Their own persons

Actors Sonakshi Sinha and Aditya Roy Kapur tell Saimi Sattar that the canvas painted by the director was a compelling reason for them to sign on Kalank

They might not share the same level of camaraderie as Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt or even a history like Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt — the other actors in the new film Kalank, which releases this week — but Aditya and Sonakshi share a deep-rooted respect for each other’s craft and the people that they are. They agree on a lot of things, whether it is to do with the film industry, their previous outing together or their larger world view. Where they differ, is the manner in which they approach acting. Talking about the film and its tagline, which says, Eternal Love, one wonders whether the description still holds in the days of Tinder and speed dating. But both the young actors are in sync with the emotion. Aditya insists, “Love, in essence, is still felt the same way that it was a 100 years ago and what it does to you. One can’t control it as it controls you. When you are in love, reason goes out of the window. The norms and practices as well as the way we express love might have changed over the years.” Sonakshi points out that if a person has experienced love at any point of time, it does not die. “It might change even when you say that you don’t love a person and become indifference, hate or fondness. It could be any emotion but it never goes away,” she says. While Sonakshi has previously acted in Lootera, a period film, it is the first time around for Aditya, which attracted him to this project which is set in the 1940s. “The character excited me and at some level, scared me as it was a new territory. I’ve acted in films which were set in contemporary times. Fear can be a great motivator, especially for an actor and can set the engine going. I felt that I was reaching for something that didn’t lie in my comfort zone,” he says. This ensured that he did his homework. “One has to be well-versed in the politics of the time. So I read quite a few books to understand the narrative completely. It is set in the 40s, which is a very well-documented period in our history. I saw some films as the pace of speaking and the intonation is different as compared to our times and attended diction classes. I had to do a lot of work to be confident enough,” he says. It was the script which blew him away and compelled him to make the effort. “As an actor, it isn’t very often that you get a script which is shooting ready. You could see that the director had worked on it for a very long time. He was very clear about how he would make the film and the way he looked at each character. This made me very confident. It was evident that he would do justice to it,” he says. Sonakshi too had similar reasons for signing it. “When Abhishek narrated it to me, I was in awe of the world that he had created. With every line and paragraph, you could imagine what he wanted. When I saw the trailer, the world that was shown to us, matched with every letter in the script. I also loved the fact that each and every character has a very important role in taking the narrative forward which happens rarely in a multi-starer,” says Sonakshi dressed in a pale yellow salwar kameez. However, unlike Aditya, her method of approaching a role is more impulsive. “I often get embarrassed as I don’t have a process. I would approach a Lootera or a Satya or an Akira the same way, though the last one did need a lot of physical preparation. I process the information that I get from my director and how he wants me to portray the character. I try to grasp that and then add my two bit to it. When I get to the sets and the camera starts rolling, that is when the process begins. The character comes alive when I am in costume, wearing my sari and sindoor. My walk changes. Since the character is from the 40s, I tried to process all the information that I had read and what I had heard about the period from my family,” she says. This is the second time that the two actors have come together in a film. But when you mention Welcome to New York, they erupt into peals of laughter. “He was there for one scene and not much thought went into that,” says Sonakshi and Aditya quips, “Not much thought went into the entire film,” and both burst out laughing once again. She explains the reason why she isn’t seen as often as she was earlier, “I was burning out. I like this style of working. I was overdoing it. I was doing so many films that they were practically overlapping. I never had time for myself or to take care of myself. So, from Akira onwards, when I decided to slow down, my life became a lot more wholesome,” she says. To which Aditya adds, “I am going through that phase which you must have gone through. I am going from set to set. Though I am giving my 100 per cent but sometimes I wonder if that is enough because I am so tired.” Aditya is working on Anurag Basu’s untitled film which would release by the end of year. There is also Malang with Mohit Suri and Sadak 2 with Mahesh and Alia Bhatt. While Sonakshi would be reprising her role as Rajjo in Dabang 3, “There is also Bhuj on the 1971 war. It is based on the real-life character of a lady who built a runway with 300 women overnight so that fighter planes could land. I am really looking forward to it,” she says. But what is it that makes them take on any role or a film? “Films pull you in different ways for different reasons. The main one is the script and the director. It is a director’s medium and his vision is compelling. The script is 80 per cent and if the director is great, you take that risk,” says Aditya. Sonakshi, given her approach to acting, is more instinctive even while selecting a role. “For me, the entire package has to fall into place — the director and the script. I make that decision there and then in my head when I hear the script. I can’t take the script, re-read it and dwell on it. Even though I can’t tell them that and show that I am eager. I might say it a week later that I will do it,” she says and throws her head back to laugh heartily, while Aditya adds, “Yes, you have to play hard to get it.” He feels that it is the best time to be an actor. “The web series allow creative people to put out their vision unedited, unadulterated and really express themselves. Even in films, I am reading more and more varied scripts. There is no formula any more as filmmakers are stepping up to the demands of the audience to see different things,” he says. Kalank stars Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit Nene who bring forth a lot of experience, which Aditya says improves their craft. “Sub-consciously, you pick up a lot of things. The way they work or approach a role is always a learning experience. They have a deeper understanding of the craft, the script or even scenes and these are things that you cannot imbibe because experience is priceless. I had more scenes with Sanju Sir and he carries this intimidating aura, which he is aware of. And since this would be a hindrance to the proper execution of a scene, he broke the ice to make sure that everyone was comfortable,” says the actor dressed in a yellow, white and black kurta. Sonakshi, on the other hand, says, “Just their presence is awe-inspiring. They are people whose work we have loved and grown up watching. I think all of us idolised Madhuri Dixit and still do. For me it is a big achievement to be a part of the same frame as her.” With Sanjay, she shares a different equation altogether. She says, “I have worked with Sanju baba before in Son of Sardar. And he is a family friend. My father (Shatrughan Sinha) is very fond of him and vice versa. My father helped him in his time of need so he remembers that. Whenever we are on the set, he would tell me stories about it. He is an emotional person,” she says and goes on to add, “More than being the superstars, they are very good human beings. And that is what you remember.” Talking of her father, one cannot of course forget that he has recently switched political sides. “I am an apolitical person. I am supporting him as a family. I won’t be campaigning for him and he is not even expecting that,” says Sonakshi and goes on to add, “As a family, we know, the switch was an important but at the same time a difficult decision. He had been with the party for long but at that time a different set up and principles were prevalent. Things have changed and he wasn’t happy. There is no point in being in a place where you aren’t appreciated. I hope he does good work with the Congress.” However, when one probes the two about the industry’s fascination with being ‘apolitical’ as recently Alia Bhatt, their co-star in the film, too had made the assertion during a discussion about Gully Boy and the Azadi track which had clear political undertones. Sonakshi says, “If you say something about someone, 5,000 people from his party will get after you and create a mockery,” as Aditya nods his head sagely and adds. “The reaction is more than what you expect. It is very tricky to say anything because the backlash is unpredictable,” he says. Aditya points out the difference with Hollywood and the way stars in America take a stand. “They have a different culture. In their late-night shows, everything is up for questioning. The satires and the way they can question authority is unparalleled. If you look at it across the world, there is no other society which can be as critical of their politicians as America and that is the beauty of that country,” he says as the publicists for the film usher them towards another interview. (The film is slated to hit the screens on April 17.)

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