Soha Ali Khan Speaks to Subhash K Jha on her career's finest role in Khoya Khoya Chand.
Khoya Khoya Chand (KKC) is your second period film.
You mean after Rituparno Ghosh's Antar Mahal. But my God, they're two completely different eras! I love going back in time. That's why I studied history. Even when I take off my makeup and wear a pair of jeans
people say I belong to a different era.
Is this a film about Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman?
Sudhir Mishra is definitely inspired by them. But the central romance between my character and Shiney Ahuja's is simply reminiscent of all romances in the film industry in the 1950s. Your could say my character is a
professional colleague of Waheeda Rehman.
She could be Sharmila Tagore?
Ha. My mother would be a generation removed from my character. My mother would probably have grown up watching my character from KKC. My mom thinks I look like her only in passing. But everyone thinks I look
a lot like her.
Today you seem to prefer unconventional roles?
That's a narrow place to be in. It slots you as 'serious' and 'arty'. I'm a fun person in real life. I like to make people laugh. And I'd like do that on screen. But there aren't too many comic roles written for female leads. I
don't know why.
So are you funny in KKC?
I'm spunky. Sudhir Mishra's female characters are very strong. They do cry. I think he has got strong passionate women in his life. It's liberating to be a female protagonist in Sudhir's cinema.
You've played several liberated characters.
Not too many. In Ahista Ahista I was repressed. Khoya Khoya Chand is my first author-backed film. For the first time there's a sense of ownership about the role and film.
There's also the fear that if they
don't like me they won't like my film. The amount of preparation I had to do, from learning to ride a horse to sword-fighting to a classical dancing and a sexy cabaret number....
Sexy cabaret number?!
Yeah. That was my brief. That was something I had never done. I had to drop my inhibitions completely. So far one did such things in the privacy of the bedroom. I had great fun doing it.
You dance in your bedroom?
Don't you? These are things one does when no one's watching.
But Khoya Khoya Chand not aimed at a mass audience?
It is. This is Sudhir's first full-fledged romantic film. This one is all about the heart and emotions. He again goes back to his noire style in his next film Tera Kya Hoga Johnny.
Do you think the average 20-something will connect with the 1950s like you did?
Oh, but I didn't connect so easily with that era. Although my mom was an actress in the 1960s I haven't watched that many films from the 50s. I found the language archaic. For this role I spent four months with an
But the minute I got on the sets Sudhir asked me to forgot what I had been taught. Because my character was being groomed into stardom she had to speak with the faults.
many times I had to consciously speak incorrectly. But then when my actress-character shot for the film within the film I was able to speak correctly.
What do you think of our films going back to an era gone by?
For me personally it was a beautiful and unique experience. The past is always exciting. It was so much fun dressing up for this role. This was my most glamorous role to date. Every day my stylist Anahita and I were
working on a different looks.
How long did you take to get ready every day?
Not too long. For me the makeup and clothes are the superficialties. I'm more keen to get on with the scene. In her days my mom could do her own makeup, accessories everything on her own. I'm useless.
need professional help (laughs). We're a more casual breed today, at least on camera. They used to dress up a lot more elaborately in the earlier times. But on camera we've to be very careful.
Rukh Khan and his six-pack we all need to go to the gym.
Your brother too has become very physique conscious?
It depends on his mood. We come from the same breed. He's a litte lazy. I'm more disciplined.
What has Saif got to say about your career?
Not much. We generally run into each other at public events. Otherwise he's so busy.
Now that you are getting author-backed roles are you hesitant about the prop roles?
Yes. Now there's a sense of greed. I'd now like to be the spirit of the film. Even when you aren't the main character you could make a difference to the plot. Like Tom Cruise did in Magnolia. Now I read scripts very
I reject even leads that I don't find interesting. I find it very reassuring when someone like Sudhir Mishra who praises me also casts me repeatedly. I'm done with frivolous film, thought not commercial
cinema for sure.
How's life otherwise?
Fortunately I've friends outside the industry. Otherwise a film actor could forget real life. I like playing sports, reading books, going off on holidays all alone. I love being on my own.