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My name in the film is Ratan Bala : Sonia Jehan

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Courtesy: IndaiFM
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Sonia Jehan. Does that name strike a chord? The ethereal beauty from Pakistan made her debut in Hindi films with Akbar Khan's Taj Mahal . Post the release of the film, she married an Indian and settled in India. She is now playing an actress from the 1940s on the lines of Madhubala and Nutan in Sudhir Mishra's Khoya Khoya Chand.

This granddaughter of the legendary singer Noor Jehan speaks exclusively to us about life after Taj Mahal, life after marriage, Pakistani film industry, her stint with singing and a lot more.

Your debut film Taj Mahal didn't do well. Do you think it was a right debut for you?
I think the role that was offered to me was fabulous. I was playing the role of Mumtaz, it was a historical role and I love history. Unfortunately the marketing wasn't very good but its okay I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

What kind of response did you get after the release of Taj Mahal? Did you get more movie offers?
I got a lot of offers after the film was released. But I live in Delhi and for me to do another project; I wanted it to be a very interesting and different role. The roles that I was being offered were the ones were I was needed to play the European girl. I wanted to do something different.

Why did it take you so long to do your second film? Where have you been all this while?
I have been in Delhi, I am married. I got married while I was shooting for Taj Mahal to someone with whom I was dating. I have been married for three years. My husband is very encouraging and he actually thinks that I should do more films. But after Taj Mahal which took very long, I just wanted to wait and do something totally different. Taj Mahal was a big budget film, it was a historical film and for a debut it was very taxing in the sense there was a lot of hard work. We were shooting in Jodhpur so I was away for a very long time and I just wanted to comeback, settle properly and set my home and everything in order.

I was getting roles which were interesting but not something that would make me jump out of my seat. So when I got an offer from Sudhir Mishra, as it is I admire his work a lot, I was very keen on playing the role of Ratan Bala.

How did Khoya Khoya Chand happen?
I was approached by the casting director, Shanu. She told me about the script and was honest enough to tell me that it wasn't a lead role. But I don't have an issue with lead or supporting roles. For me it has to be something challenging, different from what I have done before, a new character altogether. I was interested so I went to Mumbai. This was the first time that I auditioned for a film after Taj Mahal . Sudhir thought that I was right for the role of Ratan Bala and we started shooting in October.

Ratan Bala is a unique name. Tell us more about her
My name in the film is Ratan Bala. She's a movie star of 1940s, an established actress who is very well known. She's a bit of a diva. And it's the struggle that she goes through to remain in the industry, because in those days after hitting mid 20s you were considered to be old and you would have to settle down, you couldn't be part of the industry. That's what the industry was all about.

It's about how she struggles to remain there, to be famous, to be loved and to be admired. It's quite an interesting and complex character, because you see her in the beginning as someone who's a diva who throws tantrums. Then you see a soft side of her of someone who wants to be loved and cared truly. It was quite interesting to play this role.

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