It goes without saying that the last couple of years have seen Sonam Kapoor’s career shift into top gear, with the success of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015) and last year’s breakthrough film, Neerja. Ask Sonam if the past two years have been special for her, and she says, smiling, “I don’t know. I would like to believe that something special happened to me every year.”
On the fence
Sonam feels that Neerja and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (PRDP) taught her a lot of things, gave her clarity about certain choices in life, and resulted in changes to her lifestyle and value system. “For instance, earlier, there were certain things that I would always be on the fence about, thinking, ‘should I do it or not, or should I be like this or that’. But at some point, life gets to you, and then, you don’t know what is right and wrong,” she says.
The actor readily admits that one can lose their sense of self-preservation. “Sometimes, you lose that with age, and with the way the industry and the world functions generally. So, the reason I took up Neerja was because she had so much courage and lacked [any sense of] self-preservation. At one point, I remember I used to be like, ‘I need to become more diplomatic and play the game (of the industry)’,” she says.
But Anil Kapoor’s daughter credits PRDP and Neerja for changing things in a big way. “After these two films, I was like, ‘no, I need to go back to being the kind of person I was, and stand up for what I believed in, no matter the consequences’. So, that reaffirming of belief was a reward in itself. I am satisfied being myself. And still, if awards come my way, that’s great. Who doesn’t like getting an award (laughs)?” she says. The actor adds that the two films have given her a lot materially in terms of fame, success and appreciation. “But what it has done for me as a human being is more rewarding than any award that I could ever get.”
The Raanjhanaa (2013) actor says that doing films such as Neerja made her realise that there are “certain rights and wrongs”, and there are certain things that she would like to be. “For instance, although I was predominantly vegetarian for the past 10 to 15 years, I was always on the fence about whether I should be a vegetarian or not. But when I saw the food on the PRDP set was vegetarian, it became a natural progression,” she says.
Sonam says she also imbibed ‘thehrav’ (calmness) and learnt to have focus (in life) while working on Neerja. “Calmness comes when you have strength in your beliefs, and the same goes for Maithili’s character (from PRDP). Neerja had a certain value system and a certain moral fibre. She stood up for what she believed in, and she did it with a lot of compassion and gentleness. She wasn’t Jhansi ki Rani, but her courage was exemplary,” she says.
Taking a call
Towards the end of last year, Sonam said in an interview that in Bollywood, actors often decide whether an actress should work in a film with him or not. “Since I believe that I am a feminist, I believe in working with people who want to work with me,” she says.
The actor adds that she also sometimes takes a call on “whether an actor should be in a film or not”. “But eventually, it’s the director and the producer. Sometimes, when I am a producer on a film set, I take a call on whoever is the best for the job. Also, sometimes, I decide whether I want to work with a person or not. If I don’t want to, then I leave the project with humility. So, I guess it depends on the position that you are in,” she says.
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