My slip is showing… You cow… lose some weight… I hate that outfit…,” I seemed to have strayed into production of the American series Gossip Girl. Nay, just another day in the life of Sonam Kapoor.The cacophony is amped up with the addition of Rhea Kapoor, sister and producer, who also moonlights as Sonam’s stylist. Rhea’s sharp take on clothes and number crunching is earning her a sprightly reputation. Junior stylists, make-up girls, it’s an all girl crew with an apologetic man Friday hovering in the fringes.I’m witness to a full blast of topics ranging from PMS to iPhones, from lip-liners to the latest in fashion. In short, paisa vasool entertainment. In between raucous shouting, slanging matches, there is a genuine sense of estrogen bonding. A far cry from the all male testosterone crews of stars, who would sullenly stare at you while you tried to make polite conversation with the star.Sonam Kapoor is a huge movie star now. With Raanjhanaa and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag kissing the 100 crore mark, she’s drawing all the stares. There were several false starts after Saawariya.
While she doesn’t admit it, she had indeed become the whipping girl for her movie turns. Her image as a fashionista loomed larger than her image as an actor. Plus her loose cannon statements in the press about Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and loads of stars got her into the line of fire. All that’s changing slowly. While she’s still politically incorrect, you can sense a self-editing when you throw queries at her. Raanjhanaa and Milkha have made that turnaround so important for any actor.
To employ a cliche, I’ve seen Sonam grow from a fledgling to a swan. From Saawariya to Raanjhanaa has been a journey of spit, polish and determination. And she’s still so drop dead beautiful. An absolute charmer in front of the still camera, she’s the quintessential head turner. Life as Sonam knows it is coming up daffodils. Therefore the right time to chat her up. Excerpts from a mad zany conversation…
After being dubbed as a non-actor, has the superhit Raanjhanaa changed perceptions about you?
I was always taken seriously as an actor. After Delhi 6 and Saawariya, people viewed me much like Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi who were considered serious actors with a girl-next-door image. They didn’t view me as someone who could be both – glamorous and rustic at the same time. The stylish Aisha became a cult film. Every girl wanted to be like her. I Hate Luv Storys pushed me further in the glamorous bracket. My image changed because of the back-to-back success of these two films. People forgot that I am an actor. But actually they have been kind to me. Go through every review of Raanjhanaa and you will know.So did your fashionista image somewhere sideline your acting talent?
That image was in the mind of the public. But I swear by God that the only reason I am still here is because of the film fraternity. I got good reviews for even a film like Players. For Mausam I received spectacular reviews. The only film I did not great reviews was Thank You. Generally, what happens is that if a film is not successful, people don’t remember it. Now that Raanjhanaa has hit the 100 crore mark, people have become aware that I can act. They don’t understand that if I can do a Zoya in Raanjhanaa, I can do an Aisha in Aisha also. I can also play a typical Yash Raj or Dharma Productions’ heroine. I believe I have the potential to do different things. I am not saying that I am the best actress in the country. But it’s my ambition to be that.
Not being on a particular director’s wish-list – does that pinch you?
Just because I don’t talk about them, it doesn’t mean I don’t get film offers. I don’t disrespect my directors by talking about other films. I know actresses who keep saying, ‘I have got this film offer and that film offer’. I never do that. I am on the wish-list of one director who has worked with me and wants to work with me again and again.
What irks you about your rivals?
When they spread false stories by saying, ‘Oh my God! This film was first offered to me!’ I know it’s a complete lie. I know it was offered to me first. But if you still want to lie about it then it is okay. It’s cheap and I’d never do that. There are many films that were offered to me butI never let it out. Like some people call up my team and say, ‘I want you to do my make-up and styling.’ If you look down on me saying that fashion is all I do, then why the f**k are you calling up my people. It is not that I don’t know about it. It’s ‘uncool’ to do that.A section of the audience believed that Raanjhanaa was anti-women…
The dialogue in the film where he (Dhanush) says, ‘Naam toh batao’ and she says, ‘Thapad khaaoge kya?’ is like a game between the girl and boy. It is wrong if people believe the film is anti-women. It means they haven’t seen the film properly. Zoya is a strong character. She drives the story forward. I like the fact that she’s grey. It is real.
Now, your brother Harshvardhan Kapoor is debuting in films. It must be crazy at home with so many actors?
I’m very happy that my brother is doing Rakeysh Mehra’s film Mirza Sahiba. Rakeysh and I share a certain relationship. He gave me so much love and nurturing that I have become this confident monster. (Laughs) But honestly, he made me believe in myself. If in your first film, you have a director who respects you for your talent, it is great. I’m glad for my brother. As for my brother, he’s a monster because he knows his sisters love him to death. So he bullies us. He’s quite a chick magnet already.
What is this love-hate relationship that you share with Deepika Padukone?
I know her socially, that’s it.
Who are the actresses you are fond of?
Bebo (Kareena Kapoor). I love her. I like Alia Bhatt and Vidya Balan too. Jacqueline Fernandez is a friend. I love them all. Specially, Alia and Bebo. If I become a director, Alia is the only one I’d love to direct. She inspires me to direct. There’s something cinematic about her face. Hopefully, with Imtiaz’s film, she will come into her own.
Something about your Cannes experience…
I love the Cannes Festival. There is no tension or stress there because I am not going for any movie screening or something related. I love dressing up and appearing glamorous.Did you watch any films there?
No. There’s no time. I had to be ready at 8 am and work till 9 pm. During photo-shoots you meet people. It’s then you realise that Bollywood is such a small industry. You are living in a fish bowl and don’t see beyond it. International celebrities are the coolest people. They are like normal people. They don’t project themselves as stars. Over here it is very different.
Tell me about your newfound friendship with Dhanush.
It’s a friendship but there is nothing new about it. We are different kind of actors. He prepares a lot. I am spontaneous. I love his family, I love his wife Aishwarya. Recently, when she was to attend the Filmfare Awards South, I told her what to wear. I suggested she wear Anamika Khanna’s creation. Aishwarya is down to earth and so is Dhanush. He treats me with a lot of respect. He always maintains a respectful line between us. The rest of my co-stars, who are my buddies, are always pulling my leg.
Do you see yourself working with the younger lot?
Ya obviously, I’d love to work with them. I’m working with Ayushmann Khurrana. But my philosophy is not about working with a hero, it’s to pick up the right film and the right role. It has never been that Sonam wants to work with only this or that actor. That’s not how it works for me. It doesn’t matter who my hero is.
Why haven’t you worked with Ranbir Kapoor after Saawariya?
I don’t know. He’s doing his own thing. I haven’t been offered any film with him. Honestly, there has not been even one actor I have not shared onscreen chemistry with. People appreciated my chemistry with Abhishek Bachchan, Dhanush and Farhan Akhtar too. Ranbir and I are in touch on and off on BB.
Would you audition for a role?
I wouldn’t mind if a director asks me to audition for a role. But I will never go to a director and say, ‘please take me, I’d like to audition’. I’d never send across hampers or bouquets to a director for a role. If a director thinks that you are good enough for the role, he will cast you. Recently, I had been to Yash Raj to audition for a role. I mean, Hugh Jackman, still auditions for roles. There’s so much to learn from that.Suppose you don’t get the role you have auditioned for…
Whoever gets upset, takes himself/herself too seriously!
Is there any game plan for your career?
Whether my movies are successful or not, I learn something from them. I’ll be acting till the day I die. I want to be a better actor with every film.
Acting coach or workshops – what’s your choice?
My dad (Anil Kapoor) till date sits with a coach before every scene. I do the same. I went to Anupam uncle’s (Kher) acting school for Raanjhanaa. I also went to Delhi for three months to work on my role. I am going to attend workshops for Khoobsurat as well. In fact, internationally all actors do it. If you have to a better actor you have to train yourself, just like you need to do riyaaz to be a good singer. Acting is an art after all.
Acting today is more about 100 crore clubs. Agree?
There is different cinema being attempted too… movies like Lunchbox, Bombay Velvet and also the Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh film Lootera. Such cinema gives a great platform to unique directors like Anurag Kashyap and others. Also, it’s heartening that commercial stars are doing somewhat offbeat films like Lootera and Bombay Velvet. It’s an exciting time for cinema.What kind of movies would you like to do?
I want to do characters with conflicts and shades. The character needs to traverse a journey from A to Z. She can’t be just two dimensional; she has to be three dimensional. It can’t be a flat character. I don’t just want to be either the party girl or the loud Punjabi girl. I played the society girl in Aisha, a student in Raanjhanaa, a hyper Delhi girl in Delhi 6. My success lies in the variety of roles I’ve played without being typecast.
No married men, no affairs, no scandals, nothing…
I am mild inside. I won’t pick the married men or those in a relationship because I have been cheated upon in the past. That was the worst experience ever. Even though it’s not your mistake, you begin believing that something’s wrong with you even though it’s with the guy. I don’t want any girl to go through that. It’s tacky. I am judgmental. I am idealistic. I live my life on my own terms