For this issue we interviewed the brilliantly awesome, stage, screen and voice-over actress, Anjli Mohindra. Her first major television role was as Rani Chandra in The Sarah Jane Adventures, aged just 19, a role she played for four years. She then had supporting roles in several popular shows, including Cucumber (Channel 4), written by Russell T Davies; Paranoid (Netflix); The Boy with the Topknot (BBC Two); and Bancroft (ITV).
Perhaps her highest profile role to date was as the duplicitous Nadia in the multi BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated Bodyguard (BBC/Netflix), Jed Mercurio’s thriller that gripped the nation in 2018. The same year, Anjli starred alongside Tom Riley in ITV crime drama Dark Heart and guested in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (Sky One). Showing a talent for the macabre, she starred in Mark Gatiss’ take on the classic Christmas ghost story, The Dead Room (BBC Four), alongside Simon Callow.
In 2019, Anjli appeared in new drama Wild Bill (ITV), starring opposite Hollywood legend Rob Lowe and in 2020 she appeared as Tiffany ‘Doc Doc’ Docherty alongside Suranne Jones in Vigil (BBC) Tom Edge’s six-part edge of the seat thriller. Anjli is about to take the lead, alongside Paapa Essiedu, in brand new thriller Extinction (Sky), described as a "gripping exploration of memory, fate, and the limits of love".
Anjli has made strides to develop her voice as a writer, winning a place on the Royal Court’s Young Writers’ Programme. In the midst of the pandemic she made her writing debut with a new short film The People Under the Moon (2020) produced entirely during lockdown and as part of the Virtual Collaborators series launched by actor/writer Danusia Samal. She’s committed to re-writing the narrative for game changing South Asian women especially and we’re pretty sure she’ll succeed.
In the depths of a rigorous shoot schedule in Newcastle, Anjli gave us her lightbulb moment, inspirations and weirdest obsession.
WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION?
Everywhere. I think creativity breeds creativity. So if I’m stuck with a character I find that being creative in an abstract way can sometimes unlock something - that might be by painting with my niece, or randomly up-cycling a plant pot. Since reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ I’ve started to realise that the answer to something within can often be discovered outside of yourself- so I try and get about in nature or connect with another human on things completely unrelated to whatever I’m trying to crack. This is working a lot better than my old technique of bashing my head against my wall to seek those bolts of creative spark!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST LIGHTBULB MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
In the first lockdown I joined a free online collaboration project ran by brilliant actress/writer Danusia Samal partnering up writers, directors and actors to create online content! Although I have predominantly been an actress for 15 years I reluctantly decided to enter myself as a writer. It was a real moment of “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”* and I loved every moment. My idea centred around a new fictional video dating app that worked using timed-destructing video messages to share with potential matches, to chart a junior doctor’s journey through the pandemic. It garnered praise from the Radio Times and Russell T Davies gave us a warm review and it kickstarted my career as a writer. I have two writing projects with two major production companies in development! Being able to now also call myself a writer feels thrilling and liberating.
*great book by Susan Jeffers
WHAT'S YOUR WEIRDEST OBSESSION?
Yoga! I almost rolled my eyes at myself as I wrote that. I honestly used to find it toe-curling hearing those Sanskrit words being chanted while sticking my backside in the air. and now I can't get enough of it, bent-extremities and all!
Dedicating some time for my body where my mind doesn’t get to butt in (for the most part) is a real tonic. And my shoulders have never felt so relaxed.
WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU LIVE BY?
‘Why not’ by my mum. My mum is a Jack of all trades and a master of ALL of them. She’s been a bank manager, a court clerk, a primary school teaching-assistant, and a market trader, she taught English as a second language to German speakers, and she’s ran a post office and a pub. She’s incredible. I realise this more so with every passing year. To my frustration as a teenager she’d always ask ‘why not’ whenever I’d express my frustration at not being able to do something. She’s backed me all the way in any of my bizarre choices and has taught me that there is almost always a way forward. And almost always something you can do to inch yourself closer to a goal even if it seems insurmountable. I literally wouldn’t be in this industry were it not for her.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE IS?
Listening. I get so excitable sometimes, and finish peoples sentences - I am so thirsty for knowledge that I’m sometimes too eager to connect dots in my mind and think I have the measure of something without really listening. It’s part of the human condition to want to be understood. People will share if you ask them with genuine interest so I’m learning to shut the f*ck up and just listen!
Join us next month as we interview Stephanie Fuller, the incredibly inspirational CEO of the LGBTQ+ Charity Switchboard, who commissioned our short film The Call earlier this year. As Switchboard heads into its 50th anniversary year in 2024, Stephanie will be leading the staff team and working closely with the Board of Trustees as they push for their strategic goal of “no contact going unanswered”.