Soha Ali Khan on BBC Radio


By IndiaFM News Bureau

Technically speaking she is supposed to be the Junior Tigress as everyone alike fondly calls her illustrious father Tiger. Her eyes speak the volumes of love and warmth bundled into one and her forehead resembles the white spotless crescent moon. Maybe that’s what prompted the ace director, Sudhir Mishra to cast her as the lead actress in his forthcoming period film, Khoya Khoya Chand. We are indeed talking about the svelte actress, Soha Ali Khan, the daughter of the yesteryear actress, Sharmila Tagore and ace cricketer ‘Tiger’ Pataudi. BBC caught up with this actress in an exclusive chat session, excerpts of which are being brought to you exclusively by your favorite online Bollywood friend IndiaFM.

Khoya Khoya Chand is a trip down memory lane, will you get people going to reminiscing about the golden years.
We hope so, that’s the plan, we plan to take back people in time to what was an definitely an era, a golden era of film making in India. I think we have done both through the visuals as well as through a fantastic audio. Tell us something about your role in the film?

Well, I am playing an actress from the 1950’s. In fact, when the film starts in 1953, I am pretty much a junior artist, an extra on the sets. The film traces my rise to super stardom and sort of the various crises that happen in my personal and professional life so it’s almost a biopic aspect it’s not based on any particular actor.

Shiney says you are very natural as Nikita, was it role easy for you to do?

No, I think today in of 2007, I am also an actor and I am also from Muslim background So I share that with my character but I think that’s where the comparisons ends. And as you know, in 1950’s when you think of actresses from that time period they were really quote unquote heroines. They were so accomplished, they sang for themselves, they danced for themselves, they did action, tragedy, romance and comedy and everything. We think of Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Vyjayanthimala, Nargis, and Nutan and we know that people would line up to go and see Meena Kumari’s films. I can’t think of a single female actor who has that kind of stature today. Really nobody goes to see, it’s all about the hero, which is sad because you don’t get that kind of roles that used to get in 50’s as well. What I’m saying is I had to learn a lot because today you have characters in the films so today even if you can’t dance there is place in the industry. Even if you are not completely conventionally beautiful you have a place in the industry so I think we are lot more forgiving today than they were in 50’s and to sort of try and play that was very challenging.

Your character is that of an actress from 50’s and 60’s. Is there any particular character that you would like to do like your mom, Waheeda Rehman and Meena Kumari and likes?

I think I would be setting myself for a barrage of criticism, if I say yes. Because to imitate any one of them is impossible, so I would say that she was perhaps a professional colleague of Waheeda Rehman. She was sort of existed, she was one other star among stars of that time period. So she definitely had colors, she is definitely inspired by Waheeda Rehman, Meena Kumari, and Madhubala etc. but she is not any of them.

Now it is quite different for you, as it was quite a different kind of role from what you played in Rang De Basanti, how would you compare the two roles?

Rang De Basanti did not involve a lot of acting. Of course, the circumstances that happened in the lives of these characters were unusual. Moreover, I haven’t faced anything remotely like that kind of personal tragedy, but the character was very much like what I’m - a bit of a tom boy and hanging out with these guys and going out for drive and drinking and just doing things which normal college people do. Speaking in a very contemporary way and wearing normal clothes like Kurtis and Jeans and just very new to life and somebody you meet when you go to college in India. Whereas obviously the character that I am playing in Khoya Khoya Chand is something very removed from real life, it’s something larger than life in many ways. But of course it is human and see the human side to her. What we try to show in the film is sort of behind the screen story. What happens when actress goes home and takes of her make-up and how she relate with her mother and her father and her relationship and her personal life and competitors at work.

The character that I am playing in Khoya Khoya Chand is something very removed from real life, it’s something larger than life in many ways.

Tell us what your brother Saif thinks of your role?

I think he is just nervous for me and he always is actually. And I’m quite intrigue to know what he thinks of it and my mother cause neither of them has seen the film yet but of course he’s opinion means lot to me and we had worked briefly and have done a couple of ads together and he’s been great. And he always stays behind for me or otherwise he’s happy to run off the sets but he stays back, if he feels I need another take, he always watches me on the monitor more than he watches himself. So it’s really good to have people who love you and who want to see you successful, who have so much advice to give you because they are from the industry.

So he is involved then in terms of you career?

He is quite involved but he is hugely busy and I think he just does not have enough time to do so many things that is close to him. He’s got his children, his own family and so many other commitments and he’s traveling so much, for example right now he is in Bangkok shooting for his film and he will be gone till New Year. So, its difficult for him, but whenever he gets time of course have a good session together.

Your family comes across as very cool and modern; you just don’t interfere with each others life but is that what its really like?

Ya! Really is for example my father does not watch Hindi films at all, I don’t think he has ever seen my mother’s, my brother, or my films and a lot of people find that quite strange but you know it never just bothers me and mother also which is very liberal. There is sort of brought us up they have invested a lot in educating us. I think the idea now is to make certain decisions ourselves and we live independently which is great. I do not know but I think I am very sensible as well; I have not done anything hugely disastrous.

What was like just growing up in such a famous parents because we used to take about filmy families but you didn’t just have filmy family quite sporting family, lot of pro following when you are going out?

But I was lucky that I was born in Bombay but then I spend most of my home time in Delhi which is not as quote unquote filmy as Bombay. So I didn’t grow up filmy parties and I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up in the industry any stars kid or any thing and I’m quite grateful for that. I became aware of who my father was when I went off to England, I realized he captained Oxford because I was in Oxford as well and I learned about his cricketing career because so many people asked questions so I used to make up answer to tell them and I did some research you know. Its strange and now having joined the industry which my mother had been a part of for fifty years and now is when I have appreciated the kind of work she has done. The opportunity she had to work with the people like Satyajit Ray and you know some of the films she has done.

So you are telling me that you didn’t know how famous they were?

No really, because my father was not playing cricket when I was born. Some father-son matches happened and he happily scored 300 hundred runs and just didn’t get out and I think that was his highest score playing against the bunch of nine years olds and my mom of course wasn’t working in film either so yaah I was quite oblivious.

Do you think that is inevitable that eventually you would end up in films? Cause of your mother, your brother and just because of the ways it works?

Everyone wanted me to do something else so it was kind of me going the other way. So it was quite strange may be because I was the youngest and I was a girl and my mother was quite sort of worried about me and thought I would do better in a field that was not so much about personal insecurity and financial insecurities. They just wanted to see me more settled and stable. And this is not the industry to sort of settle and be stable at all. And I went away and I made the decision to quit working at the bank that I was working at to the film without telling anyone and I wouldn’t advice that to anyone out there tell your parents before you make any life altering decisions because there was a cold war for next two months.

What is your colleague says at your bank that I’m quiting to make a film?

I know my boss when I first started working there she said why you are here, why you are not working in the films is just set of a time. Ya, no, no I never going to work in films and then exactly fifteen months later I was handing in my notice and saying I’m going off to do a film.

Were you working in India when you working in the bank?

I actually applied to a bank in England. I was to work near green park station in Bakri Square and I was very excited about that because I do love England. I had lived there four years and made some friends there and I wanted to stay there but then they said that they would train me in Bombay and I came to Bombay and worked with bank here and then I was completely seduced by films, which is very seductive as work and it is very magical. It’s been two and half years I have been working in the industry, and I haven’t looked back.

How did you find London when you were here, you know old memories of being in London?

I loved it but I missed most is toffee flavored yogurt like good.

We were talking before about being part of the showbiz family obviously comes with that lots of media attentions and most of the worst thing you had to deal with that’s written about you and your family?

Not a lot actually has been written about me personally but yaah a lot is written about my brother and I think I have been slightly num to it now because it’s been many years even before I was been become a quote unquote public figure and I am used to reading about them. So I think as long as there is communication between the family members, you know what is actually going on because it’s always slightly distressing to read about the things in a paper when you don’t really know. So I think as long as you talking to each other and keeping each other in a loop then its not that sort distressed.

Soha, you mentioned about your brother so tell us about latest him and his girlfriend because there is lots of speculation.

He is very open about his life. I always feel uncomfortable talking about someone else but because he sort of wears his heart on his sleeve. And we all know to whom he his seeing these days and I just want to say that I have never seen him so happy and he is very genuinely happy, his career is going very well right now and it all seems coming together for him.

So get on quite well with Kareena?

I have met her only on a couple of occasions so I still know her better as an actor. And I saw Jab We Met recently, which I thought it was phenomenal performance by her. And you know whatever I have seen it’s been lovely but it was only couple of dinners we had together.

She has been to the family home yet.

No, not yet. I do not think she has met my parents as yet as far as I know. But she met me and my sister and we have met for a couple of dinners and its been very nice.

How come your brother handled all that because whomever he went out with, there is always someone talking about it?

I think he is all right and he is all grown up now and sometimes it must get to him he is completely loss of anonymity, people look at you whenever you go out. I see more of that in him than in my life so it must be frustrating I think. To have every thing you do and then be scrutinized and analyzed and somebody having an opinion on everything you do. But then again, he must be num about it since he has been in the industry for fourteen years.

I have to ask you on subject of romance just about yourself. There is lots of talk about you and Abhay.
There is lots of talk about it. I think the job of an actor to be in love more then it is to work in films. And genuinely like get linked up as you know with lot of your co-actors. Abhay and I are good friends and we have done a film together. And we have been to see films together and we must have gone out for a meals with a group of people, and the likes, people tend to write about that but we are only good friends.

I have one question are you currently seeing anyone at the moment?

I am not actually currently I am single but I am quite romantic and you know give some time.