An Interview With Sonam Kapoor, Fawad Khan & Shashanka Ghosh on Khoobsurat
An Interview With Sonam Kapoor, Fawad Khan
& Director Shashanka Ghosh
Walt Disney Pictures and Anil Kapoor Film Company is all set to have its fairytale beginning, as it launches into the magical realm of Indian cinema with its Bollywood offering – ‘Khoobsurat’ – releasing on 19th September 2014.
Khoobsurat, directed by Shashanka Ghosh (Waisa Bhi Hota Hai II, Mumbai Cutting), is a family entertainer which revolves around a royal misfit (the sensational Sonam Kapoor) who ultimately falls in love with her prince charming (latest Pakistani hearthrob, Fawad Khan).
Khoobsurat is a quirky, modern romantic comedy about what happens when a vibrant, hopelessly romantic physiotherapist meets a handsome young Rajput prince who is the complete opposite of her – and is engaged to someone else. It is a battle of values between two individually crazy families — one that encourages discipline and self-restraint versus the other, which is all for spontaneity and open-mindedness. The film also features veteran actors Kirron Kher, Ratna Pathak Shah and Aamir Raza Husain.
Sonam Kapoor Q&A
Q: Rekha played your role in the original Khoobsurat, did you find any inspiration from her?
A: People are drawing comparisons, obviously, but I can never be as good as her, and this is not just about Rekhaji. Meena Kumari, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn … they were all icons and I am inspired by all of them. I am also inspired by other women who are artists. I am inspired by clothes that I find beautiful, or by art. I am not trying to imitate or ape someone and there is more to me than just the clothes. My paintings, for instance. I love art. I collect books. I do so many things and there are so many other facets to my personality as well. But I guess I can’t really carry my paintings or my books around with me, so it’s my clothes that become the talking point.”
Q: Will Rekha watch the film?
A: Rekha is close to our family. She has seen Aisha. So we will be showing Rekha this film. In fact, she will be one of the first people to see it. She has given me her blessing.
Q: Do you think you will be as good as Rekha?
A: I don’t think I can do justice to what Rekha has done. This film is an ode to Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s filmmaking. There are very few films that have been wholesome entertainers and have great value. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s films appealed to all, as they were fun films with a message. Today, such films are made by Raju Hirani. It is a huge responsibility but it was exciting to work on this film.
Q: How did you manage to sign Fawad Khan as your prince?
A: We auditioned a lot of actors for the film and thought he would be right for the role. He’s big in India as well. I don’t know anyone who watches TV and doesn’t know Fawad. In fact, he has a bigger fan following than me. We were shooting for a TV show recently, and there were girls taking pictures of his van even when he hadn’t stepped out. And it [the decision to cast him] has got nothing to do with being an Indian or a Pakistani; an artiste is an artiste. He is the perfect hero. In our industry, we have so many boys, but what we don’t have is men. When you meet Fawad, you realise he is a man.
Q: Did you feel like you had other responsibilities, other than acting, as this is your home production?
A: When I take on a job as an actor, I only concentrate on doing that, otherwise there is a conflict. You have to just do your best with what you have got. So, it’s just the matter of taking each day, enjoying my work, and saying that I will be a selfish actor who will do my best for the film.
Q: For you, what do you want the audience to take away from this film?
A: In line with the idea of the film, which is to be happy and positive. This movie shows that life, and movies by extension, don’t have to be dreary and dark. They can be colourful and cheerful.
Fawad Khan Q&A
Q: What was it like working in your first Bollywood film?
A: This is certainly not the first Bollywood project that was offered to me. Way back in 2008, I was supposed to fly down to Mumbai to meet several producers and directors, but I wasn’t able to make it. When Khoobsurat came along, there was no way I could say no. I mean, it was the chance to meet and work with a legend such as Anil Kapoor.
Q: How did Khoobsurat happen?
A: It was a pretty straightforward process. The casting director had seen my work. She sent it to AKFC (Anil Kapoor Film Company), they called me down to Mumbai and we did a couple of readings. I was signed on for the film, and then we finalized the dates for the shoot.
Q: Did you have fun working with Sonam Kapoor?
A: Absolutely, everyone from the Kapoor family. I have to say that Anil Kapoor Sahab, Rhea and Sonam have treated me like family, and have really looked after me here. Sonam especially was very sweet and accommodating. If my sugar was low sometimes, she would go and get something for me even though she had 10 people around her to get it, but it only shows how much they cared for me, and treated me like family. I was in an alien environment with new people and you do get conscious. But they all made me really comfortable.
Q: What do you think of Rekha, who played the female lead, in the original Khoobsurat?
A: I am a big fan of Rekhaji. I love her movies, especially Khoon Bhari Maang. She is an embodiment of sexiness.
Q: Don’t you feel uncomfortable that you might get criticism for moving from Pakistan to India?
A: The people who you are talking about are very few. There will be people who will criticise… they are entitled to their opinion. Art knows no culture and creed. As an actor I would like to explore myself. I do feel bad about the comments, but I choose to ignore it. I think to pay attention to it is unnecessary.
Q: What was the transition like, moving from Pakistan to India?
A: It was important for me to come out of my comfort zone. For any artist coming from a different country, finding a place in a new industry can be tough. It’s an educational experience to work in an industry that has mastered the art of creating an entertainment package. My expectations are real, and after working in Khoobsurat, I will go back enriched with a different experience.
Q: How did you prepare for your role?
A: I saw the original film as part of my homework. It is a timeless classic but our film is different. Rakesh Roshan played the role of a doctor and I play a Rajput prince, so it’s different in a way.
Q: You are starting to become popular with a lot of girls here. How do you feel about that?
A: Honestly, I blush like a little boy. It’s flattering to have a crazy fan experience but it’s extremely embarrassing at the same time. It came as a surprise when I experienced similar fanatical fan moments in India, which was a common thing back in Pakistan.
Q: Finally, what was your experience like working in Khoobsurat?
A: It’s been an absolutely amazing experience. Everyone has been so welcoming and the film’s unit especially has been just like family. On my birthday, for instance, we were still shooting and I couldn’t go back home to Pakistan. The unit decided that we would break at midnight to cut a cake and then carry on shooting. At midnight, it turned out that not only did they have a cake, but they had contacted my family and recorded video messages from them for my birthday, which they played back for me. I was just so overwhelmed. That was such a thoughtful thing to do.
Shashanka Ghosh Q&A
Q: Aren’t you worried about comparisons that are going to be made with the original Khoobsurat?
A: “Why should I be? If I were to go out on the street and ask an average guy between the age of 18 and 25, would he have seen Rekha’s Khoobsurat?”
Q: How did you want to contemporise this version of the film?
A: Either we could have Sonam coming into the stern household of an army man or into a traditional royal household. We decided to go for the latter because it brought opulence into the canvas.
Q: How did you decide to cast Sonam as the lead?
A: She was good even in her debut film, Saawariya. The Fashionista tag overrides Sonam’s acting talent. My film will showcase her range of emotions.