'I look like my mother but I smile like my father', says Sonam Kapoor when asked about her father, Anil Kapoor post where he had shared a throwback picture of him and Sunita Kapoor from a magazine. Frank, honest and well-opinionated, the actress doesn't hide behind words and is one of the few ones who is quite vocal about various issues.
In an interview with Filmibeat, the actress gets chatty about playing Zoya, the debacle of 'Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga', the competition in Bollywood, body positivity and missing out on being a part of films like 'Baahubali' and 'Tanu Weds Manu'.
'I Can't Be Constantly Doing Films Like 'Neerja' & 'Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga' '
Q. Your dad, Anil Kapoor recently said that your selection of scripts is amazing and you leave him spellbound every time. What do you have to say about his thoughts?
A. I want to be engaged when I read a script. I don't think about the film's fate whether it will work at the box office or not. For me, choosing to do 'The Zoya Factor' wasn't a difficult decision to make because it's a easy, breezy film. I liked the character and thought it was fun. So, I decided to do the film.
Q. The quirkiness of Zoya reminds one of Mili from Khoobsurat. Do that connect with you as well?
A. Yes. I can't be constantly doing a films like 'Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga' or 'Neerja'. I have to once in a while break it with some easy films which are palatable to everybody. 'The Zoya Factor' isn't a big-budget film at all. I want people to just enjoy themselves. It's an easy fun and I had fun while doing it. It's not derogatory to men or women in anyway. But at the same time, it's a positive commercial film.
'I Used To Be A Mess'
Q. There was a time when people thought breezy films are those where you don't need to put in your brains. But now, the definition has changed and they are looked upon as something pleasing but also meaningful. Do you think cinema has evolved over the years?
A. Cinema has obviously evolved. For the kind of films that I have been a part of, did well in the last couple of months, especially the small films. They are palatable and just easy-breezy. I haven't seen 'Chhichhore' or 'Dream Girl' yet but, I hear that they are fun films where you take something back home. I won't mind going with my girlfriends to watch a film like 'The Zoya Factor'. It's not brainless but at the same time, it's a sweet romantic comedy. I feel girls don't have these kind of films anymore. I hope I make some of these films.
I think there's an audience for such films and we disregard them. There is an audience for a Salman Khan or Akshay Kumar or Shahrukh Khan film. At the same time, there's an audience for a romantic comedy where girls can take their boyfriends and be like, 'This is my kind of film and I want to watch it'.
Q. How much do you relate to Zoya?
A. I relate to her a lot. She is a mess and I used to be like that. I think I still am. (laughs) Zoya's professional life doesn't go as her expectations. She has a non-existence love life and boys are constantly dumping her. Her hair is never the way she wants it to be. Her father and brother are obsessed with cricket and constantly talk about it. She doesn't have anybody to talk to about girl stuff. So, her life is a mess.
'I Don't Want To Be A Decoration In A Film'
Q. 'The Zoya Factor' is based on Anuja Chauhan's novel. Did you read her book before signing the film?
A. I am a big fan of Anuja Chauhan. She writes modern-day books for young girls and I read the book in 2009-2010. I loved it a lot, but the book rights were already acquired. So, I bought the rights of 'Battle Of Bittora' which is equally amazing. I didn't expect 'The Zoya Factor' to come to me, but it did. I am so happy that I bagged this role. It's like playing a modern-day Elizabeth Bennet.
Q. Today, we have many strong female-characters being written and many actresses make sure that their roles are strong irrespective of the length. How do you pick up films?
A. My role needs to be impactful irrespective of the length of the role. The character should be able to take the story forward in some way. I don't just want to be a decoration in a film.
'You Don't Want To See Salman Khan Kiss On Screen'
Q. Your last film, 'Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga' won rave reviews and failed to translate into box office numbers. How does that affect you as an artiste and a producer?
A. It's one of my best-reviewed films. But I think the audience found it difficult to understand it. I was surprised to see the film doing well on OTT platform. The only thing that I can say is that people were afraid to go and watch the film especially with their families. I am yet to understand why that happened.
Usually when a film gets good reviews and has actors whom people love to watch, it does well. However, the kind of respect I have got for 'Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga' is insane. A lot of people connected with me after watching the film and shared that they have come out to their friends and family. For me, that was more important.
In India, you can't see a straight man and a straight girl kiss each other. Like, you don't want to see Salman Khan kiss on-screen. Now imagine, if it's about two girls or two boys kissing each other each other. It makes people squeamish.
We wanted to normalize it without making people uncomfortable while watching it. The only criticism that came for the film was for not showing the physical intimacy. But, my director never wanted to explore that because then, the film would become about that. It was a well-intentioned film. We didn't want people to come to the theatres for the wrong reasons. We wanted people to understand that acceptance from yourself and your family is important. Love is love; whether it's between a boy and a girl, a girl and a girl or a boy or a boy.
Q. You are also one of the few leading ladies who busted the myth of 'celebrity flawlessness' which many youngsters aspire to you. You also wrote a piece titled "I Didn't Wake Up Like This", where you spoke about how, 'It takes an army, a lot of money, and an incredible amount of time to make a female celebrity look the way she does when you see her. It isn't realistic, and it isn't anything to aspire to.'...
A. When I was younger, I used to look at pictures of these actresses and actors and I was like, 'I will never be like that.' I was overweight. Today because social media, there's a lot of pressure on girls and boys to look a certain look, take a certain holiday or put certain pictures up. It's completely unrealistic and people go into depression or end up with body-image and mental issues. They get a lot of validation from what's online and that's very scary.
Sometimes, you are like listen, 'This is how I am.' If you think you want to be like me, you need to understand that's not really me. What you see in media or Instagram or Facebook is not always real. That's why I always insist on tagging people who work on my looks. A lot of actresses just don't tag people in their posts.
I was like, 'No, I have to make sure that everybody who has worked on me, has to be given the credit'. Without any of these, I am just like any ordinary Indian girl. It's really important to show and tell people that it takes an army to make me look like this.
It doesn't come easy. I have chosen this job and that's why I want to or have to look like this. If I didn't, I didn't have to. I don't want young girls to look at an actress and be like, 'Oh, I can never be like that' and then have self-image issues. I don't want boys to be like, 'Oh, I want this heroine' and then, not end up meeting the love of their lives.
It's responsible to show the real, authentic self and always tell the truth about who you are.
'I Have Never Rubbed Anyone In The Wrong Way'
Q. How secure do you feel as an actress and do you get affected by what your contemporaries are taking up in terms of their work?
A. If I did that then I won't be able to make the choices which I did. I feel everybody has their own journey. I am not running any race; I am there for the long run. I want to keep working till the end of my life. If I constantly keep a tab on who is doing what then I will burn myself out. The more you compete with other people, the more unhappy you get.
Q. The young lot of actors do seem to gel well with each other...
A. Whenever I ask any of my colleagues to do any videos for my films, they always end up doing it. I think it's about relationships and I have never rubbed anyone in the wrong way. I have always been supportive and they have always been supportive of me. I don't think I am in competition with anybody so there's no negativity from other person either. I think that's the general way how young people are right now.
'Young People Shouldn't Have Any Regrets'
Q. You said that you are quite content with your choice of work. But is there any particular film which you regretted missing out on?
A. I wished I had done 'Baahubali'. But I was doing 'Neerja' at that time. I had to make a very harsh choice. Even 'Tanu Weds Manu'. I had said 'yes' to that film. I eventually ended up with 'Raanjhanaa'. Sometimes, it's all about destiny. (laughs)
Q. How critical are you of our own work? Do you revisit your films and try to introspect about what worked for you and what didn't?
A. I don't regret anything. Like for example, let's talk about 'Tanu Weds Manu'. I never spoke about being offered that film. It was Aanand L. Rai who revealed it. Thank God! I wasn't the one who said it (laughs).
I feel at that point in my career, I was very open and honest with him and he liked the way I behaved with him. He told me that he liked the way I am and promised me to offer me his next film. That's what he did. I feel everything happens for a reason. 'Raanjhanaa' changed my career in a way and I feel, I wouldn't have it in other way. 'Baahubali' was an amazing film and I wished I was a part of it. But at same time, I was happy doing 'Neerja'.
For me, everything is a learning. I suggest young people shouldn't have any regrets in their lives because everything could be a lesson with which you could better yourself.