Fortune hasn’t been consistently favourable to Soha Ali Khan. Almost inevitably, therefore, every hit of hers has been followed by a film that hasn’t worked, to put it kindly. But that seems not to perturb Soha. Indeed, though her now-up-now-down career graph almost exactly mirrors that of brother Saif Ali’s early career, Soha can justifiably say that she has had a better run. And the directors who she has worked with swear by her, which holds promise for the future.
For instance, as part of an industry where you are only as good as your last film, a serious flop like Dil Kabaddi ought to have brought Soha’s worth down a few pegs, but she will soon be seen in another comedy, Dhoondte Reh Jaoge, and insists she is confident — and happy — about the projects she is choosing. “I’m not the kind of actress who would say that despite a film not doing well I’m happy with my performance. I leave it to audiences to judge my performance,” she says.
Having said that, she holds every film of hers close to her heart, be it Khoya Khoya Chand or Rang De Basanti, Dil Kabaddi or Dhoondte Reh Jaoge. “Had I not liked the scripts and the roles, why would I have chosen them?” she asks.
Dhoondte…, says Soha, is the kind of film that makes people smile. “Dil Kabaddi failed because it released a week after the Mumbai terror attacks. But people are now coming to terms with the shock, which is why this film will work. It’s releasing at the right time,” she says.
There are other reasons why Dhoondte... is special to Soha. Going beyond the usual promotional spiel, she sounds upbeat at the opportunity to act in a comedy, though she has played a wide range of characters over the years. This time, she plays a struggling actress who dreams of making it big. “I play a small-town Bengali girl who comes to Mumbai. Kunal plays my boyfriend. They want to realise their dreams but circumstances lead them to a spate of hilarious events,” she says.
Given her half-Bengali descent, it should have been easy to play a Bengali. That fact that she has acted in two Bengali films, Iti Shrikanto and Antarmahal, ought to have helped, too. “I know the language quite well but this time I didn’t have to speak much,” she says.
What seems important to Soha is whether a film is “good” or “bad”. Much like her mother, she easily juggles mainstream and arthouse cinema. “I am greedy for variety. That’s why I do so few films,” she says. So the comedy will be followed by action thriller 99, once again co-starring Kunal Khemu. “I am also really hopeful about Sudhir Mishra’s Tera Kya Hoga Johnny,” she says.
And much like her mother she is constantly in touch with directors in Kolkata. Aparna Sen’s Goynar Baksho is on schedule, she says. “It’s very much on. We start shooting sometime next year. I am in talks with two other Bengali directors. If things work out, I will soon be shooting in Kolkata.”