The ‘Sonam Factor’ is compelling. Dad Anil Kapoor credits her birth to the turnaround in his career with his films Ram Lakhan and Tezaab sweeping the box-office in the late’80s. And while she attributes her entrepreneur husband, Anand Ahuja, for being the harbinger of luck in her life, he referred to her as, “girlfriend, best friend, wife, life partner, #LUCKYCHARM. (Five in one)…” on social media. Yes, the spirited and sassy Sonam Kapoor Ahuja does seem to have an auspicious bearing on the men in her life.
Uncannily, her last release, The Zoya Factor, a quirky rom-com, based on the bestseller written by Anuja Chauhan, had her play Zoya Solanki, the lucky charm of the Indian cricket team. It may have been a slow earner but the frothy story that combines cricket, love, luck and superstition deserves merit for its theme. “I believe every girl born in this world is lucky. It’s a shame that for years girls were considered a burden. My father believes I’m lucky for him. Even my sister, Rhea (Kapoor), is lucky for him. We girls are like gifts to our parents. The name Zoya in the film means the same, a gift,” she says. Rooting for girls she continues, “In fact, you come across old parents, who say it’s our daughters, who are taking care of us eventually.”
One more reason she did the Abhishek Sharma film was because she believes it’s important to do ‘easy breezy’ films. Quiz her whether she adheres to superstitions and she reveals, “Yes yes, I do, I’m an Indian. We have limbu mirchi in our car and outside our door. We have a murti in the car. I have dahi shakkar every time I travel.” The film, which paired her opposite Dulquer Salman, had uncle Sanjay Kapoor play her dad. “I get along with Chacha. He’s more of a friend than an uncle because he’s young at heart. He’s easy-going and a no-hassle person. I can open up to him. He’ll never go and tell my parents all the wrong things I’ve done in life,” she laughs.
Sonam, who debuted with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s extravaganza Saawariya in 2007, doesn’t mind playing small roles provided her characters have texture “Even in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Sanju, films based on real stories, my characters were fictional. But they took the story forward. I guess the directors just wanted me to be in the films,” she grins. She explains, “I don’t believe in the length of the role. But I don’t want to be a mere decoration in the film. When you leave the theatre you do think about my characters like Bittu Sharma in Delhi-6 or Pari Walia in PadMan.”
For her it’s important to work in films that make a difference, in terms of what they’re trying to say. “I’m proud of PadMan. I believe it’s one of my best performances. I love working with R.Balki. I’d work with him in a heartbeat just because of the person he is. He respects women. He has integrity and intelligence,” she says. She holds Rakyesh Mehra (Delhi-6), Rajkumar Hirani (Sanju), Ram Madhvani (Neerja) and Shashanka Ghosh (Veere Di Wedding) in high esteem too. “They’re incredible people and have an amazing outlook towards life. They’re idealistic,” she gushes.
She believes in spacing out her films as every character demands a bit from her. “Sir Ian Murray McKellen (Lord Of The Rings) once said something that resonated with me. He said each character is played through the filter of who you are. You’re like a sieve. There’s always a bit of you in the character and a bit of the character left behind in you.” She elaborates, “For instance, I can’t listen to Rajesh Khanna’s songs anymore. A song like Mere sapno ki rani… I can’t enjoy it in the way I used to before Neerja. Because in the film, it plays a lot.”
She doesn’t buy the perception that actresses earlier didn’t get meaty roles. “Nutan did memorable films like Bandini, Sujata, Saraswati Chandra… just as Madhubala and Waheeda Rehman had their share of great roles. Later, Madhuri Dixit did incredible work in films like Beta and Hum Aapke Hai Koun! So did Sridevi in Laadla, Chandni, Chaalbaaz… Kajol and Rani Mukerji have done great work too,” she explains. She dismisses the demarcation between good and grey characters. For her characters are just people with idiosyncrasies. “In Raanjhanaa, my character made choices, which weren’t easy for people to digest. But that didn’t make her a bad person.” Beauty lies in imperfection and Sonam surely has learnt to revel in it.