‘I still do my own laundry’: Sobhita Dhulipala on life after Made in Heaven
The actor chats about wanting to be an economist, winning Miss India, and why her parents still haven’t watched her show.Updated: Mar 31, 2019 17:44 IST
How did a self-professed nerdy girl from Visakhapatnam, whose parents — a merchant navy officer and a school teacher — wouldn’t let her watch TV, become the glamorous face of what is arguably Amazon Prime’s glossiest and most-talked-about original web series in India?
Sobhita Dhulipala, 26, set out to be an economist, she says, laughing. Instead, at 20, she was declared Miss India, made her way to Mumbai and Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0, and now stars in Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s Made in Heaven.
Dhulipala chats about her craft, her next project and how college in Mumbai taught her to ‘comb her hair extra’.
How did you end up in the Miss India pageant?
When I moved to Mumbai for college, it was bit of a culture shock. People are much more liberal here — the way they dress, speak. I started combing my hair extra and all. I realised that attention felt good. Then, one of my classmates who was interning with the organisers of the pageant suggested I put my name in. I auditioned out of curiosity. It was the first time I was wearing lipstick, heels. I never thought I would win.
Was it disorienting, figuring out what to do after you won?
It was very exciting, but I did feel disconnected. I was very naïve and unaware about how things happen here. I often felt lost. So I decided to start with auditions for TV commercials — soaps, detergents, appliances, lightbulbs. But that felt like I was punching below my weight. I have more to say and more to offer, I felt.
Then I got a call for my first film audition. Halfway through it, I felt ‘this is it’. This is what I want to do. I didn’t know who was directing, who the actors were. As it turned out, it was Raman Raghav 2.0 with Anurag Kashyap. I was selected, and in two days, I was at my first shoot; in ten days the shoot was over; and within six months I was at Cannes!
You were 22, with no experience as an actor. How did you know what to do?
Reading helped me a lot… to be vulnerable and to keep the wonder of the child alive. Getting recognized for my skill is very important to me. Raman Raghav 2.0 gave me that. Working with Anurag Kashyap was a turning point in my life. To be around him and see that you can be absolutely honest as a human being and still do what you want to do, still be respected. It gave me so much courage.
And then a year later, you auditioned for Made in Heaven…
Yes, that was in 2017. I knew Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti were involved and they are wonderful storytellers, so I knew that whatever the medium, it was going to be good. When I read the script after being selected, it felt so relevant to the conflicts of our time and I knew I made the right decision.
How did you prepare to play this complex Delhiite, Tara Khanna?
I had worked on my Hindi six months before Raman Raghav 2.0 by watching news channels and translating newspaper articles in a notebook.
For Tara Khanna, I did my homework on my own. Characters are an extension of your imagination. For example, I played Tara Khanna as left-handed, which I’m not. But I wanted to make her distinct from me. I learnt how to write with my left hand and the body language of the left-handed. The directors probably didn’t notice. But this is my greatest joy while acting, building an entire character with small things.
Do you have any audition horror stories?
There have been times when I’ve been told, ‘You’re not fair enough’. I think the obsession with fair skin should end. And I do think that’s changing.
What’s next, career-wise?
I have just finished a Netflix show called Bard of Blood, to be released around August/September. I’ve done a film with Rishi Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi called The Body, directed by Jeethu Joseph. I also did a bilingual film called Moothon, directed by Geetu Mohandas that also stars Malayalam star Nivin Pauly.
How has life changed after Made in Heaven?
Life hasn’t changed! I still have to do my laundry. However, there has been a certain kind of recognition from people because of the show. This gives me a degree of security which being in a mainstream, successful film would not have. Here I’m being appreciated for my work, not because the project was a hit.
But my parents haven’t watched the show yet, saying things like ‘Wifi is down’! They are sitting in a farm in Visakhapatnam slicing mangoes and have no clue what I’m doing. (Laughs) So I’m going to visit them soon and sit them down and get them to watch the show.