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"I am not a method actor, I am a spontaneous one"

Sonakshi Sinha, who plays Satya Chaudhary in Abhishek Varman’s magnum opus, Kalank, talks to Bhavi Gathani about her layered role and her process of approaching various characters

How are you feeling right now, just before the release of the film?

Promotions are ongoing and they are not tiring right now. It’s just the beginning. (Smiles)

Your look in the film is that of a poised, elegant lady of the manor.

First, thank you for that. And, yes, the look shows me like this, which is very unlike me in real life! (Laughs)

How did you feel when you were offered this magnum opus?

To be honest, the first time I heard the narration, I was blown away. Abhishek (Varman) narrated it to me and I remember thinking that this was such a beautiful world that he had created. It was also the way he brought amazing characters to life. Every character in the story is extremely important to the narrative. As for my character, Satya Chaudhary, I felt she was very beautiful.

She is a strong woman who holds the family together. She puts the needs of the family before her needs and makes sacrifices for everyone she loves. It was an absolutely amazing character to play. I was sold on it when I heard the narration of Kalank.

From what we have seen in the trailer and the songs, your character is very intriguing. She seems quite layered.

Yes, absolutely! And I think that is what a trailer should do. The trailer should leave you curious to know more and to get you to watch the film. I feel the trailer has achieved that. I am really happy with the response that my character and the film, overall, have received. It is fantastic to see the world Abhishek has created with this film.

Going by glimpses of what we have seen of you and your character, Satya seems to have power in her silence. Was it a challenge to emote laregly through just your expressions?

Well, I had to convey those emotions through my eyes. (Laughs) I think that has become my forte now. It is a really good feeling to be able to do that. In fact, I personally prefer to emote through my eyes without having to say much. Also, as an actor, if you can manage to do this, I think it is a feather in your cap. It is a huge thing to beautifully convey the emotions you want, the message you want, without using words. You are spot-on when you say that Satya is the kind of a person who keeps everything inside but still manages to tell everyone what she is feeling through her expressions, through her eyes.

You had said that you always try to give life to your characters. How did you bring Satya to life in Kalank?

As I mentioned before, the fact that Satya is a strong woman resonated with me. She has strong family values and that helped me relate to her.

Since this is an ensemble cast with complex relationship dynamics, how important is the strength of the other characters for you to get your part right?

It is very important. And when you have such fine actors, to feed off one another’s energies always helps you perform better. It was such a great experience shooting for this film. I really enjoyed doing my scenes with Alia (Bhatt), Adi (Aditya Roy Kapur) and Sanju baba (Sanjay Dutt). It was such a wonderful experience that it is difficult to put in words.

You had some senior actors in this film with you. What is the best part about working with them?

The entire filming process was amazing. Sanju sir has known me since I was a child and has seen me grow up. He has been a friend to my family for a long time. My father is very fond of him and he is also very fond of us. So the feeling is mutual. I have had the pleasure of working with him before in Son Of Sardaar, and it is always fun to work with him. He has all these amazing stories to tell from back in the day, anecdotes and stuff like how my dad helped him when he was facing tough times. It is lovely to just sit down and have a chat with him. And, of course, sharing screen space with him is a huge deal.

Madhuri (Dixit-Nene) ma’am is someone that everybody, especially us actors, has looked up to at some point in their lives. She is a role model for all, whether it is about how talented she is, the way she dances, the way she speaks, the way she walks, it is just amazing, inspiring and motivating. I am so happy that I am in the same film as she is. It is like checking something off my bucket list. (Laughs)

From commercial films, to character-driven roles, to heroine-centric films, you have played varied characters. Speaking about your bucket list, is there any kind of film that you still want to try?

I always take things as they come. I do not have a set list of things that I want to do. I hear enough scripts every day and I am very instinctive when it comes to choosing a role to portray. I have to immediately like the role to want to do it. It has to awaken my instincts to say ‘yes’. I listen to very different characters in the scripts that come to me and I pick those which I feel are right, those I feel like actually doing.

Is there something specific that you look for when you choose your roles?

One of the most important things is that it has to be important to the narrative. It just has to propel the story forward. After I did films like Akira, Noor and Force 2, I have not wanted to do anything that is less than that. I want to do roles that really challenge me, roles that push me in certain ways. And that is what I am doing.

The thing is that after I did these films I mentioned, I realised what I was missing out on as an actor. That was a revelation and it helped me decide what kind of films I want to do henceforth. You live, you learn. The entire working process from when I started my journey in this industry till now has been a learning process for me. Whatever I have learnt, I have learnt on the job. It was not like I came here prepared to be an actor. My work and the process have taught me a lot. And what I learnt about myself after some films that I did is that I want to continue being part of such stories. I want to pick up roles that motivate me to give my best.

Do you have a process of internalizing the roles that you play?

Honestly, my approach to a film like Dabangg, a film like Rowdy Rathore and a film like Lootera is the same. I land up on the set and I talk to my director to understand the vision that he has in mind for the character that I am playing. And then I just go ahead and play it. I am not a method actor; I am a spontaneous actor. I believe strongly in spontaneity and it is difficult for me to act until the camera is rolling. My process starts once the camera starts rolling and it is something I cannot explain in words. It just comes to me that I have to become this person, portray their characteristics and bring them to life.

Kalank has been the talk of the town since it was first announced and since then the buzz just kept increasing. With interest at its peak, does it make you nervous before the release?

One should be happy that the film, the posters, the trailer and the songs are doing so well. It does not make me nervous but I am very glad that people have appreciated what they have seen because it is not an easy film to make. Every film that we make, we do with a lot of love. The effort and hard work that go into it, not only from us but also the entire crew, is huge. So, when that is appreciated by the audience, it feels very good.

What is the one thing you want the audience to understand about your character Satya when they watch the film on April 17?

I just want them to remember the strength she has and the sacrifice she has made. I want them to understand it.

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