Soha Ali Khan and mother Sharmila Tagore have come together for the first time in Sangeeta Datta’s Life Goes On. The English film will open in the US next month and in the UK in January. Since Soha has studied in London and has lots of friends there, she’s looking forward to a Leicester Square premiere.
It was her first international project and she’s amazed at how professional the set-up was. “They feed you before the shoot, then you eat only after five hours,” she laughs, adding that the first assistant director is the boss on the sets. Doing an English film was a breeze since with a Bengali mother and a Muslim father from the North, it was the medium of communication at home. The similarities don’t end there: “I too am the youngest of three siblings. And when ‘amma’ would go out of town, my father too panicked over curfew hour and eyebrow plucking. In the film, my dad has to cope with more serious issues like my mother’s death, a Partition hangover and an identity crisis.”She admits that Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi would have been happier had she continued with banking. "He doesn’t understand Hindi cinema but he’s accepted my career choice because it makes me happy," she says. Apparently, he’s also accepted boyfriend Kunal Khemu, though Soha says that they only talk history, money and travel and he leaves her mother to root out the personal details.
She admits working with her mother was “intimidating” but it helped that they were playing their natural reel-life roles and her mother believed that on the sets there could be just one director. “And though she hasn’t liked me in too many of my films, she liked this one. It has beautiful images of her too. She keeps threatening to retire but since Life Goes On, she’s done a Marathi, Bengali and Hindi film,” says Soha.
While her mother has balanced her personal and professional life, Soha considers marriage a bit of a trade-off that could change priorities. “I’m much too independent to put anyone else before me right now. Let me enjoy myself for some more time,” she laughs, but doesn’t deny her relationship with Khemu, admitting she watched Golmaal 3 for him even though she hadn’t seen Golmaal or Golmaal Returns earlier.
“When Kunal would rehearse his bizarre lines, I’d wonder what he was saying but in the film he was a riot,” she raves, kicked about doing a comedy with Shreyas Talpade soon: “My character is a cross between Dev Anand and Charlie Chaplin.” There’s also Accident, a horror film with Shiney Ahuja, Sound Track, a musical, with Rajeev Khandelwal and Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children. “I couldn’t not do Midnight’s Children. I’m a student of history and this is one of my favourite books,” she reasons, refusing to divulge details about her character but admitting it’s a role she always wanted to play.
When will she do a film with brother Saif Ali Khan? “I should send him an audition tape since he’s producing films,” she jokes. “These things can’t be forced, we need a good script about a brother and sister since I can’t play his heroine. And not many films like Hare Rama Hare Krishna are being made today. So for now, I’m looking forward to Saif’s Agent Vinod. I don’t know if he’s Bond or Bourne but Saif, who’s sophisticated, well-spoken and international, is the right choice for a spy thriller.”