Anushka Shetty's last release was Bhaagamathie which came out on January 26, 2018. It's been more than a year since the star was seen on screen, but her legion of fans remains intact, as is evident from the responses that her recent pictures with her nutritionist garnered.
Popular in Telugu and Tamil cinema, Anushka Shetty has acted with nearly every top star in both industries, including superstar Rajinikanth. However, she doesn't derive her stardom only because she's acted with certain heroes; her claim to fame is mostly because she has been the hero herself in several films.
Here's a look at some of Anushka's roles that have stolen our hearts:
Devasena: As princess and later Amarendra Baahubali's queen, Anushka Shetty was absolutely regal. Though she appeared as an elderly woman in the first Baahubali film, playing Mahendra's mother, and appearing only for a few scenes, in the second one, she had a pivotal role to play. People couldn't get enough of the chemistry between Amarendra and Devasena, to the extent that rumour mills went on to suggest that Prabhas and Anushka were getting married in real life! Though that hasn't happened, the 'Amarendra-Devasena' theme is quite popular in weddings these days.
Right from her introductory scene when she slashes through the curtain of the palanquin, to walking on Amarendra's shoulders in that memorable boat scene, or the fight scene later where she discovers his true identity, Anushka's arresting screen presence, her ability to wield the sword, and impressive dialogue delivery were remarkable.
Jejjamma: In the film that propelled Anushka to superstardom, she played dual roles – Arundhati and her great grandmother Jejjamma. Released in 2009, Arundhati was a fantasy film with plenty of blood, gore, and sexual violence. However, Anushka was no damsel in distress in the film. Instead, she is the one who sacrifices for her people and also defends them when required.
The actor, who had mostly been seen in glamorous roles thus far, transformed into a performer who could shoulder an entire film. Arundhati became the second highest grossing Telugu film ever at the time of its release. The Tamil dubbed version also did well, making Anushka popular in Tamil Nadu, too.
Rudhramadevi: Anushka is probably one of the few south Indian women actors who could have carried off this role, playing a woman who was brought up as a boy and eventually becomes king. Her physical stature made her look convincing as a strapping man in Rudhramadevi, but she was equally believable as a beautiful, young woman. Nithya Menen played a princess who is married to Rudhramadevi.
Once again, Anushka Shetty showed off her prowess in the stunt sequences, while mesmerising viewers with her dance skills when she relaxed from her male disguise.
Saroja: A role that not many top heroines would choose, Anushka played a sex worker in Vaanam. A multi-starrer with intersecting stories, Anushka's Saroja is a young sex worker who flees the brothel when she realises that her life is in danger. She is accompanied by her friend, a trans woman, and the two of them escape to Chennai to start their own business.
In an industry where women actors are judged harshly for the morality they display on screen, Anushka did not hesitate to give her all for the role – one of the few times sex workers have been portrayed with some dignity and humaneness on screen in Tamil cinema.
Sweety: To play the role of Soundarya, who is also known as Sweety (her birth name and what her fans call her in real life), Anushka put on a whopping 20 kgs. The film, titled Inji Iduppazhagi in Tamil and Size Zero in Telugu, was about the weight loss industry and the harmful shortcuts that people take to shed the pounds.
Refusing to wear a fat suit, Anushka chose to put on weight for the film and later lost it through healthy methods although she was heavily criticised for looking "fat" on screen. Anushka proved why she did the film in the first place by taking time off from work and allowing her body to return to its earlier state without taking any shortcuts. Although the film did not do well at the box-office, it's still a favourite with Anushka's fans, with the actor excelling in comedy and remaining very likable on screen.
Bhaagamathie: Bhaagamathie enjoyed a wide release despite having no prominent male star in the cast because fans were eager to see Anushka repeat the magic of Arundhati. Playing IAS officer Chanchala and the avenging spirit Bhaagamathie, Anushka was terrific in this thriller that takes inspiration from Arundhati but also ends up fooling the audience.
The way people across theatres waited for Chanchala's transformation to Bhaagamathie and the wild cheers that followed established how dearly they love to watch Anushka take charge on screen. And she never disappoints. The film made Anushka the only heroine after Sridevi to have a 1 million dollar grosser at the US box-office.
Varna: In Selvaraghavan's fantasy film Irandaam Ulagam, Anushka played a timid medical student Ramya and the feisty Varna in the parallel world. Once again, Anushka impressed with her quick moves on screen and her ability to look convincing in action sequences. Perhaps no other heroine today can play such contrasting roles in the same film with such ease.
Although Irandaam Ulagam received mixed reviews at the time of its release, there has been greater interest in studying the film in later years.
Anushka's performance in films like Mirchi, Deiva Thirumagal, Singam, and Yennai Arindhal among others, have also won her praise and love from fans and critics alike. Her next film is Silence, where she will be acting with Madhavan, her co-star from Rendu - and the anticipation is already through the roof for it.