Joined: 23 December 2014
She's always been my Lil' Miss Sunshine. From the day she flounced into Sanjay Leela Bhansali's well-appointed drawing room in a white skirt and cascading hair, Sonam got my heart. Just like that. There's that ineffable feeling. She's beautiful, she's fickle, she's insecure, she's all love. And she's mine. I feel proprietorial about her every time I meet her. It's like a warm sugar treacle feeling that enters your soul and makes space in it.
Saawariya bombed and I knew she was disappointed as hell. Also because Deepika Padukone had whizzed past and so had good friend Ranbir Kapoor. Whenever we met we gossiped like school pals. She would yammer to fill the air in. There was one occasion when I misunderstood her intentions and wrote a particularly harsh piece. That was bad journalism. If she was hurt she didn't show it. Sorry Sonam.
But Sonam hung in there. Her acting chops were drubbed down but she took it chin up. She made it as the country's biggest stylista and represented us at international events including Cannes. She became a designer's muse. Then Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Aanand L Rai stepped in. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Raanjhanaa respectively offered glimmers of what she could be. Under the right hands she could shine like a beacon.
A photo shoot with Sonam is like a mini movie production. Hundred of costumes are fluffed and lined up. An armada of stylists, managers, make-up and hair dressers show up. It's full scale Bollywood. And the results are there for everyone to see. She's for sure launched a hundred Filmfare covers. I'd like to believe she puts in that extra effort for me, for the magazine because of that special bond. She's never spoken in the press about her personal life. But off it, she's vocal and garrulous. Be it her director boyfriend or a businessman she was dating briefly, she oscillated between extreme warmth to feeling-so-blah. Sonam's yet to find her knight-in-shining-armour.
I suspect she's amused by my colleague Anuradha Chaudhary and me. She believes we are biased and that we don't love her enough and yet gives us those polar-bear hugs. Once we were jointly interviewing her and she was worried that we would fight for our bylines. A friend of mine Ashish met her. He fell in love. He wrote the most beautiful piece on her. Most of which I didn't understand. But there was poetry, no less. Sonam, who was shooting two shifts, gave him a couple of hours. Ashish is today a fan boy.
She's committed to causes. Be it the LGBT cause, which she tirelessly espouses or other charities she won't talk about. She gives it as good as she gets. She sportingly turned up to accept a nomination and an award at some local version of the Razzies. Plus, she's a sport when it comes to taking potshots at herself. Besides Alia Bhatt now, I'm yet to see another female actor so easy with criticism or self-deprecation.
She's impossible when she shoots her mouth off. That's pretty much got her into trouble with her co-stars. We have shhhed' her up so many times and also tried to censor her copy! But she's sharp and nothing can stop that ticking mind to morph into a racy tongue. Often a star's generosity can be gauged by the food they serve you. We are old school that way. You are what you serve. And Sonam's house serves up a gourmet of food. Never mind even if she won't eat a morsel. Generosity of spirit is a state of mind. Much like a fashion statement. I must add there was a time when Sonam's dad, Anil Kapoor, would insist on serving the best akoori sandwiches in the whole wide world.
And then providence came in the form of Neerja. A biopic that has her name written on it! She gave the performance of her life, an air of tragedy and anguish seldom seen on scene. This was Sonam's annus mirabilis. Her scene in the aircraft where she reads her boyfriend's letter or when she huddles into safety... it seemed as if some faucet had opened up and she was sucking all of life's experiences out of it.
Two years ago she had told me that by 30 she would be married and settle far far away from the movies. But after Neerja I know for a fact that she's going nowhere. And that it's just begun! But with Sonam you can't tell anything. She's really like the story book princess who can grab the folds of the gown and disappear into the night. Like that day in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's well appointed drawing room.
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