Starweek - - Star Cover Story -

She did not care when they called her just a glam­our fig­ure, nor when she read about her imag­i­nary break-ups and make-ups in the pa­pers. Known for hav­ing her foot in the mouth usu­ally, she turned out to be can­did yet po­lit­i­cally cor­rect this time. As to the pub­lic per­cep­tion of her be­ing a rebel, she is busy be­ing in her own skin. In the briefest in­ter­view of her ca­reer, Priyal Shah at­tempts to de­ci­pher what Sonam Kapoor re­ally is about.

Cut­ting through the traf­fic sig­nals that strangely de­cide to turn red when it was my turn to cross them, I fi­nally reach the plush ‘Shringar’— the res­i­dence of the Kapoor bunch. While I twid­dle my thumbs in the ‘in­ter­view room’ (one of the classi­est ever), I bore wit­ness to any cin­ema lover’s per­fect fan­tasy. Stacked in the shelves were the best works of the mav­er­icks — from Chap­lin to Tarkovsky — star­ing back at me.

Mo­ments later, dolled up in a polka tu­nic and tights, Sonam Kapoor en­tered through the heavy doors, apolo­getic for her never-end­ing tele­phonic in­ter­views. I in­stantly got on to business, fir­ing ques­tions on her up­com­ing movie. “Dolly Ki Doli is look­ing great; I am quite ex­cited about it. Peo­ple are re­ally en­joy­ing the trail­ers and the songs. I play a role that of a con artist who has a fake fam­ily help­ing her con peo­ple. It’s an ex­cit­ing role for some­one like me be­cause every­body sees me as this happy nice per­son, so to play some­one you are not, is quite ex­cit­ing.”

Dolly ki Doli is her sec­ond shot at com­edy, after Khoob­surat. After a long spell of dra­mas, we won­der if there arose a sud­den need to be a part of come­dies. Sonam how­ever blames it on the popular de­mand. She adds, “Peo­ple like me do­ing more of com­edy and so the direc­tors vi­sion me in such roles. Khoob­surat was a com­edy; whereas Dolly Ki Doli is a dram­edy — close to be­ing a rom-com. This time I am not do­ing a slap­stick com­edy like I did in Khoob­surat.”

How­ever, what re­mains common, is her track record of work­ing with non-stars and in­tro­duc­ing them to star­dom. We saw that with Dhanush in Raan­jhanaa, and then with Fawad Khan in Khoob­surat. Does that make her ev­ery promis­ing new­comer’s lucky mas­cot? “I hope I am lucky for ev­ery­one. My name Sonam means lucky — the one who brings for­tune.”

Peo­ple like me do­ing more of com­edy”

The con­ver­sa­tion soon veers to­ward her up­com­ing movie, and her joy of work­ing with the team. But as the clock ticks away, her an­swers turn crispier. Con­cerned for my cover story length, I sheep­ishly ask her about her curt an­swers, half ex­pect­ing a de­nial. Sonam, fash­ion­ably owns it! “They are such cute small an­swers!” (gig­gles).

Not help­ing mat­ters, I de­cide we rather talk about her rare pres­ence at the award func­tions. “I got nom­i­nated a lot last year for Raan­jhanaa, but I didn’t end up go­ing for any award func­tions be­cause I was shoot­ing for Khoob­surat. I don’t have any ide­al­is­tic or po­lit­i­cal agenda for not go­ing to award func­tions.” Then why the ab­sence? “Un­for­tu­nately I’ve al­ways never been in town be­cause the sea­son of award func­tions, is the best time to shoot a film. It is win­ters, the weather is beau­ti­ful, the light is great and I hardly do films abroad. I do a lot of them in In­dia. The first time when I got nom­i­nated for Saawariya, I was shoot­ing for Delhi-6. And when I was nom­i­nated for Delhi-6, I was shoot­ing for Aisha. I’ve only at­tended three award func­tions in the eight years of be­ing in the in­dus­try.”

Okay, but keep­ing the is­sues of film sched­ule clash­ing with award dates apart, Sonam does take awards se­ri­ously. “Hon­estly, I’ve been nom­i­nated since my first film. It’s just that I have never ac­tu­ally at­tended the awards or re­ceived them. It has al­ways been a nom­i­na­tion and I think that’s a great way to get peo­ple to take you se­ri­ously.” And that is one area Sonam’s ca­reer has strug­gled in. When she first came in, Sonam was just another star kid, then just a fash­ion­ista and now, slowly an ac­tress. How­ever, her pres­ence in the many func­tions this year has raised a few more mis­un­der­stand­ings. “Since this year I had the time, I at­tended and peo­ple were like ‘oh you are nom­i­nated’, but hello! I was nom­i­nated way more last year than what I was this year. So it’s a mat­ter of per­cep­tion.”

The per­cep­tion might be tak­ing a turn this year with her much pub­li­cised project with Sal­man Khan. Any­way, my ‘usual’ ques­tions had dried up, and so were Sonam’s re­hearsed an­swers. “Sal­man Khan is so amaz­ing and great to work with.” While be­ing a Sooraj Bar­jatya film, her fans might be taken aback with her change from a glama­zon to sati sav­itri. Sonam is un­in­hib­ited though. “Soora­jji is such a treat to work with. It’s one of those dreams which you don’t be­lieve are real and ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is a typ­i­cal Sooraj Bar­jatya film with an In­dian girl with great val­ues.”

But step­ping into her eighth year in the in­dus­try, Sonam has al­ready seen many phases. Right from be­ing a style icon on the red car­pet here to rep­re­sent­ing In­dia in Cannes, Sonam also man­aged to si­lence her de­trac­tors when she was nom­i­nated for seg­ments beyond clothes and glam­our. “It feels amaz­ing to get val­i­da­tion for the kind of work that I choose to do.” And was styling Ar­jun Kapoor for Te­var, one of her choices? “No, just once or twice I went to Ar­jun’s (Kapoor) house and told him what to wear and what not to, but it’s my sis­ter Rhea Kapoor who has styled him for Te­var.”

And with her sis­ter’s name crop­ping up in the con­ver­sa­tion, topic of her pro­duc­tion house was bound to come in. “Our next will be Bat­tle For Bit­tora, di­rected by Shashanka Ghosh, while Fawad Khan and I play the leads,” she chirps. And it is the same Fawad Khan, who was her din­ner date that night. Not in­tend­ing to start any ru­mour here, Sonam is only catch­ing up with her very fetch­ing Pak­istani munda, who was in town. “He is a friend more than any­thing else and I would love to work with him if I get a cor­rect op­por­tu­nity with a great script.”

I don’t think Sonam is run­ning out of of­fers or scripts. By the look of it, she was run­ning out of time. With a cor­dial goodbye, Sonam flashed her smile and ran off on her toes, fash­ion­ably, of course.

I don’t have any ide­al­is­tic or po­lit­i­cal agenda for not go­ing to award func­tions.”

... a still from

Dolly Ki Doli

... a still from Dolly Ki Doli

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