Seated on a throne framed by two lion sculptures, her eyes are bloodshot and hair dishevelled. “I will not leave anyone without finishing my deeds,” Anushka Shetty fumes in G Ashok’s upcoming trilingual horror-thriller Bhaagamathie.

Speaking to ahead of the movie’s January 26 release, Ashok, who has written and directed the bilingual, said that Shetty has delivered a career-best performance. “Anushka is a brilliant actress,” he said. “Everything from the set to all the other details have come out really well, which has only complimented her acting. I can proudly say that this will be the best performance of her career.”

Produced by UV Creations and Studio Green, Bhaagamathie co stars Unni Mukundan, Jayaram and Asha Sarath. It will be released in Telugu and Tamil.

Bhaagamathie (2018).

Bhaagamathie tells the story of an honest Indian Administrative Service officer Chanchala (Shetty), who is forced into a haunted mansion by corrupt police officers. But the meek Chanchala soon turns into the fiery Bhaagamathie in the trailer. Ashok was tight-lipped about the film’s storyline. “I have already told the story through the trailer, so there will be no interest if I reveal anything more,” he said. “It is a very different film. You will understand when you watch it.”

Ashok described Bhaagamathie as a “screenplay-oriented thriller”. He added, “The story and the concept is very unique. Each and every technician owned the film and made it great.”

Ashok has previously worked on the Nani-starrer Pilla Zamindar (2011) and Sukumarudu (2013). He had readied the Bhaagamathie script in 2012 and had written it keeping Shetty in mind.

“I prepared the script for Anushka, that is for sure,” the director said. “In 2012, we narrated the script to Anushka and she liked it a lot. But she already had commitments like Baahubali and Linga. The dates took some time. But fortunately or unfortunately, we got some clarity on the script and we updated it in a better way in the time. It is not a big deal that I waited for the film, but all the technicians too waited due to the value of the content.”

Bhaagamathie songs.

Ashok said no one could have pulled of the role of of Bhaagamathie better than Shetty. “First of all, she was very keen on getting the graph of the character,” Ashok said. “Only after getting the clarity will she act. Her dedication is something I have never seen. Moreover If we have to depict a queen on the screen, nobody else but Anushka will come to mind.”

But he was quick to add that the choice had nothing to do with SS Rajamouli’s two-part Baahubali series, where Shetty played Devasena, a princess who goes on to become the queen. “I did not write this story after watching Baahubali. I started working on it much before the first movie came out.”

The movie’s name is derived from the Bagmati river that flows through Nepal, Ashok said. “Bhaagamathie is also a name from our own ancient times,” Ashok said. “Hyderabad was formed in the name of Bhagamathi or Bhagi Nagara.”

But it is not an epic or a period film, he clarified. “In the first half, you will crouch to the back of your seat due to fear and in the second half, you will come to the edge of your seat due to excitement and enthusiasm,” he said. “These are the two kinds of experiences you will feel in the film.”

Anushka Shetty in Bhaagamathie (2018).