Tutored by her parents and mentored by Salman Khan, no less, Sonakshi Sinha finds herself to be already adept in the ways of cinebiz. With her debut ‘Dabangg’ whipping up high frenzy, the daughter of Shatrughan Sinha and Poonam is sanguine of a warm welcome into Hindi moviedom
Stardom is her genetic gift. Newfind Sonakshi Sinha holds the distinction of being the daughter of Shatrughan and Poonam Sinha, a fact that has stood her in good stead when she decided to opt for a career in the business of histrionics. Furthermore, she’s managed to bag Salman Khan as mentor! No mean feat considering that Khan’s turned unofficial personal trainer and painting guide too, to hone Sonakshi’s skills as an artist.
The professionally trained fashion designer, who also boasts of a stint in modelling, has already drummed up substantial interest with the catchy promos of ‘Dabangg’ unveiled. Arbaaz Khan’s premier production will showcase Sonakshi in a rustic portrayal and the actress is supremely optimistic about the flick’s outcome, slated for an Eid 2010 release. Kool and confident, this is one newbie who certainly remains unflustered in the face of a fusillade of queries.
Excerpts from a chat?
How would you describe your character Lajjo in ‘Dabangg’?
My character is about a strong and silent girl. Even Lajjo is ‘dabangg’ like the name of the movie suggests and all the characters in the movie are also ‘dabangg’. When Lajjo comes into Chulbul Pandey’s life, she gets positivity along with her. Chulbul Pandey is a weird man and she gets him to the right track.
How do you look back at the filming experience?
I had a very nice experience. There couldn’t be a better start than this for me. I have a certain comfort level with Salman.
Were you nervous initially?
Frankly speaking, I wasn’t nervous, because my three teachers Arbaaz (Khan), Abhinav (Kashyap) and Salman took me through the film very nicely so it became very easy for me. They made sure that I was very comfortable while shooting.
Did your mentor Salman pamper you a lot on the sets?
Actually Salman was my co star, all the pampering is usually done by the producer. So I would only say that Arbaaz did not leave any chance to pamper me. I was very much pampered on the sets.
What was your first shot for ‘Dabangg’?
The first shot was very easy. As Abhinav knew I wasn’t trained in acting, he made sure all the easy scenes were done first and then the difficult ones. So the first scene was a walking shot were I had to go to the hospital and Salman was in the frame.
It’s being said that you were instrumental in Salman keeping a moustache in the film?
No, I did not tell him to keep a moustache just because my father had one! In fact, that did not even cross my mind. But once he wore a moustache I found the similarity. But in U.P and Bihar it is a tradition for a man to keep a moustache, till his father is alive. Also, Abhinav wanted authenticity for the ‘look’ of the film and its characters. So that is the reason he asked Salman to keep a moustache and it looked good on him. Vinod Khanna uncle and I were there at that time and we both liked it.
Did you ever have to face the famous Salman Khan temper?
Most of the time, Salman is in a good mood. But even if he sneezes, the media makes a big issue of it as if he sneezed and blew the whole building! Everybody is moody.
Most people are confused as to the meaning of the title?
‘Dabangg’ means fearless, one who cannot be suppressed by anyone.
Would you say that you’re fearless?
Yes, to some extent I am ‘dabangg’ too.
Salman helped you a lot in your weight loss training?
Yes, he did. In fact, I started losing weight because he told me to. He keeps giving tips and we used to work out together in Panchgani.
What’s the kind of ‘look’ that you sport in the movie?
As I said before Abhinav wanted authenticity for the films look, most of the time I am in ‘lehenga choli’ and saris. I think the ‘look’ has worked out really well for me. I am really happy with it.
Did you plan to take up modelling full time as a career?
I did not want to start a career on the ramp, but I started modelling because I wanted to become a fashion designer. The transition was very quick so I did not get time to think about it but now that I am acting I am really loving it. I have chosen this as my career path.
You’re also a professionally trained designer?
I have done a three year course in Fashion Designing. When I lost weight and Salman and Arbaaz saw me at party in a complete Indian outfit, they thought I could play Lajjo’s role. That is when Arbaaz came to my house along with Abhinav to tell me about the script. My parents were there at that time and as soon as they heard the script they loved it. Even I liked it so I couldn’t say no.
Any strict restrictions as regards your acting career?
They have not banned anything, but my upbringing and considering my father’s political background, I wouldn’t do something that would embarrass them.
Did you train in acting, as well?
As I was into fashion designing, I did not get time to do an acting course. But two months before the film could start Abhinav and a voice trainer, Mrs Rama Vaidyanathan, used to come to my house and we used to do script readings. So I was prepared on what and how, I had to say my lines.
What’s the kind of response you’ve received as yet?
Many people tell that I have an old world charm. I like it when they say this because very few people can carry off the old world charm as well as the modern ‘look’. So I feel blessed that I can fit into both the categories. I am getting a lot of appreciation from the industry insiders but I am trying not get flattered by it. I’m just waiting for the film to be released.
Was it difficult for you to get into the rustic role?
It was not very difficult for me to get into the rustic role because personally I like wearing saris. Alvira and Ashley Rebello had given me nice clothes to wear so it was easy for me.
Which is your favourite song number in ‘Dabangg’?
My personal favorite track is ‘tere mast mast do nain.’
What’s the kind of equation that you share with your father?
My father is an institution in himself. Every conversation with him is like a lesson I learn. I got to learn many things from him. But he has always told me one thing which has worked for him a lot. That if you can’t prove to be the best at least prove yourself to be different than everybody else. And I think my father has followed that throughout his career. He has given me the same advice.
Have you ever faced problems from the police?
I have never come across a police inspector. I have been a good girl.
Would you say that you’ve progressed on the acting front during the filming of ‘Dabangg’?
I think throughout the film I was learning things. Abhinav is a very good director; he has a clear cut vision. At the beginning I used to find crying scenes difficult but as we progressed I learnt. Things got easier.
Salman’s performance too seems to be quite spot on?
I think every role Salman does, he gets a different kind of spark to it. For e.g. if u watch this film you will not see Salman Khan in it you will find Chulbul Pandey. He totally gets into the character and he’s turned it around completely.
Your mentor Salman has also got you to turn artist?
I always liked sketching because it is the background for fashion designing. But I could never graduate towards painting. But on the sets, out of boredom, Salman has taught me how to paint.
What’s your strategy for the future?
There is no strategy for work as such. I like to take things as they come. Choose good work, do the kind of work that suits me, my personality and my sensibilities.
Who’s Bollywood’s biggest ‘dabangg’ per as your rating?
Bollywood’s ‘dabangg’ will always remain Mr. Shatrughan Sinha.
Which are your future projects in the pipeline?
It’s too early to talk about it right now. When the time comes, I myself will announce to the world.
List your favourite actresses, please?
I have many favorite actresses. I love Kareena Kapoor, Vidya Balan and Rani Mukerji. I have recently come into the industry and I had no intention to get into acting, I have not thought about who my competition is. For now, I would like to compete only with myself. I would just like to get better and better.
Your dialogue in the promos with Salman Khan is already a big hit?
Yeah, I know. ‘Thapad se darr nahi lagta hai sahib, pyaar se lagta hai’ has become quite popular.