Beauty is her legacy. And talent her heirloom. Daughter of the suave Saif Ali Khan and the savvy Amrita Singh, Sara Ali Khan has followed her parents’ footprints into showbiz. Young Sara, who insists she has her father’s mind, is a law and political science graduate from the Columbia University in New York. Yet, it was the camera, which resonated her deepest desire. Sara’s confidence and talent swept audiences and critics in her debut film, Kedarnath, the tale of love amidst devastation. Close on the heels, Rohit Shetty’s blockbuster Simmba has positioned her as the pick of masala movies as well. Over to the prodigious find… who has both the sense of an actor and the sensibilities of a star…
What’s the finest thing told to you?
The nicest thing people said was that Kedarnath doesn’t seem like my first film. This is a huge compliment. Ours was a hectic shoot with difficult schedules. I’m grateful that at the end of the day, it all came together and my work was appreciated.
Looking back, what was the moment when you realised you wanted to become an actress?
I was around four when I came across the song Kaanta laga. I couldn’t pronounce the word ‘bungle’ in the song. I’d say ‘Bunge ke peechhe’. At that point of time, I realised this was what I wanted to do. Of course, my interest evolved. At the age of four-five, you’re glamour-struck. Then you realise and internalise what it takes to be here. Now, having shot two films, I want to do this more than ever.
The best thing you’ve inherited from your mother, Amrita Singh and your father, Saif Ali Khan.
(Smiles) My father’s mind and my mom’s heart.
What are the dos and don’ts set by your parents?
My parents insist that whether it’s being a good actor or a level-headed person, you need to make your own mistakes. So, short of preventing me from jumping off a building, my parents are okay with me taking my own call and making my own decisions. The only dos and don’ts are things like don’t lie, don’t be dishonest. Dishonesty shows in your eyes and no make-up artist or DOP (director of photography) will be able to hide that. So, just be real.
What do you find fascinating about your grandmother Sharmila Tagore?
She’s the epitome of grace and elegance. That’s something I admire. She’s my grandmother so there’s a lot of respect for her. I strike a balance between respect and closeness. I can talk to her about almost anything. But then again, our conversations are little more skewed towards world affairs and political science than towards hair and make-up.
You’re beautiful and talented. What’s your plan to stay ahead in the game?
I’m not good with strategy or thought. I’m good with heart, with conviction and honesty. I’m going to keep myself real and grounded. I’m going to pray to God that people like my work. I’d love to collaborate with people, who’ll give me the opportunity to do so. From here there’s only going further and working harder.
You must be conversant with the ringside of Bollywood…
I live with mom, who stopped playing the main lead before I was born. I don’t know the know-hows of this industry. So, it’s all a learning process for me.
The insecurities and uncertainties… Are you prepared to deal with them?
Want to know the truth? I’m not prepared. I don’t believe you can ever be ready. And yet you don’t have a choice but to be ready. I won’t ever wake up thinking, ‘Any role that comes my way, any insecurity… C’mon bring it on.’ Because that’s not what this job is about. This job is about taking each day as it comes, living the moment in the best way you can and realising that everything is a team effort. Making a film, setting a look, walking out of your house, or be it anything else… you’re not doing anything single-handedly. You should never believe you’re ready. That’s not fun.
Taimur Ali Khan is the biggest star in your family. Do you agree?
(Laughs) Yes, hands down. He walks out of the house and it makes news. While we have to work hard for it.
Fellow-debutante Janhvi Kapoor finds you stunning… How do you find her?
She’s stunning as well. This whole thing (rivalry) about Janhvi and me is so funny. We’re both extremely comfortable and confident in our skin. The first five times people made collages of us on Instagram asking ‘who’s better?’ we sent it to each other.
Now we don’t because it happens every week. But seriously, the industry is huge and has place for everyone. You’ve got to be comfortable in your skin and respect the other’s job as well. I respect hers, she respects mine and at the risk of speaking for her, we respect even those people who make those collages. Their money also depends on it. Do it, we don’t mind. Some days she’ll look better, some days I’ll look better. It’s all good.