Making her mark
Since her debut in ‘Dabangg’, Sonakshi Sinha has had a terrific hit-streak. She tells rajiv vijayakar† how she attributes her success in the industry to her hard work and dedication.
Exceptions, they say, prove the rule, and therefore Sonakshi Sinha is the latest Queen Midas on the block. Having made her debut in the biggest blockbuster of 2010, the trend-setting Dabangg, she’s proving to be Lady Luck herself for her subsequent films and heroes — like Rowdy Rathore and Son of Sardaar, with Joker as the exception mentioned. Even her cameo in OMG - Oh My God! with the chartbuster song Go go go Govinda only added to her branding as the desi diva with dollops of star quotient and an unerring acumen for choosing mass-friendly films.
“Her focus is amazing,” raved her Son of Sardaar director Ashwni Dhir. “For someone her age, she is so calm and stable. She’s so dedicated she wanted to know when she could do more action after her motorbike sequence. And she’s so cultured and well-mannered. I would want to work with her again and again.”
Dhir’s assessment is on the spot. Sonakshi proves a chip off the Sinha block. Pretty, determined and professional, she is upfront about every topic including Joker, about which she says, “I did my share of promotion, right? So I was not unprofessional.”
To date, her films have always been with debutant (Abhinav Singh Kashyap in her debut film Dabangg, Arbaaz Khan in Dabangg 2) or relatively new (Prabhudeva, Shirish Kunder and Dhir) filmmakers with just two or three releases. But she would rather dwell on their talent than experience.
“Arbaaz Khan is so well-versed and so sure of himself that he should have turned director a long time back. I didn’t feel, even for a minute, that he was a first-timer. He is an all-rounder. In fact, he was present for my debut film’s narration when my parents were also sitting with me,” says Sonakshi. “And Ashwni comes from a television background, so he was always well-prepared, and fast. His familiarity with Punjabi culture was huge, as he is a Punjabi, and he had written some fantastic dialogues.”
About the crazy stunt Ashwni mentioned, Sonakshi laughs, “I was lucky. Ajay (Devgn) trained me in it and on that particular day, mom (Punam Sinha) was luckily not around, and I just kind of confessed to her later about it. But the action in the film came easy to me, perhaps because I played a Sardarni.”
She obviously has high expectations from Dabangg 2. “We all have a lot of hopes from this film, especially after the great response to the songs and the promos,” she says. “I get nervous before every release, and keep my fingers crossed. I hope that it does better than Dabangg.”
About the bonding with desi roles that continues through six films, including her cameo, she has no complaints. “People have liked me in them,” she points out. “Besides, it’s not as if I choose my films on the basis of what I am supposed to be wearing in the film. If the role and character I accept demands ethnic wear, I have to don it. I am playing a Bengali in Lootera and I am wearing ethnic apparel again. In Dabangg 2, the storyline continues from the first part, so I cannot wear something different for the same character.”
Ask what she thinks of her terrific hit-streak and she instantly counters, “I don’t. Otherwise, with the way I expect Dabangg 2 to go at the box-office, by the end of the year, mera sar phat jaayega (my head will burst) with my ego.” A dazzling smile accompanies the answer. “I try to remain on terra firma.”
The fact that her first five films have been with the three biggest mass-friendly stars — Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn — is ascribed by the lady to “beginner’s luck”. She says simply, “I am lucky because I get to learn from the amazing grasp each of them have on every aspect of cinema. My working with all of them in just the two years that I have spent in the industry is really great luck.”
She has a different equation with the three young stars she is working with: Ranveer Singh in Lootera, Imran Khan in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai 2 and Shahid Kapoor in Prabhudeva’s next film. Ask her to compare the different generations and she replies candidly, “With the heroes who are more my age, it’s a friendly and equal relationship.
With Imran, I established a rapport from the very first scene. Ranveer is a method actor to the core and so our schools of acting are completely contrasting.† I have yet to start shooting with Shahid. With the seniors, there is always respect, though they are all so much fun.
Salman is so chilled-out — he never takes his superstardom seriously. Besides, he was a family friend for years. Akshay is serious, punctual, but also jokes a lot. Ajay is also like Akshay.”
About Sanjay Dutt, who played her uncle in Son of Sardaar, she raves, “Oh,
he is such an emotional man. On the first day of our shoot together, he made me call dad up to tell him how nostalgic and sentimental he felt about working with me — he had worked with my dad in two films, and of course, his father and dad had been great friends and frequent co-stars. He also got emotional the day dad visited the sets.”
Sonakshi does consult her illustrious father Shatrughan Sinha and her mother while considering offers. “My decision is based on our combined views on a project. With all their rich experience, it makes sense to ask for their opinion, right?” she asks.
And which are her own favourites from her dad’s films? “Oh, there are so many I cannot remember, and I have not even watched all his films. But yes, I really loved him in Khudgarz.”
And how does she assess her competition with Asin, Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma, apart from seniors like Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Katrina Kaif? The charming smile is back as she says, “I don’t try to. I am focussed on my own work and on minding my own business.”
Spoken like a true-blue Sinha.