Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sonakshi Sinha

“I don’t want to be challenged. I’m very happy in my space”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview has been published in the June 29, 2013 issue of Super Cinema)

She’s on her 10th film, she is working with the biggest names in the industry, and the audience adores her! All this belies the very fact that Sonakshi Sinha is just two and a half years old in the industry. This woman is certainly on a roll! What really is commendable on her part is the confidence she exudes even as she accepts criticism coming her way. Now, let’s get to my rendezvous with her. It’s a gloomy day with the rains expressing their love for the city. I reach ‘Ramayan’ and wait for Sonakshi at the 9th floor of her beautiful, plush house. The bevy of awards she’s received from all over, for being the most promising newcomer, and the youth icon, adorn the room. Just as I take a look at those awards and settle down, she enters. Her hair all tied up, she put her geeky side to display with big glasses, and almost no make-up. We get talking, and Sonakshi shares her experience of her upcoming film ‘Lootera’. We speak about her parents, and her thoughts on love! I also discover the various aspects of her personality. Interestingly, just as I’m leaving, after the interview, thinking about the wonderful person Sonakshi is, I bump into her beautiful mother, and well, now I know that it’s just her upbringing that makes Sonakshi the person she is. So, here we have, Shotgun junior, in full-on candid mode!

The promos of ‘Lootera’ look beautiful. Was the experience of working on the film, just as beautiful and smooth?
It was far from it. Yes, it has been the most fruitful experience, but that’s because it was so difficult. I’ve learnt so much on this film. There were so many hurdles we had to cross through. Vikramaditya Motwane and I, come from a very different school of thought. He’s a very disciplined director, I’m a very spontaneous actor. Once the camera switches off, I switch off, and I can act only when the camera is on. But Vikram always sort of expects you to be in character and stay in that zone, which I don’t understand how to do. So, you know, we’ve had our little arguments, fights, we’ve pulled each other’s hair out, but we’ve made the film. When he came to me with the script, it was the most beautiful script I’ve ever heard. When he was narrating the role of Pakhi, I believed at that point of time that this role was written only for me, only I could play this role.  It was the 3rd or 4th film I signed, and at that point of time, a lot of people told me ‘don’t do this film, it’s too early in your career, we don’t know whether you’d be able to pull it off, you need to be a mature actress to play this,’ so that’s when I actually took it up as a challenge.

But, ‘Lootera’ is different from the other films you’ve done so far. So it may have demanded more preparation from your end, isn’t it?
It looks like that, but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t prepare. I don’t get into rehearsals, I can’t read too much. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t do it. I get conscious, shy, and weird while doing it. It just doesn’t feel right when the camera is not on. So, I guess I leave a lot of room for spontaneity, and that’s what acting is right? You catch spontaneous moments every now and then, and that’s the beauty of it. But, for this particular film, yes, it’s set in the 1950s, it’s very different from what I’ve been doing, definitely, but our core team, Vikram and his cameraman, costume designer, the sound guys, his team of ADs, all of them were so good at their job, so much research they’d done, that for me, it was like everything laid on a platter. I just had to slip into my saree, and become Pakhi.

You said you cannot really act when the camera is not on. So, does that make your transition from film to film, and character to character simple?
At any given time, I’m shooting 3-4 films together, which is so much fun. I love being a different person every other day, I really enjoy it, but like I said, I switch on and off with the camera. So, I don’t come back home with a character, I don’t dwell on it, or sit and think too much into it. I go on a set, I find out what I have to do, and I do it. People think it’s rocket science, but it’s really not. I like observing people, I like watching people, so when a character comes to me and the director tells me about how the character is, I probably have come across someone like that in my life, who I use as homework. But, each one of my characters has Sonakshi in them; I cannot lose that part of me. If I feel something doesn’t feel right, doesn’t feel natural, I won’t do it. I won’t look natural or comfortable doing that. So, I don’t do it.

When you’re a public figure, it may not be very easy to deal with what’s being written about you, especially if you’re sensitive. How do you deal with that?
Yes, I’m sensitive, I’m emotional, but I’m also practical at the same time, which I don’t know how I balance, because they’re very different things. I don’t read too many tabloids, newspapers, so usually I miss out the bad stuff, because I’m so involved in my work, that it goes by without reaching me. Sometimes, things are written, but that’s okay. You tend to develop a thick skin, as and when you grow as a person, being in the industry. I just ignore things really well. Fortunately, for me, I can take a joke on myself, so I don’t take some things that are written about me very seriously. I laugh it off. Also, I don’t give that opportunity for people to write much, I’m a very private person anyway. I know how to balance my personal life, and work life. I know how much I need to share.

Two and a half years in the industry, back-to-back films, and endorsements. Have you settled here finally?
Yes, and very well. I thoroughly enjoy it. Although, I do crib and cry for a break every now and then, which I don’t get, but, you know for me it’s like, you reach for the moon, get the stars, something like that has happened. I enjoy it, I love doing my work. It’s commendable, yes. I’m very proud of myself, that in two and a half years, I’m working on my 10th film right now. It’s kind of unbelievable! Touchwood, I’ve been fortunate, but I also won’t disregard the fact that I’m very hardworking, very punctual, I do my work well, I enjoy my work. These are the factors that work for you, and push you ahead. I also have a good working rapport with everybody I’ve worked with so far. I think I’ve grown every single day, with every film I’ve worked on. Every new film that I start, I learn so much more. So, yes it feels like I’ve settled in.

You were considered a star right after your first film! Did you ever think it was all happening too fast for you? It must have taken a while to sink that in.
I think it did take a while for that to sink in, because I never wanted to be an actor, so, for that to happen to someone who didn’t expect it, it was just too much. But I feel truly fortunate, and blessed. I’m glad that in a film like ‘Dabangg’ which was totally a Salman Khan film, people noticed a newcomer. Till today, wherever I go, they make me repeat the dialogue, and that’s something nice. It’s something that’s going to stay with me forever. I really appreciate that, and I’m thankful I was accepted, despite being slightly different, and not the typical Hindi film heroine.  

But I think, the fact that you weren’t the typical Hindi film heroine, worked for you…
Being different is what worked for me dad, and that’s what worked for me as well, and I take great pride in that.

You speak your heart out, and also are slightly ‘muffat’ in a good way. Yet, how do you avoid sounding arrogant?
Nobody has told me that I’m arrogant, so far, which is good. For that, the credit goes to my parents. Their upbringing has been very strong; it always kept us rooted, right from the beginning. So, that really goes a long way, and has helped us keeping our head on our shoulders. And when people tell me that, people tell them that, they feel so proud. There’s a very thin line between being ‘muffat’ just for the sake of it, and being honest. Let me tell you, I’m very politically correct, I’m very diplomatic, but I’m honest as well. I will not say something just for the sake of it, to hurt anybody’s sentiments, or to make a headline, or to get noticed, which is the norm these days. I like to steer clear on that. I’m very happy in my space, I’m very content with my work and the way it’s going.

While you didn’t have to struggle to get your first film, do you think the struggle and challenge for you began post ‘Dabangg’, to sustain that performance?
Definitely, I mean, I’ve not been through a struggle. I know what a struggle is because I’ve heard stories from my dad and how he struggled. I’ve not even been through a tiny toe of that. But yes, first film being successful, people have a lot of expectations from you. But post ‘Dabangg’, I was busy doing the kind of films I enjoyed seeing as an audience. I wanted to be a part of these big films with action, romance, drama. I was getting the opportunity to work with the biggest stars in the country, so I took it up and I really enjoyed. Then came along a film like ‘Lootera’, that gave me the opportunity to show people that I can do this as well.

So, you are very happy in your skin, and content in your space?
I don’t want to be challenged. I’m very happy in my space. I’m doing what I want to do and I’m doing that on my own terms. What do I have to prove to anybody? Nothing. I’m free. There are a lot of people who think like they have something to prove all the time. I don’t think like that. I get very happy when the people I work with, appreciate my work. Being repeated in their films is a reward in itself, it means that you’ve done something right. I meet so many people when I go for promotions, people who interact with me on twitter are so appreciative, and that’s a direct connect. When they tell me they liked my film, or promos or songs, then that’s a job well done. That’s what gives me satisfaction, that’s what makes me happy. Not the end result like 100 crores, or the figures that the media likes to splash all over. It’s my work, how much fun I had while shooting a film, what I got to learn from it that matters, that’s what gives me satisfaction. I think I’m happy being that way. I won’t be pretentious saying, ‘Oh I need satisfaction, I’m an actor.’ I want to work in films that I enjoy working on, that I like to see as an audience, films where I want to spend money, buy a ticket, sit in the theatre and clap.

And apart from the love from people, what is it that makes Sonakshi happy?
I like going away some times. I rarely do I get a break, but when I do, I like travelling, I really like travelling.  I get to travel so much because of my work, but I don’t get to see much of a place I’d like to, as I would when I go without a film unit. Travelling makes me happy.

Today, how do your parents react to your work? Are they strict as parents, or are they like friends?
My mom is strict, my dad is lenient. He is the one who pampers us, and my mom is the one who keeps the balance. It’s not really a friendly thing, it’s a parent-child thing only. My dad is very partial to me; he thinks I can do no wrong. He loves everything that I do. He loves to watch my movies. In fact, the first movie that my dad saw in a theatre, after 15-20 years was ‘Dabangg’. He never went to a theatre for that long to watch a film, but when ‘Dabangg’ released he went. He makes it a point to go now to the theatre, to watch every film of mine that releases. He goes to Gaeity, Galaxy, my father, can you imagine? So, yes, they’re very proud and my day is made when my parents tell me they’re proud of me.

Is there anything that you don’t like about being an actor?
I like most of it. I really like the fact that you can reach out to so many people, inspire them, influence them in a certain way. I don’t like the clichéd bit, like invasion of privacy and all. Actually, I don’t like the extra-curricular activities that you have to do, like the events, appearances, parties. I don’t deal with it. You’ll barely see my out, for page 3 parties or anything, because I’m so busy doing my films. That’s my main concentration, that’s where my focus is. Only when I have to do it, I do it. I’ll rather let my work talk than go out look pretty smile, and get talked for it, what’s the point!  

Up next for you is ‘Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobara’, how has that experience been?
That again is a fantastic role for me. The fact that I had to romance these two different personalities in the film, create a separate kind of chemistry with Imran and Akshay, it was very challenging so I really enjoyed that. It gave me a high. Akshay, I’ve worked with him before, and it’s always a pleasure working with him. And Imran, he’s a really nice person, he’s so sweet, he always talks about his wife which is so cute. I keep telling him where have you come from? He’s a really nice boy, and I quite enjoyed working with him.

Then there’s also ‘Rambo Rajkumar’, ‘Bullet Raja’ and ‘Thupakki’ remake. Now that’s quite an interesting line-up!
I’m excited for ‘Rambo Rajkumar’ because I’m working with Shahid for the first time. Then ofcourse, there’s Prabhu sir who I thoroughly enjoy working with. I love his films, and his style of working. We have a lot of fun on the sets. Now, I’ve become half Tamil only. He just has to look at me, and I know what he wants. We have a good tuning. I’ve had a very nice experience working on ‘Bullet Raja’ as I’m working with Saif and Tigmanshu Dhulia for the first time. And the ‘Thupakki’ remake, which has been shifted to January. And it’s been speculated that the title of the film is ‘Pistol’, but that’s not the title. The film hasn’t been names yet.

And obviously, your on-screen love stories, must not be leaving any time for love and romance off-screen!
I don’t get any time. I like being romantic if given an opportunity. Everything has a time in your life, there’s a phase for everything. Right now it’s my working phase and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. When love has to come, it will come. I don’t want to push it, or keep looking for it. I’ll wait, and when it comes, I know, it will be beautiful.

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