The beautiful fashionista of Bollywood and daughter of Mr India aka Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor plays Zoya, a girl from Benares in her new film Raanjhanaa. She talks about her film, why she thinks AR Rahman is God’s child, and working with her co-stars Dhanush, Abhay Deol and Swara Bhaskar. Excerpts
How were you cast for Raanjhanaa?
Well, the director gave me a narration, with the writer by his side, and it was just fantastic. I immediately took to the character and I simply loved the script, so I did not hesitate to say yes.
Tell us about your role as Zoya…
She’s an awesome girl from Benares. An only child, she is intelligent and gets into university. It’s a story of two people who’re very passionately in love. She’s headstrong and rebellious. And the two boys go completely go mad after her. It is the energy of the girl that is really attractive, I feel, and this is what gets her all this attention. It is about love and about the character of Kundan never giving up on his love.
Your working equation with Dhanush, who plays Kundan and is a huge star in the South… had you seen any of his previous work? Was language a barrier?
I saw Dhanush‘s National Award-winning film Aadukalam, and 3 as well. He’s a fantastic actor and so very talented. When you’re so great an actor, you don’t need language or a differentiation of where you’re from. It was simply a matter of him being so brilliant at his job. Language was not an issue at all and the expressions of love in our craft doesn’t need language, but diligence and creativity, which he has in abundance.
What was Tanu Weds Manu director Anand L Rai like to work with?
Fantastic, honestly, a really cool guy! He gave lots of love, respect and was very patient, with absolutely no negativity on set. He’s a super positive guy and is only 12-13 years older than me, so there’s not much of an age difference. He’s been like an older brother by being sweet and protective, but also gave a fatherly, firm vibe. His aim was to extract performances with love.
How were the vibes on set?
We were all very well taken care of on set. I would say it’s been one of my best experiences to date. It was also an absolutely wonderful team. We all became great friends. I would say that my co-stars have become my closest people in the industry as friends – we all got on so well. Especially Swara (Bhaskar) and I – we call each other behen, sister. She’s so talented and she’s also she’s inspired me to direct.
So you’re planning a career in direction so many years after your stint as an assistant to Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Black?
Yes, I do want to direct in the next eight to 10 years. I’m keen to explore another creative side to my work and it is something I would enjoy immensely.
Was there a lot of effort on your part to prepare for this role, which traverses a coming of age tale?
Yes, it’s about portraying a girl from her teens to her 20s and it took effort. Every film of mine has taken effort and I’ve worked really hard each time. And for this one in particular, I did a one month workshop in Delhi on street theatre, watched films like the ’70s Guddi and also worked on the dialect and body language required.
How was your chemistry with the critically acclaimed actor Abhay Deol?
We’ve worked together in Aisha, so we know each other really well and it shows on screen. Chemistry anyway is created by the vision of the director and their guidance through the nuances of the scene coming together. As always, it was lovely working with him.
You looked gorgeous and flawless in the Kathak dancing portion…
(Giggles) Thank you! I’ve actually trained in Kathak since I was five, so it was merely about reconnecting with the art. Benares is a city with a lot of culture and heritage, so most kids do learn the arts…it was an essential part of the role. This was actually easy for me.
You had AR Rahman’s stupendous music in Delhi-6 and now in Raanjhanaa…
Oh yes, I’ve been so excited about this and it is extremely amazing. He’s God’s child. I feel that God speaks through him and his music. I feel that it is everybody’s job to listen to his music. It is so inspirational and divine. Fortunately for me, I’ve had epic songs like Masakali, Rehna tu, Dil gira and now Tum tak – and all these songs are about me. I’m blessed in a way to have this music. I honestly feel that these are the best albums in the last five years. I’ve been extremely blessed! I mean I know they’re not for me, but for the character, but still, they are the characters are that I’m playing, which is a huge privilege. My favourites are Piya milenge and Tum tak.
How did you find the visuals of the songs?
I’ve seen the movie and the songs have visually met up to the standards of the music. Neeti Mohan who sings Nazar laaye with Rashid Ali from the UK, is someone to mention in particular, as she’s singing for me in the Yash Raj film also. I love Neeti’s voice; she is versatile and brilliant. I want her to sing more as my playback voice.
How do you feel about being dubbed for the Tamil version, Ambikapathy?
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to dub and memorise for this, so I have a wonderful dubbing artiste. Next time, hopefully, it will be my own voice for the Tamil version of a film I work on. It is going to be interesting to see this version on the silver screen.
You dazzled at Cannes Film Festival again this year and embody an iconic style…
I just enjoy being myself and that reflects in my appearance. The likes of Coco Chanel have always inspired me and my style. Yesteryear actors like Nutan, Waheeda Rehman and Meena Kumari inspire me also. And I love wearing sarees – they are the most beautiful Indian garment of all.
Any beauty secrets? What makes that gorgeous Sonam Kapoor body?
I’m a happy person and I use good products. Most are from L’Oréal. Even before I was an ambassador I used them and now I get them all free – I just got a shipment of shampoo and conditioner, as I’d run out (laughs). As for the body – it’s about eating right, exercising and keeping a healthy lifestyle.
You’re a regular on Twitter and Instagram…
Oh yes, I like to keep in touch with my fans. Technology is my friend and we have to go forward with time and embrace the tools available to us, I feel.
You recently celebrated your birthday in Europe…
Yes, I spent time with friends in the UK and then spent my birthday in Paris, where we hopped on the Eurostar train. It was great fun.
You have Bhaag Milkha Bhaag with Farhan Akhtar, and Nupur Asthana’s untitled film for Yash Raj with Ayushmann Khurrana coming up…
Yes, we’re nearly completed the shooting for the Yash Raj film, and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was amazing. I had a great time working with the very talented Farhan Akhtar. I can’t speak about them yet though. I feel that three films right now are enough for me (laughs)!
A fan message?
Go watch Raanjhanaa on June 21 and keep the love coming!