Bollywood star Anil Kapoor's daughter Sonam is making her Bollywood debut with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's much-awaited Saawariya, and the proud father can't stop raving about her.
"I was shocked when I saw her finesse on screen," said Kapoor, who feels Sonam is lucky to have Saawariya as her launch pad with a big banner and an acclaimed filmmaker backing her.
Excerpts from the interview:
How does it feel to share camera space with your daughter?
I'm shocked to see Sonam's finesse on screen. I'm just so anxious about Saawariya. I know she has done her best. And now we can only wait for reactions. You know, when I saw her in the rushes I wasn't just looking at her.
I was also looking at the entire film. There's a father and a film person looking proudly at Saawariya. As someone who understands cinema, I can recognize the excellence of Saawariya. Everything works in it. Sonam is in a win-win situation.
Unlike you when you started out.
That's right. I started with bit roles in Ek Baar Kaho and Hamare Tumhare, and then made my way up. Sonam has Sony Pictures and Sanjay Bhansali backing her ambitions. How much higher could she have gone? There's so much sincerity in the project. As a matter of fact, my responsibilities towards Sonam were taken over by Sanjay. I don't think I could've done a better job.
<b1>Were you tempted to launch her?
No way! I never knew Sonam wanted to be an actress. Her decision was a bolt from the blue. By the time I got to know her ambitions, Sanjay was already working with her.
Sanjay Bhansali compares Sonam to Waheeda Rehman and Rekha. What do you think?
I'm speechless when he says that. Sonam has a certain God-given presence. What can I say about her? To me she's my child. I just want her to work hard and look after herself. She must enjoy herself while acting. In Saawariya she has surprised me. But honestly she has a long way to go.
Were you pained when she had to push herself so hard for her debut film?
Look, I'm a very hard worker myself. I've pushed myself beyond my capacity all my life. I'd expect nothing less from Sonam. Nothing comes easy in life. Hard work is the only way to succeed. I don't believe in sitting back and letting destiny take over.
Not sleeping and working around-the-clock, these are the essentials of excellence. Recently I went to release the album of Ustad Bismillah Khan's pupil Shubha Ghosh. The famous classical dancer Sitara Devi was also there. I told her she was so lucky to have her guru's guidance.
You never had that kind of guidance?
I virtually crawled up to where I am. Also, there were no expectations riding on me whereas there's much expected from Sonam. More than being her father's daughter, the expectations come from being Sanjay Bhansali's heroine. I feel the
tradition has all but vanished.
With Sanjay-Sonam the
tradition is back. He has been as much a father to her as me. The way he has trained both Ranbir and Sonam is unbelievable. I wish I had a Sanjay Bhansali to launch me. The end product and the reaction to it are stupendous.
Why is your wife so aloof from it all?
She's just shy of the film industry. But she's completely involved with Sonam's career. Sunita is happy with her privacy. She has her own friends away from the industry. I believe that in every marriage the partners should do what makes them happy. She says I've spoilt her completely. I've never persuaded her to do anything.
And one filmy spouse is enough in a family.
Oh yes! I'm unabashedly filmy. I love cinema. That's my life. I've never been obsessed with money. I've done films for the love of cinema. In that sense, Shabana Azmi has always been a role model. She has made a big contribution to my life and career. I can never forget that.
Rishi Kapoor was your colleague. Now you and he share the same anxieties as expectant fathers?
Yes. We go back a long way. Not that we meet every day. But we've always been very close. My mom and Rishi's mom Krishnaji have been friends for over 50 years. Not a single day goes by without their interaction. The two families share a really deep bond.
Would Sonam's presence in the film industry make you self-conscious?
Me and self-consciousness don't go together. I'm in a totally different zone. I make people self-conscious. But yes, of course it makes a difference. Suddenly Sonam is there to remind the industry of my age. I'm exposed.