Millennium Post (Kolkata)

‘Every actor craves to be challenged’

Sonakshi Sinha plays Fareedan in the multi-starrer ‘Netflix’ drama ‘Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar’, which is set during India’s freedom struggle


Next time you visit Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s office, have tea, not coffee, said actor Sonakshi Sinha while narrating a fun anecdote behind her casting in the director’s upcoming streaming show ‘Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar’.

Bhansali produced Sonakshi Sinha’s 2012 film ‘Rowdy Rathore’ and they have been trying to collaborat­e for a long time, but nothing materialis­ed.

“He has been very encouragin­g. We tried to work together, but it didn’t work out and we were always in touch. Every time I went to his office, we would chat over coffee. I was like, ‘Sir, every time I come to your office, we have coffee and then I leave. I’m not having coffee with you. I will have tea’. We had tea, we had the same sort of conversati­on and I went home. And then I am in ‘Heeramandi’. So, tea is the answer guys, not coffee,” the actor said on day two of FICCI Frames 2024.

Sonakshi Sinha, who plays Fareedan in the multi-starrer ‘Netflix’ drama set during India’s freedom struggle when courtesans ruled the cultural landscape, said that she just loves the way Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who is known for films such as Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit-starrer ‘Devdas’, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone-starrer ‘Bajirao Mastani’ and Alia Bhatt-starrer ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, presents women on screen film after film.

“Sanjay sir and I have been trying to collaborat­e for many years and I’m glad it happened with ‘Heeramandi’. The way he portrays his women on the screen, nobody is able to do that. He has a very different vision for it, despite it being all magnum opuses. He takes good care of how his female characters are portrayed on screen and that’s something I appreciate about him,” she said.

The eight-part series, which was teased during Netflix’s mega ‘Next On event’ recently, also features actors Manisha Koirala, Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal and Sanjeeda Shaikh.

According to Sinha, the director has given equal importance to all the female characters in the series.

“In ‘Heeramandi’, we have six different women with six different stories to tell and each one has been important. So, to be part of something like this is tremendous. The fact that we are going global with ‘Netflix’ and being able to reach out to so many people, is something that everybody should be able to watch. I’m so glad to be a part of it,” she shared.

Having worked with the national award-winning director, Sinha said that she has blossomed into a ‘patient and stronger’ actor.

“I walked away as a more patient and resilient actor. That’s a good thing, as good things take time and greater things take more time. Being a part of something like this does require a lot of patience. I know I do my job well. Here, you have to mould yourself along with what has been created in front of you through the process of completely surrenderi­ng and if you are not able to do that, then you cannot be part of something like this. I think I walked away as a much stronger actor after ‘Heeramandi’,” said the ‘Double XL’ star.

At this stage of her career, the ‘Dahaad’ star said that she wants to be ‘challenged’ as an actor. She also expressed gratitude to Bhansali for having ‘confidence’ in her.

“Every actor craves to be challenged. I’ve grown and learnt through my experience­s. I’ve started from scratch. I had no experience being on a film set and I used to not visit my dad’s sets when I was a child. I had no training in acting or dancing and I was not groomed for it. I was thrown into the deep end of the pool and told, ‘Swim’. That’s how I learnt things. Every experience for me was something that I cherish because I learnt a lot from every person I worked with. It has got me to the point where Sanjay Leela Bhansali has confidence in me to offer me a role like Fareedan, who is very complex,” the actor said.

The actor, who has appeared in masala entertaine­rs like ‘Dabangg’, ‘Rowdy Rathore’ and ‘R… Rajkumar’, said that she had no qualms about doing commercial films at the onset of her career. She added that the experience of working on such movies gave her the ‘confidence’ to headline women-oriented films.

“I’ve been working for 14 years and I’ve done all sorts of roles. I started off with commercial masala films, which were always about the hero, which I’m not complainin­g about, as they gave me an audience and a wide reach. It gave me the confidence to shoulder films on my own,” added the actor.

Sinha further said, “That’s when I started playing strong female characters, which were different from the others, like ‘Akira’, ‘Noor’, ‘Khandani Shafakhana’ and ‘Dahaad’. I consciousl­y chose roles that I had not played before. That pushed and challenged me as an actor.”

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 ?? ?? The eight-part series was teased during Netflix’s mega ‘Next On event’
The eight-part series was teased during Netflix’s mega ‘Next On event’

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