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18 January 2017 | Last updated 12:27 AM
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2015 ended on a high note for Sonam Kapoor. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo became one of the highest grossers of the year. Now, the actress will be seen in a power-packed performance in Ram Madhvani’s Neerja. The biopic is based on Neerja Bhanot, the flight attendant who lost her life while fighting terrorists and saving passengers aboard hijacked Pan Am Flight 73. The film releasing on February 19, also stars Shabana Azmi, Shekhar Ravjiani, among others. As part of the film’s promotions, Sonam visited Sakal Times office on Thursday.
After reliving Neerja Bhanot on screen, how has she influenced you as a person?
Had you asked me two-and-a-half or three years ago who my heroes are I would have said Jhansi Ki Rani, Sarojini Naidu, Lata Mangeshkar, Meryl Streep... Now, I would say Neerja Bhanot. Every ordinary person has a hero within and it’s up to him/ her to nurture that hero. Neerja, an ordinary 22-year-old girl, showed her heroic skills and did something extraordinary.
Have you changed as a person after playing the character?
We humans evolve with each experience, be it good, bad or ugly. Since Neerja has been a great experience, an immense satisfaction as an artist, I have evolved, hope in a good way.
Will you call Neerja, the most challenging and demanding character of your career so far?
With every film, including Neerja, there are new challenges. That is the reason I do just a few films with diverse roles so that I can challenge myself as an actor. With every film it should get tougher and more challenging, otherwise you will stagnate as an artist.
So far you have played lovable, bubbly characters. Do you feel after this film the industry will take you seriously as an actor?
I don’t know if that holds true because after every film, I have been asked this question. I think the industry took me seriously as an actor long back. I have been nominated for the awards for the last three years. That’s the reason I got to do this biopic and the makers decided to invest in me.
Moving away from Neerja, Bollywood actresses like Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra are making their presence felt in Hollywood. Your father too has worked there. Will we see you anytime soon in Hollywood?
As long as I get to play a character which has depth, I would say, ‘Yes’ because I do not want to be an exotic Indian girl in a film. I have tried very hard to stay away from that image in India and that’s why I have been part of films like Neerja, Khoobsurat, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. The language doesn’t matter. It could be Hindi, English, Tamil or Marathi. The character should be compelling. I think the world is becoming small right now and there is nothing like a crossover. Films like Lunchbox were well appreciated and now Neerja is releasing worldwide. We are making films for the world and not for a specific region.
Neerja has been banned in Pakistan. Do you feel disappointed?
It has not been banned. We, as in the distributors, are still in conversation with the authorities. I don’t know where the news is emerging from.
What do you look for in a script?
I look at the story and my character. Besides, I should also feel happy working with the people on the sets and they should respect me for my talent and intelligence.
I don’t sign films which will only make money at the box office. I should feel satisfied with my craft.
Do you feel that you have been able to move away from your father’s shadow creating a niche for yourself?
I hope, I never move away from being Anil Kapoor’s daughter. I am proud that he is my father. When someone asks me this question, honestly, I feel bad for my dad because it’s like someone asking, ‘Do you not want to be your father’s daughter?’ It’s kind of disrespectful to him. I am ‘OK’ being my father’s daughter. He is a great man and an amazing father.
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