‘We Are All Unique, So Let’s Celebrate It’
She is Pankaj Kapur and Supriya Pathak’s daughter.
She is Shahid Kapoor and Ruhaan Kapur’s sister.
She is Seema and Manoj Pahwa’s daughter-in-law and Mayank Pahwa’s doted upon biwi.
She is Ratna Pathak Shah and Naseeruddin Shah’s niece.
But most importantly, Sanah Kapur is her own person who knows who she is and what she wants, and does not try to fit into society’s ‘perfect’ boxes.
Even as an actor, Sanah does not fall into the bracket of a stereotypical heroine. From her first film, Shaandaar, she has been breaking conventions, touching on relevant issues, making a statement, all this without being preachy.
Despite coming from a family of phenomenal talents, she has managed to find her own space.
“I was a shy, mousey, little girl who lived on a shelf and yet wanted to be an actor. It was a struggle to know who I was and what I wanted to do, then break out of my shell.”
Your film, Saroj Ka Rishta, opens on September 16.
I didn’t visit a theatre during the pandemic and grew to enjoy the Web content available to us.
‘Some of us are overweight, some underweight, some too tall, some too short, some too fair, some too dark, but that’s no reason to get bogged down by society’s rules about what fits.’
But recently, when I went back, I was struck by the beauty and romance of the experience which we want to make more accessible to all.
The pandemic has been tough on all of us, it’s taken its toll mentally by making us face our mortality. Saroj Ka Rishta is the kind of feelgood film that could help dispel some of the darkness we have been through.
It made me smile during the narration, and I hope it will make others smile too when they watch it.
From Shaandaar to Saroj Ka Rishta, you have been raising issues that plague many young girls, from weight to finding the right life partner. What has been the response from your target audience?
Very positive, guessing from the way they come up to me at restaurants, so full of love and hope.
I was overwhelmed when a girl I had known as a kid but not met for years thereafter, confessed that my character Isha Arora in Shaandaar had given her the courage to give it back to girls who had been bullying her because she was overweight.
It was when she took them on that she learnt that one of the bullies was anorexic.
She helped her overcome the eating disorder and today, they are good friends.
Her story gives me a reason to do such films.
All of us have some issue that makes us anxious.
Some of us are overweight, some underweight, some too tall, some too short, some too fair, some too dark, but that’s no reason to get bogged down by society’s rules about what fits.
We are all unique in our own ways and I strongly advocate that we celebrate this uniqueness.
That’s a very mature perspective which must have come from having parents like Pankaj Kapur and Supriya Pathak. People have always spoken about their performances rather than their appearances and they themselves are more focused on what they can bring to the screen.
Yes, the person and the actor I am is because of their love and support.
I am not even point .00001 per cent close to them but I’m trying, and will try all my life, to reach a place where they can see me as a performer and be proud of the fact that I am their daughter.
Growing up, what became an issue for you?
I was a shy, mousey little girl who lived on a shelf and yet wanted to be an actor.
It was a struggle to know who I was and what I wanted to do, then break out of my shell.
As an actor, to go out there and say, ‘Hey I’m ready to explore the character to the fullest, keeping my principles and ethics in mind’ was a challenge.
In my very first film, Shaandaar, I had to take off my clothes at the end and talk about self-worth.
That was cathartic in a way.
That scene, which would be brave for any actor, was amazing for a young debutante. Tell us about it.
I was fortunate to be working with my family (father Pankaj Kapur and brother Shahid Kapoor) and a team which made me feel safe.
That was important in that kind of a scenario.
Eventually, it was a test for me to break out of my inhibitions in that moment while telling myself that this was what Isha would do and feel.
And in that moment, I ceased to be Sanah, and despite all the lights and camera, I became Isha.
Carrying the legacy of Pankaj Kapur and Supriya Pathak’s daughter on your young shoulders and working with brother Shahid Kapoor who was already an established star, how difficult was Shaandaar?
It was nerve-wrecking!
Dad and bhaiya didn’t intimidate me.
In fact, they were very supportive and brought a sense of security.
But I was still intimidated because they are such good performers.
I was excited to be facing the camera but also very nervous.
In comparison, Saroj Ka Rishta was a fun ride.
We were a bunch of young people coming together for a project we believed in. I cried on the last day because I didn’t want the shoot to end.
Shandaar helped a young girl deal with body shaming and find herself as a person. Do you think Saroj Ka Rishta can also teach a lesson or two?
I hope so, and not just about young girls.
I hope it will help everyone accept themselves for who they are, to find a person who will love them for who they are.
I hope that a couple of months down the line, another young girl will come to me with another heartwarming emotional story of how Saroj changed her life for the better.
If you can make a positive difference to even one person’s life or the way they think, it makes the profession worthwhile.
Have you ever been in a situation like Saroj where two grooms are competing for your attention?
(Laughs) I think in all our lives, there are times when more than one person is interested in you.
You don’t necessarily act on it, but you know and are confused, wondering who to choose.
What made you feel Mayank Pahwa was the suitable boy?
He’s one of my best friends, someone with whom I’m never bored, and that’s a big one for me.
We have known each other practically all our lives but did not start seeing each other till a few years before the pandemic. Finally, after a lot of break-ups and make-ups, we decided to tie the knot.
What do you remember of your wedding day?
That I never got my ‘wow’ moment because everyone was rushing me, ‘Chalo chalo time nikla jaa raha hai (Come on, come on, hurry up).’
It was a unique ceremony.
Yes, we took things from different ceremonies that we had seen and loved, that we felt was true to us -like exchanging vows and Mayank slipping the mangalsutra around my neck -- and put it all together.
We wanted to make promises not just to each other but also to our parents who had brought us into the world and made us who we are, and of course, to the Gods without whom no creation is possible.
The ceremony was a surprise for my parents and dad was super emotional, yet really stoic when walking me down the aisle.
I even asked him, ‘Dad, aren’t you going to cry a bit?
(Laughs) No, he didn’t. That underlined his greatness as an actor.
Once he decided he was not going to get emotional during the ceremony, he was able to pull it off.
I got to eat cotton candy after the ceremony.
(Laughs) Yes, I love buddhi ka baal and we had a stall at the venue.
It was a lot of fun.
What do you remember of Shahid and Mira’s wedding which was very different from yours?
It was the first wedding in the family and I learnt about what not to do.
For one, I had worn really uncomfortable shoes and they were killing my feet.
Finally, I threw them off in a corner and never found them again.
It was a beautiful ceremony, bhaiya and Mira looked like a prince and princess, and the feeling of peace stayed with me.