Quirky, artistic, and brilliantly unconventional, Anjali Sivaraman manifests in work that sets her apart. She talks about her three passions – Music, acting and modeling, in a candid chat with Indian Ad Divas.
You have an amazing voice. Where did your love for singing originate from?
Music is in my blood. My mom is a singer. All our family functions would consist of everyone gathering around and singing – that was our idea of bonding. In school, I was in the choir. There was music all around me. I did have this rebellious phase, where I quit my singing class without telling my mom. Many years later, I realized the importance of formal training, so I am back at it again.
What is your music style, and who is your favorite musician?
My style of music is Jazz Blues, and I am working on perfecting that right now. I will move on to other forms as well. I am a huge Ella Fitzgerald fan.
Growing up, were you interested in acting and modeling as well?
Like singing, my love for acting originated from my mother, as well. Both my mother [Chitra Sivaraman] and sister [Aditi Sivaraman] are incredibly talented actors. I grew up watching them act. I was never as gifted as them. I used to participate in school plays, but that was as far as I had gone. My family kept encouraging me to pursue the art form, but I wasn’t confident enough. I had to work a lot to get better at acting. I didn’t think I had the height or the body type for modeling, so I never even considered it.
So then how did you end up pursuing it professionally?
I was working as an Assistant Director at a music studio in Mumbai. I was hanging out with a friend after work; she was on her way to an audition. She asked if I was interested in tagging along. I figured, why not? I was utterly frazzled after a tiring day at work. My hair was a mess; I had no make-up on. Everyone around me was tall with long and straight hair, face full of makeup. It was quite intimidating.
I was sure I was not going to make it. By some miracle, the casting team selected me. That is how I did my first commercial for Vivo (with Ranveer Singh), completely by chance. Casting directors and agencies then started approaching me. Four years down the line, I am still doing it.
What are some routines you follow to make your day productive?
I wouldn’t say all my days are productive (chuckles), but I do follow some routines that help me stay organized as a freelancer. I make it a point to exercise for at least half an hour every day. I try to do as many test shoots as I can to enhance my portfolio. On top of that, my new year’s resolution was to travel more, experience life, and try out new things. I recently did a diving course in the Maldives. It was the most incredible experience. It motivated me to keep chasing experiences that make me happy.
What are some ads that you really enjoyed working on?
I had a great time shooting for the Tinder ad, primarily because I was encouraged to be myself. The director kept asking me, “What would you do? How would you react?” that made the process feel natural and organic. That comfort translated on screen as well.
All the commercials you have been a part of have creative storylines. Is it a conscious decision to only be involved in projects that excite you?
I have tried my best to do work that complements my personality. At the end of the day, whatever work we do, we are building a plan for ourselves. And this is the person I want to be seen as – fun, loving, quirky, and youthful. I firmly believe that we get what we manifest. This is perhaps why I get drawn to projects that do justice to my style.
You have also modeled for renowned fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukharjee. How was that experience?
It was honestly a dream come true. I have not come across anyone more professional and dedicated than Sabyasachi Sir. He is exceptionally committed to his craft. I have done a couple of shoots for him, and I always find myself hoping it doesn’t end. I get messages on Instagram from girls asking me how they can become Sabyasachi models. I realize how lucky I am. I want to treasure every second of it.
You have quite a unique look and an unconventional aura about you. Do you get that a lot? Does it help in your profession?
I do get it a lot. I don’t look like your typical model. It works both ways. I get put in a niche category. People approach me for roles that are different and quirky. It is not like I get hoards of work, but the work I do get is the kind I enjoy, so I am not complaining. (chuckles)
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Would you say you are following your passion?
I would most definitely say I am. It is quite sad that not everyone gets that chance. I wish Indian parents gave their children more liberty to follow their dreams. The world would be a nicer place if everyone listened to their hearts.
You have been in the showbiz for around four years now. What is something you have learned from this experience?
Life is going to throw a lot of curveballs your way, and it is up to you how you deal with it. You can either wallow in your own misery, or you can take that curveball, throw it right back and keep walking forward. There will be loads of people who will try to stop you from doing what you want to do, but it is entirely up to you if you are willing to give them that power. My biggest learning in the industry has been to take control of my life and my actions.
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Where do you see yourself ten years down the line?
I honestly don’t even know where I will be one year from now, but I have made myself a retirement plan. It is a little offbeat, but stay with me. The idea is to save money, buy some land, and open my own bed and breakfast. It’ll have five rooms, a boutique, and an amazing view of the ocean. So yes, that is where I see myself chilling a few decades down the line. (Laughs)