Harper's Bazaar March 2016 - Page 242

SONAM KAPOOR BREAKS INTO A LITTLE JIG to the music playing at a Mumbai studio, paying less attention to her images than most people do to their selfies. She doesn’t look at the mirror during hair and makeup, instead focuses on her cellphone. And she’s happier with her pictures even before the photographer. In a matter of hours, one thing is clear: Vanity is not her virtue. “I’m the hardest on myself where my craft is concerned, but not when it comes to my looks. I have always been very comfortable with who I am,” she says, over a plate of seafood carpaccio and what is probably the world’s most healthful pizza. And she’d rather bite into a slice than let makeup artist Sonam does her best in a supportive Namrata Soni touch up her red lipstick. “She doesn’t even care about her looks. We have to, like, environment, says Madhvani, and over the force her to do stuff,” adds Soni. “I don’t take it too seriously; I have fun with it. That’s why I take so years that’s exactly what she has cultivated: A many chances with fashion,” says Sonam. close family bond, and a team that’s been with And it is also evident in her films. Which is why she can play a spoilt Delhi brat (Aisha), a Muslim her since Saawariya. But it is through her schoolgirl in Benaras (Raanjhanaa), a girl next door (Khoobsurat), a con woman (Dolly ki Doli), and characters that she finds consolation. “Every a princess in search of love (Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo). “You cannot define her. Yes she likes fashion, time I choose to do something, there’s yes she is an actor, yes she reads books, yes she is family-minded. Here is a woman who is doing all something in my life that I need the character this and doing it well,” says Ram Madhvani, who directed Neerja, the biopic that changed the very to kind of fix,” says Sonam. perception of Sonam. Because for the first time in her eight-year career, viewers and critics were Neerja reminded her to stand up for what unanimous in their verdict: Make no mistake, this fashion darling can act. she believed in and show grace under fire, “She was our first and only choice for Neerja,” says producer Atul Kasbekar. “The film required Ayaat from Mausam taught her to hold on to subtlety and she is an underplayed actor, which isn’t love and hope, and Khoobsurat’s Milli helped recognised in our country as being a great actor. People her through a vulnerable period in her life. “I “I’m the girliest girl but I’m was 26 or 27 and I felt all my friends were had reservations about her, but we just said they wouldn’t once the film released.” getting married and getting into long-term a complete feminist. It Ah, reservations. One word that neatly packages the relationships or moving on to some place or way Sonam has been consistently vilified for her work. the other. And I got into a relationship that doesn’t mean that I’m not For every critic who says she is the one to watch (Andy was painful because at that point I thought if wearing my dresses or my Webster in The New York Times for Bewakoofiyan) are I need to be in this I need to compromise and those who have called her performances loud, change in a certain way. Your parents tell you lipsticks, and I’m definitely exasperating, stiff, rehearsed, and out of sync. “On that you need to ‘adjust’, and then I realised social media, I’m constantly getting bajaaoed by haters. not burning my bra. I don’t you don’t have to do that. A lot of girls in India I understand that it comes from a place of judgment, feel they need to change to get their Prince need to prove a point.” but it still hurts even though I logically know it Charming, and here is Milli saying that I don’t shouldn’t,” says Sonam. So when she reads aloud a want to change for anyone,” she says. letter in Neerja that the character’s abusive husband This assurance, a cool confidence in who she wrote to her father, it was cathartic, because “in your is, radiates off screen, and she has no qualms admitting she’s on a diet. She eats her last meal heart and soul you still need validation from someone.” of the day at 6.00 p.m. and laughingly admonishes the chef at the restaurant for suggesting Madhvani’s take on direction included long takes with dessert. She’s riding high on the success of Neerja, but quick to note that the film isn’t about no cuts, which meant that even when Sonam was hit her. And when contemporaries like Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra are making on the lip with a gun or bruised in scenes with terrorists, waves internationally, she refuses to feel the pressure. Though she does point out her the camera kept rolling. At one point she’s actually crying. Hollywood connections from day one: Her debut, Saawariya, was the first Indian movie And while that may have been tough, the most difficult produced by a Hollywood studio, Sony Pictures Entertainment; she did Disney’s first film, moment in her career came at the end of 31 days of Khoobsurat; she has worked with Fox Star, and with Neerja, Fox Star International. “The filming. When Sonam took a flight out to Cannes that world is really small right now and you’re almost like global artists. I have worked so hard same night, layers of makeup covering the bruises on to come to a point where I’m not looked as just as a beautiful girl, and if I’m no Bv