SANGEETHA DEVI K
Soha Ali Khan has emerged out of her famous parents' and brother's shadows. She is set to conquer new frontiers.
"I turn to my mom for help on makeup, clothes and performance. It helps to get a female perspective."
PHOTO: S. SUBRAMANIUM
SO `HOT' Soha Ali Khan is in demand after `Rang De Basanti'.
Sharmila Tagore and Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi's heiress, Soha Ali Khan Pataudi, wears her ancestry with ease. She grew up watching movies and acting was a natural choice. Soha did take to acting, but only after studying at the Oxford University followed by the London School of Economics. Unlike most star kids who make a red carpet entry into Bollywood, Soha started off with a Bengali classic. "Oh, they make such wonderful movies in Bengal," Soha admits, talking to us during a brief visit to the city.
The `art'y heartland
"Srikanto, an adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's classic work, was my first movie. Then came Rituparno Ghosh's Antar Mahal. People tell me that I looked the part in Antar Mahal. Actually, it was a demanding film since it was a world so removed from my own life. The film was set in the past; the clothes, the make-up... everything was so alien to me. I'd love to do good Bengali films any time," says Soha.
The Hindi film industry might have written off Soha after forgettable films like Dil Maange More and Shaadi no.1, had not Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Rang de Basanti (RDB) come along. Soha waxes eloquent on her RDB experience and says, "This was such a contrast to Antar Mahal. In Rang De... , I could bring in elements from my own life - right from my speech to clothes and music. Also, having grown up in Mumbai, I am more comfortable speaking in Hindi than my mother tongue Bengali. Antar Mahal was quote unquote an art film, and RDB, quote unquote a commercial film. To me, it is important to be part of good cinema." Soha admits that the presence of Aamir was a driving point for her to sign RDB. "When you are offered a film that stars Aamir, you don't have to worry if the film will be good. He would have already looked into all the details. The standard of filmmaking will also be good and you stand to learn a lot from him. I did exactly that. It's a script-driven movie and never once was I worried about being overshadowed by Aamir."
"I want to transcend the barriers of language and region," says Soha. The first step in that direction, is Postcard, an English film directed by LA-based Rajshri Ojha. "It's a small-budget film that is being shot in Cochin, Mumbai and LA. It's a bit like Love Actually with parallel stories running through the film. My part was shot in Mumbai and Keira Chaplin's (granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin) was filmed in LA."
Mom's the word
The acid test for Soha is sharing screen space with her mother Sharmila Tagore. Ahead of acting with her mom in Aparna Sen's first Hindi film, The Jewellery Box, Soha admits, "I am terrified. People say mom and I look alike and even speak alike. But the similarities end there." The film also stars Konkona Sen and Govinda and Soha says, "It's an unusual comedy and talks about women and their jewellery box."
Help at home
"I turn to my mom for help on makeup, clothes and performance. It helps to get a female perspective. To choose a film, I consult my brother, who I think is a subtle, sometimes underplayed, but fabulous actor. He has always been a great actor but got his due quite late. Dil Chahta Hai did the trick for him," says Soha. The only outsider to work is her father. "My dad doesn't watch films. He only checks on me to see if I have enough money and if I am happy. If dad had his way, I'd be still be having a 9-to-5 job at Citibank. Like any other parent, he wanted me to have a secure job."
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