You’ve just started shooting for your debut film, Dabangg. How does it feel?
Surreal! I have no idea what’s in store. So, I’m going ahead with no expectations.
Ever been to a film set before?
Oh several times, as a child, to dad’s (Shatrughan Sinha) sets. (Laughs) Even when I was nodding off, I’d insist on driving down with him, fall asleep in the car and be sent back home. It was such a different world out there, hay stalks, horses and palatial houses. I remember going to the shoot of a Pahlaj Nihalani film. Even though dad wasn’t a part of the film, the beautiful white house where they were shooting, drew me. It was filled with lohbaan and white smoke. I imagined myself as a fairy in heaven.
So, modelling and fashion designing were merely a cover up for your real passion, acting. How did your parents react to your decision to enter showbiz?
Actually, they were the ones who convinced me to do Arbaaz’s (Khan) film that is being directed by Anurag Kashyap’s brother, Abhinav. It was the right script, co-star and director, the perfect package! There had been several offers before but Salman bhai and Arbaaz bhai are like family. And we all liked the story the first time we heard it.
Doesn’t the age difference between a 40-plus Salman and a 20-something Sonakshi bother you?
The story justifies it. Besides all the superstars today, be it Salman, Shah Rukh (Khan), Aamir (Khan) or Akshay (Kumar), are past 40 and have been around for 20 years now. And most of the new girls are as old as me. As long as you play the role right, age doesn’t matter. We’ve known Salman bhai for the longest time. He has great respect for my parents and is very protective about me. I was a kid when Maine Pyar Kiya released. (Smiles) I would sing ‘Kabutar ja ja ja…’ over and over again. Who would have imagined that one day I would be in a movie with Salman bhai?
Will Shatrughan Sinha be supervising the romantic scenes?
(Laughs) I hope not, romancing Salman will be unnerving enough. But if I have to, I’ll do it, that’s what acting is about. I just hope it’s not too intimate a moment.
Your dad gives you any tips?
He’s always told me to put my best foot forward. And take mom (Punam Sinha) with me everywhere I go. My brothers give me a lot of advice too. Luv’s film, Sadiyaan, is ready for release and he’s clueing me on set terminology like ‘Camera right’ and light angles. Kush has also become an expert having worked with Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Saawariya. He is looking to pursue acting as a means to learn direction.
What about mum?
She’s always around, making sure I have my head on my shoulders. Mum is a queen. I haven’t seen any of her earlier films except Sabak that she did with dad, and Jodha Akbar. She was so regal. Jodha is one role I’d love to do some day. (Smiles) If mum is a queen, then I’m her little princess.
If you could take your pick, which of your dad’s films would you want remade with you in it?
I loved him in Kalicharan and Vishwanath. Also, Khudgarz in which he was both funny and serious. I liked the accent. But my choice would be Kala Pathar. I’d love to say, “Teesra badshah kaun hai?” in dad’s distinct style. Only, I’m a girl!
An actress you’d like to emulate?
Dad taught me to be myself. It’s better to be different. I admire Konkona Sen Sharma for the way she has struck the perfect balance between art and commercial cinema, Omkara and Wake Up Sid! Also, Kareena Kapoor.
You used to be a chubby little girl once. Couldn’t have been easy shedding all that puppy fat?
It took two years and two trips to the gym everyday to cut down from 90 kgs to 60 kgs. No cakes, chocolates or pizzas. Now, that there’s not much weight left to lose, I can indulge myself once in a while. I don’t have to visit the gym more than once a day.
Were you a difficult child?
No, I was a nice, obedient child despite the occasional pranks that I can’t even remember today. My brothers were even better. That was painful at times because they always set such paragons. But honestly, I’ve not done anything really naughty!
Once upon a time, you were quite serious about designing…
I was, when I was studying at SNDT. For three years I had no time for anything else.
You plan to launch your own designer line some day?
Why not? Once I’m done with acting.
When would that be… five years, 10 years, 20 years from now?
Twenty years? That’s a long time! Let’s see how long I enjoy this profession. As a model I was never taken seriously. I was a regular on the ramp as a showstopper but that was because I was Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter. Being daddy’s girl was a hindrance in that world, hopefully, it won’t matter in the movies.
What happens if acting as a career doesn’t work out?
Cool! There are so many other options like designing, art or photography.