After her debut less than four years ago, Sonakshi Sinha has already stamped her presence at the box office, with as many as four Rs 100-crore films to her credit. Will history repeat itself in her upcoming releases, Bullett Raja and R… Rajkumar? Sinha shares her thoughts with Sagorika Dasgupta, on her career choices, co-stars and future projects
Two of your films, Bullett Raja and R…Rajkumar, are lined up for release. How do you feel?
I am super excited because both films are very different in their own spaces. Both of them have very different filmmakers who have different styles. The only thing in common is probably my presence in them both!
How easy or difficult is it to promote two films when they are up for release so close to each other?
It’s possible with good time-management and I guess I have done that pretty well. I make sure I allot time to each one because, naturally, I want both these films to do well.
Both films were due to release on November 29 but R… Rajkumar has been postponed.
Yes, thank God! Imagine my plight had both of them released on the same date! I told them that they should think of me too. Also, since I am the only actress in both films, we couldn’t have both releasing on the same day. So we postponed R…Rajkumar by a week. That was the best option available to us. It’s made my life much simpler.
Business-wise, every week, there is a new film releasing. In fact, this month has a big release almost every week. So I really don’t think it makes a difference. It’s entirely up to the audience. As I said, I feature in both films but they are in very different spaces and my characters are very different. One has Prabhudheva, who is the mass masala king, and the other has Tigmanshu Dhulia, who is known for his hard-hitting, realistic cinema.
Bullett Raja is your first film with Tigmanshu Dhulia. What was it like working with him?
Fantastic! I have always wanted to work with him. He gave me the freedom to portray the role as I felt I should. That was really nice because I had expected him to be the kind of director who tells you exactly what to do. It was wonderful working with him.
Since you shot for both films almost simultaneously, was it difficult to switch roles from one shoot to the other?
I am always shooting about three films simultaneously.
So by now you are a pro at it?
Once you’re on the sets, you enter that zone and it all falls into place. Besides, I am a Gemini, so I like juggling things around. I like having more than one thing to do. I am a multi-tasker. I don’t know any other way to work.
What was so fascinating about the character you play in Bullett Raja?
I play a Bengali girl, Mitali, who leaves home in Calcutta to become an actress in Mumbai. She comes across these gangsters who accidentally kidnap her because they are actually kidnapping somebody else. She just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And then it’s about her friendship with these two gangsters and she eventually falls in love with Saif.
This year, you have worked with a lot of new co-stars… Saif Ali Khan, Imran Khan…
(Cuts in) In fact, only new co-actors. There was Saif, Imran, Shahid (Kapoor) and Ranveer (Singh). It’s great to work with new people. Like I said earlier, I am a Gemini and I like to change things around. Working with new people means you have to adapt to their style of working. You learn so much from the people you work with. It’s been a good year, especially when it comes to new things and new people.
Yes, that will happen. I am committed to a few films and I’m sure there will be plenty more along the way with the newer lot of actors. In fact, I will be starting a film with Arjun Kapoor in December. But it’s a remake! (Laughs)
Did you have to adopt a new style of functioning when working with Saif?
Saif is one of the most chilled-out persons I have ever worked with. He is a nawab in the true sense of the word. One day, he’s sitting in a corner reading a book, not wanting to be disturbed, wrapped up in his own world. Then, the next day, he is chatting, cracking hilarious jokes and making sure everyone is having a very cool time. I like the laid-back part of him a lot.
Your films have done very well at the box office. Are you deliberately sticking to masala entertainers?
Only because I enjoy doing them; I enjoy watching them; and enjoy being a part of them. That’s why I do so many of them. But, of course, when there are four commercial films a year, I try and do one Lootera. I do that and receive appreciation for that as well. I am unapologetic about the fact that I love masala films. I want to do what I like. I truly enjoy the signing and dancing, the over-the-top dialogue, the action, drama romance…everything. I would rather do something I enjoy rather than do something for the sake of it.
Since you try to balance your slate with a film like Lootera, does it hurt you when it doesn’t do well?
It’s not that Lootera didn’t do well. We knew from the very beginning that the film had a very small audience. It released in only 1,000 screens compared to my other films which release in 2,500-3,000 screens. So, for the 1,000 screens it released in, it did really well. The appreciation it received was overwhelming. So, whether you’re talking about my role, the film itself, every department in the film, none of my other films has got that. The unanimous response to Lootera was positive, from the critics, the audience, everybody.
Would you want to portray similar roles now?
Of course. Lootera has set a benchmark for me. So, if a film is not as good or better than Lootera, I wouldn’t want to do it. I am very happy in my own space and don’t want to do anything that does not excite me.
What do you look for in a script before you okay it?
I am very instinctive when I choose a script. I like to do films that I would like to watch as a member of the audience. So I keep that in mind and I am very instinctive. So, during a narration, I have to react to the situation while it is being read. If I find myself glancing at my watch or twiddling my thumbs, I won’t do it. If I take the time to mull over it and ask the director to give me some time to get back to him, and read the script again, I know I am not going to enjoy it. It has to click with me immediately. So far, touch wood, I have made the right choices. (Laughs)
You have worked in many South remakes, and will be featuring in a few more next year. Is that something you are mindful of when you sign a film?
(Laughs) No, not really. It’s just a co-incidence that people think of me when they plan to make remakes. I haven’t given it much thought, actually. My approach to it is that it’s a new film. Whether it’s a remake or not doesn’t bother me. I may not have even seen the original. Sometimes, I watch it and sometimes I don’t. To me, it’s a completely original film. That’s my approach.
Every newcomer wants to work with a banner like YRF or Dhrama Productions. Would you like to work with them? Are you open to that kind of cinema?
Of course I am. If they approach me with a script that I like, I would love to work with them.
Are there any directors in particular that you would like to work with?I would love to work with Vishal Bhardwaj. I also want to work with Ashutosh Gowariker.
It happened a year and a half ago, actually. We haven’t yet started filming because, coincidentally, the director has come to Mumbai to do a Hindi film. I also have to finish all these other projects. So when he is done with his film and I am done with my projects, we will start filming the Telugu film.
You have done so many action dramas. What other kinds of films would you like to do?
I would do any kind of film that appeals to me, whether a rom-com or horror. As I said, anything I would like to watch as a member of the audience. I am scared of watching horror films but I might not mind acting in one.
Your brothers had announced that they would be floating a production house.
Oh yes, we are. My brothers are putting together a home production. They have finalised their first project and they have finished the writing and scripting bit. Now they are working on the film together. It’s on its way.
What’s your involvement with it?
My involvement will be as an actor. That’s it. That’s the only job I know to do.
Doesn’t any other aspect of filmmaking interest you?
None whatsoever. To date, I do not understand a thing about lighting, camera angles. What I do when the camera starts to roll is instinctive.
Can you sum up the projects you’re working on?
I am shooting the remake of Thuppakki called Holiday with Akshay Kumar, Action Jackson with Ajay Devgn and I will be starting Amit Sharma’s film with Arjun (Kapoor) in December.