It’s a relaxed evening. Although Sonam Kapoor has a new film releasing soon, she has no anxiety. She is stress-free. Talking about the criticism her appearance in Coldplay’s latest video has received, she says she “was taken aback by the reactions”. However, she continues to feel optimistic.
“When there is a dialogue about any piece of art, it’s a good thing. That’s the only way we can evolve as a community,” she says. In a candid chat at her Juhu residence, Sonam talks about being compared to her father (Anil Kapoor), how she has changed over the years that she has spent in B-Town, and more.
Ever since Raanjhanaa (2013), you seem to be on a rise…
I have had a steady growth. I am not winning any of those awards (laughs).
But do awards matter?
To an extent, some of them do. They show your position in the industry. You know where you stand [when you win an award]. Yes, I have been nominated but at the same time, I don’t think in the last couple of years, actors have received awards which they rightly deserved. There have been better performances. So a lot of performances were overseen.
Apparently, a few days back you said that ‘Kangana Ranaut deserved the awards and not Deepika Padukone’…
I said that three actors’ performances were the best of the year — Richa (Chadha), Deepika and Kangana. But mathematically, Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015) was a bigger hit. So, if one has to give a best actress (popular) award, it has to be given to Kangana. And as for critical awards, Deepika’s performance was flawless. Similarly, Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) was the best film — money wise as well as critically. Whether a person attends an awards function or not, it’s irrelevant. You have to give the award to the person who deserves that trophy.
But, aren’t these awards given to actors who attend these functions?
It’s their choice, and I understand and respect the kind of principles certain actors have. At the same time, I don’t know who is wrong and who is right.
Have you come to terms with the fact that you will always be compared to your father?
You have to keep working hard and put in your 100%, since there will always be comparisons. You can never let go, especially when you come from a film family. You have to take it as a challenge. Instead of letting it bog you down, you should be like, “No, I will work harder, so that I don’t let my family down.” Else, you won’t remain consistent. And that’s what, for instance, Hrithik (Roshan) has done. He has been working hard to better himself. Even Shahid (Kapoor) has done the same. Looking at them, I have learnt that you have to keep at it, regardless of the ups and downs.
You sound maturer now. For instance, you don’t voice your opinion about other people like how you did on Koffee With Karan in the past. What has changed?
Nothing. If you watch the episodes, I have actually not said anything. Also, now I feel that if I have an opinion about an issue that really matters and will impact society — culturally or politically — only then I give an opinion. Personal opinions are just gossip. So, I have decided that I won’t give a personal opinion about any person, because that will not matter in the larger scheme of things.
How do you manage to stay immune to the harshness of the industry?
Ever since I started off as an actor, I was clear that I won’t play dirty games. If someone is saying something or is putting out negative articles about me behind my back, I will openly say what I want to, instead of being shady about it. But later, I was like, it just makes me look bad and mean, which I am not. I know how people work behind the scenes. So, I decided I would rather not say anything at all, as eventually, it reflects on me.
So now, do you see the industry and its people differently?
I am not foolhardy about it anymore. So, I talk about acting and share my opinions on a film. But if someone hurts me, I won’t get into that space again (react to it). I’ve realised that I am not street-smart. When you aren’t street-smart, you need to learn how to be wise. I just don’t want to take part in those games.
So, will we never hear you comment on people from the industry?
I never talk about people. I make a lot of statements, but they have nothing to do with the film industry. We are just making films; we are not changing the country or world in any way. Also I am not a 21 or 22-year-old anymore.
Do you ever lose sleep when you see your contemporaries doing well or signing a big film?
The reason I function in a certain way is so that I don’t lose sleep at night (smiles). I don’t judge anyone; everyone has to find their own way. I need to live with myself eventually, and some people can live with themselves and with whatever they do. Everyone has their own belief of rights or wrongs. I am very comfortable in my own skin and the kind of person I am.
You now make statements on topics ranging from intolerance to Section 377…
Yes, everyone should be allowed to have an opinion — whether it’s good, bad or ugly, especially in a country like India. We are the world’s biggest democracy and a secular nation. People must be allowed to say what they want to; you can’t censor people. If you can’t complain about your own home, then what are you supposed to complain about? I make statements that might not go down well with people, but it is fine. You can’t bury a person for doing that. I find that unfair.
You feel very strongly about LGBT rights too…
Yes, if I am talking about Section 377, it’s only because I feel that everyone has the right to be who they are. We, as a nation, are known for our tolerance. We have never invaded any other nation. We have accepted every religion. Why can’t we accept someone’s sexuality? Everyone should be allowed to love who they want to.
But do you think such statements can go against you?
Two years back, when my upcoming film was offered to me, I had made a very strong political statement, and I was bombarded on social media. Then, this script came to me, and I thought, ‘This girl (Neerja Bhanot) died for what she believed in, so what am I complaining about?’ This is just people saying stuff on Twitter. So instead of going into the grey area, I said, ‘I have to remain the way I am.’ Even if three people out of 20 listen to what I say, I’ve made a slight difference.
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