Sonam Kapoor reveals why Neerja isn’t a Bollywood product

  • Prashant Singh, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 10, 2016 10:26 IST
Sonam Kapoor poses for a photograph for a promotional event for Filmfare Glamour and Style Awards in Mumbai. (AFP)

She entered Bollywood in 2007 with the film, Saawariya. And although she is Anil Kapoor’s daughter, Sonam Kapoor has made a mark in the industry on her own merit. In a candid conversation, the actor talks about her eight-year-old career in B-Town, her personal life, and more.

Recently, you said that you and the makers of Neerja aren’t selling the film.
We aren’t marketing the film in the traditional way. The effort is to make it clean and pure. When you are market a film like a product, it becomes a product. I honestly feel that this film is more than that. We want everyone to know who she (late Neerja Bhanot) was, so that people get inspired to become heroes. We wanted to celebrate who she was.

Watch: Sonam Kapoor in Neerja trailer

How do you look back at your journey in Bollywood?
I have just been myself. I feel you have to live your life with a lot of dignity. I have never compromised on what I believe in. I have never let my personal life get in the way of my professional sphere. My personal life has never defined my work. I am extremely happy with where I have reached in my eight years in the industry.

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What have been your biggest learnings?
I have grown as an artiste and as a human being with every film. I have made some amazing friends, and met some great directors. Also, my biggest learning has been understanding the space the audience likes me in. Be it Raanjhanaa (2013), Delhi-6 (2009), Khoobsurat (2014) or Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015), I have played very real characters in them. I have learnt that when I play real parts, instead of being a glam doll, my films do well. Maybe because my life is such a fairy tale, God wants me to be grounded when I play my characters (smiles).

Sonam Kapoor plays Neerja Bhanot, air hostess in her upcoming film. (Facebook/SonamKapoor)

Your father says that your time in Bollywood has started now…
When you want a stable footing, you have to build relationships and hone your craft. I am not in a hurry to reach anywhere, because this will be my job for the rest of my life. It is about taking it slow and understanding that you are here to stay. I never came into the industry saying I want to be a heroine; I wanted to be an actor.

Read: I don’t repeat myself because that’s boring, says Sonam Kapoor
Read: Sonam doesn’t want to work with me, says Anil Kapoor

Do you feel you are starting to move out of your father’s shadow?
Not too much grows under a banyan tree. Eventually, you need to shine so bright that your shadow grows too. Making your own identity is a slow process. You have to be very hard-working. You can’t be complacent.

Your personal life isn’t in the news at all...
It’s because I never talk about my personal life. And the media is fed up (laughs). They know that I won’t talk. No one even asks me about my personal life anymore. When I came into the industry, I decided that I will ensure that my dignity is intact. I am not interested in married men or men who are in a relationship, because I feel, at the end of the day, I can’t do that to any woman. Unfortunately, in the industry, where I spend all my time, most men are either in relationships or are married. You need to have a set of principles.

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Your father, Anil Kapoor, is a big name in the industry. Was it difficult to create a separate identity for yourself?
You have to take it as a challenge. Instead of getting bogged down, you should be like, “I will work harder so that I don’t let my family down.” That’s what Hrithik (Roshan) also did. He kept working hard and bettering himself. It’s the only way forward. That’s why I respect Hrithik so much; he gives his 500%. He is passionate about his work, and I respect it. Shahid (Kapoor) is also extremely hard-working, and one of the best people in the industry. He is eccentric and idealistic and very sincere.

Do you feel you have created a separate niche for yourself?
I hope so. I like my name being attached to my father. That’s why my name will always be Sonam Anil Kapoor or Sonam A Kapoor. I am proud of the fact that I am my father’s daughter not because of the kind of actor or star he is, but due to the kind of parent he has been to me.

Sonam and Anil Kapoor at their Juhu residence in Mumbai. (HT)

Your appearance in the Coldplay video has come under the scanner.
Kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna
(people will talk; it’s their job to talk). I did the video as a Coldplay fan. I was about 14-15 years old when they became famous. I used to listen to them non-stop when I was in high school. I am a crazy fan. When their reps called me, they said, “We know that you are a fan, and who you are.” So I was like, “Really? They know who I am? I will walk across the frame for Coldplay.”

Any particular roles or films that you get attracted to?
I like to work on films that challenge me. The role has to be different and more challenging than the ones I have done before. I have to work like that, or else I will stagnate as a person. This film was more personal because I met Neerja’s family, and got to know them. She was a real person, so that connection was different. Since Neerja was a real life person that responsibility and pressure was different.

Have you set a deadline to continue working in the industry?
I am going to be in the industry as an actor, director or writer till I don’t know. Come what may, I have to be in the industry, for sure. I love acting and film-making a bit too much (smiles). It’s the only thing I know.

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