Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sonam Kapoor

“I don’t think I’ve mastered anything. I’m still nervous at everything

By Ankita R. Kanabar

(This interview has been published in the January 24, 2015 issue of Super Cinema)

Contrary to her ‘fashionista’ image, Sonam Kapoor prefers doing films that don’t just confine her to being a glam doll. Her choices of projects, ever since the start of her career, are testaments to that. Meet her and lot of things come across as a surprise, except the fact that she stands true to being a style icon. From politics of the country to the economics behind a film, she can have a conversation about anything, but here, we get talking about her latest release, ‘Dolly Ki Doli’ and all about acting! Here’s Kapoor in a candid (as always) chat.

You usually like preparing for a character you essay, so what was the kind of homework required for ‘Dolly Ki Doli’?
Yes, I did workshops with my director and my co-stars. I read a couple of books, saw a few films and videos. I actually wrote a lot and went into the past of this character. The film was only taking place between 15-20 days of her life. It wasn’t a long time frame, so it was important to understand what made her the way she is and how she would react to situations. The thing about Dolly is that she’s a complete opposite of me. She always thinks before she speaks or does anything which I’m not known for, obviously (laughs). She’s very calculating, and nothing she does is spontaneous, so it took a while to get those things.

You sport different looks in the movie, so a lot of detailing must have gone into that? Your look in the first poster also created instant buzz.
I think it comes from my image that whenever the first poster or teaser of a film comes out, everyone just talks about my look. This reaction was so good, I was very happy. It was important that the first look poster reflects my character in the film. So the jacket, shades and daaru ka bottle, all of it reflects how Dolly is. In the film, she is different when with different people. When you see it, you’ll get it!

In the film you con people, but in real life, have you been conned?
I think I have been, a lot. My mom always says that one always sees the negative in people that you they have in themselves. I feel it’s the same with positives. Because I’m so straightforward and honest, I expect everyone to be that way and I trust people very easily, I’m extremely gullible and I feel like a lot of people take advantage of that. So, I don’t know about con but a lot of people do take advantage of me and I also find out about it eventually, but I let go off it, because I was stupid enough to trust these people in the first place.

‘Raanjhanaa’, ‘Bewakoofiyaan’, ‘Khoobsurat’ and now ‘Dolly Ki Doli’…there does seem to be a conscious effort to choose different roles.
Every character I do is different from the role I’ve done in the past. I don’t want to do something which is going to be similar to what I’ve done before. I know how you’ll feel when you’ll are supposed to interview the same person again and again. They give you the same answers. It’s the similar case. I don’t want monotony to set in, I want to wake up in the morning and look forward to go to work. I try to do different things and put myself into situations which are alien to me. The only way you can grow as an artiste and person is when you are put in situations which are out of your comfort zone. That’s how you learn about your craft and hone your skills, so I choose to do various things otherwise it gets very boring.

Not to mention, roles that are meaty as opposed to being the hero’s side-kick?
I have got roles which have stuff to do in the film. They’re not flower pot roles. Because these few films in recent times have done well, people think they’re women-oriented films that I’m doing. They’ve forgotten my earlier films. ‘Mausam’ is one of the performances very close to my heart, but it wasn’t really focused on me. I think I was good in it and I loved working with Pankaj Kapur. Even a film like ‘Delhi 6’; it didn’t do that well, but for me it’s one of my best performances. It’s not like I should dominate a film. And whether or not a film does well, I hope my characters are remembered.

How do you usually gauge a film’s success?
According to me it doesn’t matter who is in the film. If the film is a good film, it’ll do well. If it connects with the audience, it’ll run, unless you are Salman Khan or Shah Rukh Khan, because anything they do will work. The way we had Michael Jackson, or the way we have Rajinikanth, or Rajesh Khanna in his times, my dad also had it for a while – the industry has very few people like that. They are loved so much that whatever they do, people will go and see. But for the rest of us, mortals, it has to be a good film and it has to be something that people can connect with. I try to choose films which I think people will like to watch. Then the audience’s loyalty comes in. A lot of people liked ‘Khoobsurat’ and so they would want to watch ‘Dolly Ki Doli’. That 10-15 per cent loyalty comes because of that. More often than not, from the first trailer, people understand whether they want to watch a film or not.  

Were you happy with the kind of response ‘Khoobsurat’ got?
For the budget that it was made in, ‘Khoobsurat’ did extremely well. The business kept growing every day. Word of mouth really helped it. We got an opening which was decent but every day it was growing and internationally it did really well. I keep saying it’s blessed, but I think it has a lot to do with the marketing and PR team’s hard work, because people need to even know about the film to go to the theatre. What we should have done was, we should have increased the number of screens of the film. We thought 900 screens would be enough because it was a chic flick, romantic comedy, we didn’t expect families to go even though it was a family film. So, we were really happy with what ‘Khoobsurat’ did. With ‘Dolly Ki Doli’ it’s the same. It’s a family film, an entertaining film. Again, we didn’t release it in crazy number of screens, just 200-300 screens more than ‘Khoobsurat’ and we’ve also made it in a similar budget.

Do you even pay attention to these economics before you sign a film especially, when it’s not opposite a big star?
Fortunately, I’m sensible about the films I’m going to be a part of. I don’t want to choose to be a part of a film that will be a burden on me or put pressure on me. I need to do films which are easy to make and promote.

In an earlier interview, you’d told me that you needed respite after a film like ‘Raanjhanaa’, and films like ‘Khoobsurat’ or ‘Dolly Ki Doli’ helped. Do you get so involved with and affected by your characters?
It depends on the character I’m playing. After, ‘Raanjhanaa’, I was a wreck.  When I started the film I was a certain weight and by the end of the film I had lost six kilos. Because we did it the film chronologically, if you see ‘Raanjhanaa’, you can actually see a distinct wear and tear. It took me at least four to five months to get out of that. Especially the second half of the film was too draining. When I cry, I don’t use glycerin or anything. You need an emotional reserve for that, and I felt empty after the film. But then I got a beautiful film like ‘Khoobsurat’ which made me happy and positive, full of love and all about pretty things. It was like rejuvenation. So yes, I needed a film like ‘Khoobsurat’ and ‘Dolly Ki Doli’ to move on to films which are going to be tougher on my psyche. It’s not like I wasn’t really involved in these films, but they weren’t like emotionally wrecking films. You’ve actually posed a very difficult question, because yes, you’re right in a lot of ways, but the answer is really complex and subjective.

Also such films do seem to come naturally to you?
Whether you’re good at it or not, I feel comedy is as difficult as drama. You need a lot of rehearsal, to do comedy right. I don’t think I’ve mastered anything. I’m still nervous at everything. But, I guess people enjoy seeing me in comedy or real-girl roles. People enjoy me in roles like ‘Raanjhanaa’, ‘Delhi 6’, or ‘Dolly Ki Doli’ which seem more real.

Which is that one film that you treasure the most?
It’s a very sentimental reason but ‘Aisha’, because my sister was 21 and I was 23 when we made that film and we didn’t have any support. My dad was in LA, working on ‘24’. PVR was kind enough to give us money to make the film. The film was special in a lot of ways. We made an audience which loved the film and that audience translated into ‘Khoobsurat’. My sister and I, started this partnership together and that’s when I realised that my sister is my true partner when it comes to anything and we can even work together. We were so stupid and young. I feel if we’d made it two years later, it would have been a much better film but to make this film at the age of 21 and 23 was a big achievement. And we had the best time making it, because everyone working on the film was our friend. So, it was like a bunch of friends coming together and making a film. A lot of people didn’t like it. They felt, a bunch of rich kids was making a film about rich kids but it was ‘Emma’. She was not like other Jane Austen heroines who were ideal. She’s like a spoilt brat who wanted to get married. It was supposed to be a fun, happy chic-flick, which was there weren’t any in Bollywood at that point, so we made that. But people who’ve liked it are die-hard fans of the film.

How’s ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo’ turning out to be for you?
Well, working with Sooraj Barjatya is definitely a high point. And, because I’ve worked with Salman Khan in ‘Saawariya’, it’s like a rehash. It’s so amazing. When he walks in, you know a star is walking in and we all feel so tiny in front of him!

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