Sonu Walia, 45: Considered the Parveen Babi of late 80s, sexy Sonu Walia is all set to don a producer's hat. "I never gave a comeback a thought. After starting a family in '95, I devoted myself to raising my daughter. But now I'm back and all set to fund a small-budget film directed by my husband [Pratap Singh]," she says and adds, "The film I'll make soon will be an original story."
In the online world, everyone is talking about why Sonu Walia is missing. Where are you?
Sonu: I am very much in Mumbai. I have my own production house and I have been busy with that. I would rather come out when my film releases and even then I would prefer that the actors talk. I don’t need the spotlight.
Why did you quit Bollywood?
Sonu: Everywhere I go, especially at the airports, people ask me why I quit so suddenly. Well, I fell in love and got married (to hotelier Surya Prakash who passed away four years ago). Actually, the three Khans (Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir) put me out of business. When I meet them, I tell them that (laughs). Tall actresses weren’t accepted then. Sushmita Sen worked with Salman Khan and changed that.
How different is the film industry now as compared to the 90s?
Sonu: In our time, story and script was not there and people took it easy. Girls were mere showpieces and heroes ruled the industry. It is far more professional today and I think Aamir (Khan) gets the credit for that. Though, when I look back, I had a wonderful time, people were great and I was fortunate to work with them.
How did you get your first film?
Sonu: I just got lucky because I had a title (Miss India). Gudduji (Rakesh Roshan, who directed Khoon Bhari Maang), does not take newcomers. He had seen my film Aakarshan and that’s how he gave me KBM. Apart from Ameesha Patel and Hrithik Roshan, I think I am the only newcomer he has launched.
What was the highest point of your career?
Sonu: At the time of shooting for Dil Aashna Hai in Panvel, Hema Malini ji (who was directing the film) and Dharamji came over to where I was staying and asked if I was comfortable. I had grown up watching them and it was quite a moment.
Do you have close friends in the industry?
Sonu: I am in touch with some people but you can’t have close friends in this industry. Your close friends are always from school and college.
Does this industry forget its stars too soon?
Sonu: Hasn’t that always been the case? It has been proved time and again that we only salute the rising sun.
Mahesh Bhatt, filmmaker
Haq (produced by Bhatt), in which Sonu was featured, was directed by my protege (Harish Bhosle). There is no denying that she (Sonu) is a bright, charming lady. She was effective in Khoon Bhari Maang.
Chunky Panday, Actor
I did two films with Sonu — Jeevan Daata and Rupaye Dus Karod. While shooting a scene for Rupaye... she had to slap me and I thought she’s an award winning actor, she’ll slap me really hard. I stepped back and she hit my nose.