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Sonam Kapoor
 
 
 

Before the release of the much-hyped Saawariya starring two new comers, she was unknown quantity. Insiders raved about Ranbir’s dancing skills and acting abilities but little was said about her.

And yet when the film released, it was evident that this 21-year old daughter Anil and Sunita Kapoor, had grace and great screen presence.
Off-screen she’s perky, resolute, well read. And although she’s well into her second one she’s still high on her debut film.

It was a roller coaster ride. I still can’t believe I’ve got off it and that the ride’s over! There were so many highs and lows. It was an amazing feeling. K knew I wanted to be in films and this movie gave me a sense of belonging. It makes me feel I was in the right place at the right time.

The sinking of Saawariya at the box office has evidently not dampened Sonam who chirps on with undiminished intensity, I was a part of a film by one of the most accomplished and applauded directors of our times, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. It doesn’t get better than that!

   
 

The gush is also for Rani Mukherjee and Salman Khan. Rani is one of the very few spontaneous actresses around. She is very self confident and also a phataka! Laughs Sonam. I love her to death and she is my favourite actor. As for Salman Khan, he is a cool dude and hot. He is the most good looking and the sexiest human being ever.
Sonam most definitely speaks only in superlatives! Her enthusiasm is endearing in an industry peppered with the blasé.

She jabbers on, I am the complete opposite of Sakina. Sakina is nothing like me and that’s why I love her. I became an actress so that I could play someone who’s not like me at all. I’m a true Gemini. I am an extrovert. I love meeting people and making friends. But at the same time I love sitting all by myself and reading. I have locked myself in my room and read five books in one day!

She confesses, “The toughest part of acting in Saawariya was being still. There were may times when! Has to be still a lot. And I am usually in emotional havoc all the time. So that was hard for me!”
But all the ups and downs of the roller coaster were forgotten once the day of the premiere of Saawariya dawned a day Sonam readily admits was one of the happiest of her life.

   
 

Sanjay Sir said he felt the premiere was really like a wedding, and I agree with him. So many people from the industry came and saw the film. They all said they loved it. I felt wonderful and blessed. It was the best Diwali ever for me! She beams ecstatically.
Did we hear that right? Loved it? Didn’t she at any point catch on that people were not connecting with the film?
She denies that emphatically. No not at all. I spoke to so may people after and during the interval. They got all the point we were making in the film the intricacies, nuances and so on.
Surely, she didn’t get that feeling from the reviews which were hardly subtle in their criticism?
She looks (feigns?) unconcerned. I don’t read reviews because my father won’t let me. In his 25 years in the industry, dad a single review. Even if I had read them I wouldn’t have paid attention. When you become an actor you become a public figure. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Anyway, she continues a trifle defiantly, “I have been getting such great reactions from everybody that I am very happy!”
In this, she definitely sounds like SLB. But then she did say she’d learned a lot from him!
Despite being part of the New Gen, on the sets of Saawariya, Sonam reverted to an earlier Bollywood practice by joining the ranks of actresses who’d have ‘mom’ in tow on the sets. Sir is extremely protective about me. And my family has full faith in him, so left to themselves they never felt the need to accompany me.

But it was Sanjay Sir who told my parents that one of them should be on the sets as he wouldn’t be able to take care of me all the time, explains Sonam.

Perhaps Bhansali knew better than anyone else of the dangers that lurked – especially the danger of two youthful, attractive costars getting too close to each other. Maybe the incident when he’d reportedly caught the two of them together in a vanity van while they were assisting him on an earlier film was at the back of his mind.

Sonam’s response: I was so flabbergasted when I read that vanity van story. It was really weird, more so cost it was the first time I was linked with anyone. Ranbir and I were working together as assistants to Mr. Bhansali at that point. But there was nothing between us at that time. We were never together in a van – they were for Rani Mukherjee and Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. We were working on the sets. We assistant directors has a room which 15 of us would share. Ranbir is a buddy, my best friend. He has been a friend forever. I was happy to know that he would be my costar in my debut film since I didn’t have to be self conscious with him. I can behave any way I want to, I can let go and he won’t judge me. As a person he is the most amazing human being. He is patient, sweet, soft-spoken, protective and extremely intelligent, which most people don’t know. He is great with numbers. He is brilliant. Also, he never forces his opinion on others. He will suggest but never push. His only flaw is that he is too much of an introvert.

“Sanjay Sir said he felt the premiere was really like a wedding, and I agree with him. So many people from the industry came and saw the film”

Obsessed from an early age with cinema, Sonam attended the United World College in Singapore to learn art direction, rather then acting. How did her proclivities shift?

I am working as an actress because I am passionate about acting. It’s not my bread and butter as God has been kind. I don’t need to do films back-to-back, I have the luxury of choice. I will never do films for the money. I love working and acting. I am not in the industry to become rich but to do good work. That does not mean I am going to be dependent on my parents, but I don’t need that much money to survive either. I am not going to be aggressive about bagging roles.

Ten years ago, Sonam was a fat little kid. She lost a lot of weight for Saawariya. No, she corrects, “I lost the weight for myself. I lost 30 kilos by switching to comfort food. I wasn’t off food, just the fried stuff and sweets. It’s easier to lose weight when you are younger, yet not that easy! It look me over six months to lose that much weight, but I was going slow because I didn’t want to stress my body too much. One should eat healthy and work out daily, no matter what your age. I was helped by my trainer Sherja Vakil and his partner Munisha.

Pre-release OSO and Saawariya hype pitted Sonam against Deepika Padukone, since both were making their debuts. Popular opinion maintains that she has the Rani Mukherjee girl-next-door charm while Deepika has the Ash-appeal.

How does Sonam view the competition from Deepika?

She is appealingly honest. “Deepika is so beautiful that I don’t think I can compete with her. I loved her in that Himesh Reshammiya video. After seeing her in that I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!’ she’s way ahead of me. I don’t think you can survive in this industry by worrying about what others are doing. If you don’t concentrate on your work, and improve yourself, then you can never be successful, she observers sensibly.

Currently her dad Anil Kapoor is looking after her work. He’s been making time in between his own shooting schedules, to listen to scripts and meet producers, as he tries to choose the best possible for his daughter. “He is the best dad in the world and he knows what is best for me. He loves working in the film industry, so he never had any reservations about me joining films. But mom sure was shocked. She didn’t want me to miss out on my studies at the University. My sister is in New York University and my mom’s family has bankers and doctors, so she stressed a lot on proper education. But as long as I am happy, she is too. I look up to my dad and take his advice very seriously. He has been handling most of my meetings and offers. I am here because I am passionate about cinema. So I will be extra choosy and picky.

And now stand by this year for her superlatives on Rakeysh Mehra, Abhishek Bachachan and Dilli 6, her next assignment. Sonam along with her dad, heard the narration given by Mehra and after the first meeting Anil Kapoor and his beti both okayed the subject and film. The grapevine says that Mehra first considered Deepika Padukone, then Vidya Balan. Both turned down the film before he thought of Sonam. The buzz adds that UTV, the producers of Dilli 6, agreed to pay Sonam a hefty sum for the movie, the kind newcomers normally don’t get. “It’s great doing Dilli 6, Sonam reports. “I love acting and so I’m glad to be back on a film set.

And then there is Vishal Bharwaj’s next, which she’s reportedly been approached for. She says, I trust my dad to make the right decisions as he has vast experience. As for me, I just want a good script!

And even if she’s not spelling it out we will – she needs a genuine box-office blockbuster this time around.


 
 
 
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