By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 18, 2020
Anisa Butt is on time every time. “I don’t know how people can keep others waiting when a time has been given,” she says. She is referring to meetings in Mumbai where if you reach on time, you have to expect a long wait for the other person to arrive. “I mean, it’s ridiculous. You know the state of traffic in the city and if you have to reach on time, you should leave well before time,” she says. “It’s rude to keep the other waiting who has honoured your time; no use blaming the traffic.”
Anisa was responding to a question on the one thing she hates about this city vis-a-vis London, where she comes from.
Today, the UK-based actress, based in Mumbai, celebrates her birthday. She has flown back to London since July 2019, when she went for the screening of the documentary ‘Got Cancer’ which was being screened in Chicago. Currently, the documentary is being aired in LA. ‘Got Cancer’, has been directed by Kankana Chakraborty, originally from Kolkata, now based in Los Angeles. Yuvraj Singh’s YouWeCan has collaborated with the LA-based NGO, ‘Hope-B-Lit’ to produce this documentary.
Apart from acting in the documentary, and the Web Series Code M, which is currently on air, Anisa has been busy with her Podcast, ‘Unplug with Ani’ (running across 10 platforms) which began last February. “I do interviews with people all around the world: entrepreneurs, coaches, artistes, actors… people who are doing different kinds of work whose objective is to somehow impact the other. Every Sunday, the episode that releases is less interview, more candid chat. On Wednesdays, I have an episode which is something very personal to me, what I have learnt from personal experience,” says the actress who has studied sociology, psychology and drama.
Opening Doorz took an appointment for a long-distance WhatsApp phone call and Anisa was on time to take our call.
Your podcast is completing a year next month, have you been able to achieve your objective?
Definitely and more! I didn’t really know what the response would be when I began. However, I have developed a loyal listener following, and continue to reach new people. I’ve also got to interview some incredible people around the world and got so much valuable information and life lessons from them. With many, I have also developed wonderful friendships.
How did the thought or the desire to start a Podcast arise?
I have always enjoyed speaking with people. I have also loved human psychology and behaviour studies. I feel, as an actor, both intertwine very well. I was at one point on a contract for six months with a company in the UAE as a content creator for similar content. Then in 2019, a friend suggested I begin Podcasting and I jumped at that idea.
How are you managing? I mean do you have a team to scour for subjects and set up the interviews?
I had some help from friends initially. However, now it’s more or a less a one-man show! At the moment, I do everything from preparing interviews to creating content around them. I would love to build a loyal team as this continues to grow.
The people you interview are from diverse walks of life; is it a deliberate attempt?
Absolutely; we all have so much to bring to the table. Everyone has a story. You don’t need to be famous to be inspiring.
Which person you have interviewed so far has been the most inspiring for you?
That’s a very difficult question to answer—I can’t possibly pick one. ‘Mind Over Matter’ is a series I thoroughly enjoyed because it was about mental health which is so current and important. I learnt a lot from this series. There is something I honestly have taken from every single person I’ve spoken to. Everyone’s journey has been so inspiring.
How did you get involved in the documentary Got Cancer?
A casting person in New York who I know got me in touch with the team. They reached out while I was in Mumbai and we made it happen! The producer and director are from Los Angeles.
How has been the experience on working on a documentary of this sort, considering there is the involvement of former Indian Test Cricketer and One-Day Champion, Yuvraj Singh, a survivor?
Honestly, it was incredible. The team were super humble. And the cause is beyond all of us. YouWeCan and Hope B Lit are actually changing lives. So this isn’t about making any film; it is raising awareness and funds to change the lives of kids and families who have been hit by cancer.
What do you have to say about this passion of his of spreading awareness and reaching out to cancer patients?
I think his story is very inspirational and it’s wonderful he’s started a Foundation of his own to help with this cause.
Have you interviewed Yuvraj Singh for your podcast?
I have not at present. Honestly, the focus at the moment has not been on famous and known faces, but the people around the world whose stories we do not know.
Have you had a chance to interact with him?
Not as yet. Unfortunately we didn’t meet at the time of shoot.