet was salvaged by one woman—Anushka Sharma—who brought good, old-fashioned glamour back to the zeitgeist.

In one look, Sharma wore a classy ivory rose-ruffled Richard Quinn gown and a neat bun, in another a Prada pink satin blouse with black sequinned pants, her ears cuffed with Cartier jewels. She looked elegant and beautiful alright, but none of these stylish labels overpowered her biggest asset, her giant smile.

In fact, I think Sharma’s greatest allure is the fact that no matter what she wears, her Puma tights or her runway couture, she never lets the outfit own her. Sharma owns the dress, and the room, and the moment.

Anushka Sharma at the Cannes Film Festival 2023 | Getty Images Anushka Sharma at the Cannes Film Festival 2023 | Getty Images

The last time I saw the movie star was at the Dior show at Mumbai’s Gateway of India. She wore a simple columnar sunshine-yellow floor-length dress, and carried a matching tiny Lady Dior bag. I have to admit I completely missed her and her husband, among the world’s most successful sportsmen, Virat Kohli, at the fashion show. They came in and sat down at their seats and barely created a fuss celebrities of their stature are wont to do.

If you just browse through Sharma’s Insta, you’ll see she has a whopping 64 million followers. Very close to Deepika Padukone’s 74 million, and Alia Bhat’s 77 million, but an altogether different personality. Padukone’s beauty is almost supernatural, she can make a gunny sack look like couture. Bhatt, unfortunately, looks 12 years old regardless of how much her army of stylists and makeup staff attempt at infusing some oomph or majesty into her.

But Sharma is in a league by herself. A beautiful face, a skinny frame, a fresh crop of dark choppy hair, and she can make simple clothes seem very stylish. And effortless.

I always feel that dressing up requires time, work, and good taste, and that “effortless beauty” is just an oxymoron. But Sharma just stumps me. She looks like she woke up fresh-faced, rolled her hair up in a rubber band-assisted bun, wore her Ray-ban aviators, and walked out dazzling like a movie star.

Sharma’s filmography is sparse. Since her first film released in 2008, she has had about seven or eight hits as an actor, before she moved on to production. She barely works, taking a long break since her two-year-old Vamika was born. Her last films were Sui Dhaaga and Sanju—both released five years ago. Her next film Chakda ‘Xpress is expected to release this year.

There’s an extraordinariness in her ordinariness, which has often appealed to mass labels like Lavie handbags (it sold bags worth Rs500 crore in FY2023), and Michael Kors (the premium brand is enjoying a great revival in India). She’s also been christened the newest face of the Rs3,000-crore (in India alone) sportswear giant Puma. Sharma is rumoured to charge 08 crore to Rs10 crore per post.

Her 2017 wedding to Kohli is still the most beautiful celebrity wedding till date. Her pink Sabyasachi lehenga sparked a momentous trend that’s still palpable amongst brides. Her red Kadhua Buta Banarasi sari has practically revived the weaving industry in the small town.

Sharma’s real power comes from her insouciance. She may be a successful actor and producer, she may be married to the most famous cricketer in the world, she may live in the most coveted address in Mumbai, but Sharma’s authenticity is her armour. She wears her celebrity as lightly as her couture, making her a rare bird indeed.