Learning is key

Sonakshi Sinha

Sonakshi Sinha is always in a happy space and has just released her maiden comedy, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi. She admits that the entire unit had a ball, as everyone — Jassie Gill, Jimmy Sheirgill, Ali Fazal, Diana Penty, Piyush Mishra and director Mudassar Aziz — had a terrific sense of humour.

 The daughter of Shatrughan Sinha and Poonam also looks fit and gorgeous in a casual t-shirt and jeans. She attributes this to discipline and consistency in workouts and diet. “When I find myself looking better and feeling fitter, the motivation increases,” she says. 

Sonakshi will be seen twice in two weeks — in the title role of Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi and as a guest artiste in Yamla Pagla Deewana 3, releasing on August 31.

Exploring comedy

“I loved Happy Bhag Jayegi and that is why I am doing this one,” she trills happily. “The entire team is pretty much the same, and all the characters that were loved in the first part were brought back. A light-hearted, fun romance that had worked already was so alluring and when Mudassar came and narrated the film, I knew that I had to be a part of it.”

Sonakshi is very comfortable in comedies. “Even in real life, I am the kind of person who sees humour in everything. I love to laugh and make people laugh, too. I am always cracking jokes and I never take life too seriously,” she explains. Her recent films, Noor as well as the last one, Welcome To New York, were also light stories.

But is it a conscious decision that her last few films like Noor and Akira were heroine-centric and she had a sizable presence even in Ittefaq? “I go by instinct, and I have to react even when I am being narrated the script,” says Sonakshi. “I do want my roles to be good now.”

Sonakshi’s definition of a challenging role, however, is also individualistic. “People think that my roles in Lootera or Noor were challenging, but I think that it is more challenging, for example, to play a village belle, who is so different from me, unlike those characters. Also, I prefer to understand from my director’s perspective as to how he wants me to play a character. He may want me to play it differently from the way I have perceived, and that can be a challenge.”

What about her reel image being too Indian? She laughs and protests, saying, “But that is something I am even in real life — an Indian girl at heart with Indian values. I am hardworking, have definite goals, and my heart is in the right place. In fact, after doing Akira, Noor, Ittefaq and Force 2, none of which had songs and dances, I was itching to do a proper Hindi film that had songs and dance. I wanted to be back in that colourful setting of fun and celebration, and, luckily, the first thing I shot for, Happy…, was a song, and I was like ‘Wow! I am back where I belong.’”

The actor also says that she is a “full Punjabi at heart.” With a Bihari father and a Sindhi mother, how did that happen, we question. She guffaws and replies, “People say that I look like a Punjabi, I talk like a Punjabi and dance like one, and my body language is Punjabi too! I listen constantly to a lot of Punjabi music too. I do everything dil khol ke and in a larger-than-life way like they do.”

And, is that why the heroes of her last film Welcome To New York (Diljit Dosanjh) and this film (Jassie Gill) are both Punjabi stars? She laughs, “Yes! It is an interesting coincidence.”

Sonakshi is thrilled when we point out that her entire clan is having a ‘Sinha fortnight’ on the marquee. Her father is also doing a cameo in Yamla…, while brother Luv Sinha stars in Paltan on September 7. “It’s absolutely unplanned,” she exclaims.

And though we know that her father was to do a cameo as her parent in Akira, we will now see them for the first time on screen together in the Dharmendra home production. “Honestly, it happened on the spur of the moment. To be even thought of for a song by Dharam-ji was such an honour that I cancelled everything I had planned to accommodate his shoot. I was just told by Salman Khan, ‘Let’s do a song for Dharam-ji.’ Even the costumes were decided just a day earlier. And Salman said, ‘What’s your dad doing? Call him also, na!’ and he utters his famous word Khamosh in the song.’”

“There was such a beautiful atmosphere on the set,” she goes on. “Dharam-ji and dad have been such good friends for decades, and our families have been so close, plus there was Rekha-ji too. Sharing screen space with her felt like I was in heaven.”

What does Shatrughan think of his daughter today? “Oh, he is very, very proud,” she says with a broad smile. “He travels a lot, and he just loves it when air hostesses or other people tell him, ‘Oh, you are Sonakshi’s father.’” She adds that he is always there when she needs help or is thinking too much about anything. “I always turn to him for his suggestions,” she grins. “But he thinks that whatever I do is the best because I am the youngest and the apple of his eye.” However, her ‘go-to’ person for whetting her scripts, if at all needed, is her mother. “I really value her opinion as it is an outside view. My father is always too busy, and at the most, I can give him just a gist of the story.”

Lessons in losing

Sonakshi makes it clear that her earlier flop films have never been a cause for regret. “For me, what is important is learning from experience,” she stresses. “I never intended to be a film star. I never went for acting or dance classes or workshops. I was told that I was doing Dabangg and that’s when my life started. Whatever I have learnt, I have learnt on the job, so whether I have chosen a good film or bad film, I do not regret it. Everybody has these experiences and it’s important to have them.”

She points out while her many hits gave her a broad reach, others like Noor and Akira made her realise that shouldering a film was not all that easy. “Plus, the roles were very powerful. Yes, there were some films about which I now think, ‘What was I doing there?’ But then, if my character was not needed, it would not have been written at all, right?” she wants to know.

Sonakshi is doing Dabangg 3, again as Salman Khan’s wife Rajjo. She is also doing Kalank, the ensemble cast drama. “I think I have proved by now that I can be put in any character in any kind of film,” she says. “And about Kalank, it is absolutely great to have such co-stars as Madhuri Dixit and Alia Bhatt, and feeding off the energies of such actors only improves your performance.”

 

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