Bollywood actress Sonakshi Sinha hits a career milestone this 2020 as she triumphantly clocks a decade in Hindi cinema.
Back in 2010, actor and politician Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter made her cinematic splash with ‘Dabangg’ opposite Salman Khan as the sprightly and feisty village belle Rajjo and she hasn’t looked back since.
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“I am very happy with how my career has turned out … I started my career with ‘Dabangg’ and ‘Dabangg 3’ was my 25th film in 10 years. I started when I was young and have never stopped working,” said Sinha in an exclusive interview over the phone in early June. The 33-year-old insider was filming an eight-episode series with director Reema Kagti for Amazon Prime Video when the lockdown due to the pandemic was declared in India.
“It’s going to be my career’s best role … Honestly, this is the first time I am actually getting a break like this and it’s been a re-set button of sorts in my life. I am only seeing the positive sides of life right now … This lockdown has given me a chance to spend a lot of time with myself,” said Sinha.
The interview over the phone took place before Sushant Singh Rajput’s unexpected death and the only thing that marred Bollywood was the sudden stoppage of shooting and filming to stem the COVID-19 outbreak.
“A lot of things have happened in our lifetime, but this is the first time in our lives that our entire film industry has come to a standstill … But as talents, it’s our job to act. We will act in any medium — be it theatre, films or digital platforms. Right now, we understand that theatres cannot open up as people are scared to accumulate like that because of the pandemic. But we will be fine. I am not too worried,” said Sinha, who claims she stumbled into acting.
Excerpts from our interview with the actress as we talk her career high, lows and everything in between …
Sonakshi Sinha on …
Finding happiness during Covid-19 lockdown in India:
“I am feeling good. We now have this chance to spend time with ourselves more than ever before because we were so busy with our life and work in general at other time. I cannot remember the last time I was just at home for such a long stretch by myself. I am not going out and I am not distracted by other things. So frankly, I liked getting in touch with myself. I have always wanted to meditate and align my thoughts with how I was feeling. But I was never able to do that because I could never get my mind to sit still. During this lockdown, being one with myself in quarantine is something that I have enjoyed.”
Her biggest takeaway from this stressful period:
“This lockdown has made me realise how much we need in life to be truly happy. We realised the importance of people in our life — be it family or friends. I have realised the value of people and found out the ones who are actually our friends and who are not. I have singled out the ones that work for and with us. I have realised the value of our health care workers because they are at the forefront right now. Although, I have not discovered anything new, I have been enjoying painting a lot more.”
Falling off track when it comes to eating right and working out at home:
“Honestly, for the first two months of the lockdown I completely fell off the wagon when it came to my diet and exercise. It is a point in life where you have to keep your mind positive, relaxed and calm. At no point, did I want to be like: ‘Oh my God, I have put on put on so much weight and I have to exercise and eat right.’ There was enough uncertainty in our lives and I didn’t want to add more pressure. It is a time in our lives when we are at home and we have no idea when we get to go back to work. I didn’t want to add to the uncertainty by curtailing my food. I enjoyed those months and ate to my heart’s content. I enjoyed that initial phase where I was enjoying my food and not working out like a maniac. Now I am slowly getting back onto the wagon trying to eat right and work out more.”
Importance of mental health:
“Even if you are not productive, it is honestly OK. You are stuck in your house and it’s not like you can get out of your house. It’s OK to have a few’ off days’. Everybody goes through a few off days. Obviously, I am really missing work, but I cultivating my overall perspective in a positive way where I tell myself that I would never gotten to spend so much time with my family if I had been working. I haven’t done it in the last ten years.”
Completing 10 years in the industry and how her film ‘Lootera’ remains under-appreciated:
“I think that movie was ahead its time. Honestly, like 10 years down the line whenever I meet someone new, the first movie they mention was ‘Lootera’. It stays with people and they loved my work in it. ‘Lootera’ was one of the most beautiful films that I have ever done. It was like poetry in motion. Probably, it released at the wrong time when the trend was all for masala potboilers. In the midst of all that came this beautiful tale, but this beautiful film somehow got lost in all that sound and fury. But the appreciation for that film has been tremendous. Even after so many movies, the first film that many talk to me about after all these years is ‘Lootera’ when it comes to my roles.”
Taking risks in your career like being a part of ‘Khandaani Shafakhana’ (2019) …
“Taking risks is what keeps me engaged in my work as well. I want to be that actor who wants to do everything. I do not want to do a particular thing or be considered into one particular kind of role. I want to be the kind of heroine where a producer or director says, ‘I am making this kind of a film and Sonakshi will fit in this film as well as in another film’. Perhaps, that’s why I am so instinctive about the kind of films that I do. I look at it as an audience and if I want to see it then I will do it. It is not about the genre, the scale and it’s not about who is cast opposite me. It is about me wanting to watch that film.”
Her thoughts on completing 10 years in Bollywood:
“I couldn’t be happier. First of all I never wanted to act. I was studying fashion designing and I did a three year course where I was excelling in that. So I never thought of acting back then and I didn’t think of acting while growing up either. I have not grown up watching movies. Now when people are entering the movies they are so well-groomed and well-trained. I had not attended a single workshop or acting class before my first film. I was thrown into the deep end of the pool and I was told to swim. Thankfully, I rose to the occasion and thank God for that. I enjoyed every bit of it. Whatever I have learnt so far, I have learnt on the job through experience and I love that kind of learning from practical experience. I am so thankful for everything that I have done … the good films and the bad films. All my movies taught me something and I wouldn’t change a single thing. So honestly, I have no regrets I would not change a single thing.”
On movies that didn’t do well in her career …
“I take full responsibility for it as I signed them in my complete consciousness and I have done it to the best of my ability. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not work. But I had a healthy working relationship with all my crew, At the end of the day, it is my film and I was a part of it. I will never disown a film. I am responsible like that.”
“Sonu Sood is making us proud. It is honestly so exciting to see what he is doing you know, he’s helping so many families. It is amazing as Sony Sood is doing what I think our government should be doing. As a fraternity, I think we are all super proud of him.”
What’s she watching now:
“I am watching 'Money Heist' … I re-watched many movies that I had completely forgotten about. I am trying to keep the mood light and happy, so I have been watching ‘Modern Family’ all through its 11 seasons. It’s such a funny show.’