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Updated: June 5, 2014 17:29 IST

In the safety net

ANUJ KUMAR
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The media asked uncomfortable questions about her weight but the weight of box office figures quickly changed the discourse for Sonakshi Sinha. Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash
The Hindu The media asked uncomfortable questions about her weight but the weight of box office figures quickly changed the discourse for Sonakshi Sinha. Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

Sonakshi Sinha emerged as the alternative to the pretty young girls on the scene but four years and ten films later, she seems to be driven by box office results.

A year is a long time in the movie business. Around the same time last year the media was fawning over Sonakshi Sinha for her poignant portrayal of a patient of tuberculosis in Vikramaditya Motwane’s poetic “Lootera”. It is vacation time again and Sonakshi is in news as director A.R. Murugadoss has put together yet another remake of his Tamil hit in the form of “Holiday” where she is once again attempting to shine in the reflected glory of Akshay Kumar as he dutifully smashes the threat to the nation. This time the excitement has given way to weariness in terms of costumes, co-star and cloying emotions.

Perhaps, “Lootera”’s dismal performance at the box office and award functions has pushed Sonakshi to play safe. Ironically, safe was not the word for her when she started in 2010. She broke the existing image of the uber cool Bollywood heroine by bringing the rustic touch back in vogue with “Dabangg”, “Rowdy Rathore” and “Son of Sardar”. She emerged as a heroine with a mind and personality of her own and it reflected in the characters she played.

The media asked uncomfortable questions about her weight but the weight of box office figures quickly changed the discourse. Sonakshi brashly stated nobody asks all the other girls who sport the same svelte frame.

In the last one year she seemed to have lost her pole position in the race as the rules seem to be changing. Heroine-driven films are making good money at the box office. In this scenario, Sonakshi looks a little odd as she still prefers to walk in the shadow of a star and her fascination for remakes of South Indian films refuses to abate. After “Holiday” she has Prabhudheva’s “Action Jackson” opposite Ajay Devgn and then she has “Tevar”, a remake of “Okkadu”, opposite Arjun Kapoor. Doesn’t she feel the weight of sameness on her shoulders?

Sonakshi has her logic. She says she is not keen to do roles which require a lot of skin show and intimate scenes with the male actor. This obviously makes her suitable for the roles of demure semi-urban girls that the rehashes of the southern blockbusters offer. She doesn’t mind a “Rowdy Rathore” or an “R…Rajkumar” even if it is dubbed as socially regressive by the critics. She holds forth her father’s mantra: if you can’t be the best, be different.

“Of course, the box office is important to me but I don’t fret over it. Obviously, last year belonged to Deepika (Padukone) but before that four of my films made 100 crores at the box office. There is a definite surge in films where female actors have substantial roles. It is a welcome change but I will sign a so-called heroine-oriented film only if the script appeals to me. I will not do it just because the female character has a meatier part,” she muses. After a pause, she states, “I think the media is mistaken that in films where the male stars dominate the show, the heroine has nothing to do. Action can never be justified without an emotional track in Hindi films. We have a definite role to play and it requires some effort. Not everybody can do that. We look good together and perhaps that’s why producers like to repeat us and as far as I known we are far from creating any record. This is only our fourth film together.”

The promos of “Holiday” show her punching away and Sonakshi says that the script required her to showcase her sporty side. It seems the look is inspired by Laila Ali and Sonakshi nods. “I was a regular in the school’s volleyball team and you can find me in the gym three times a week. You know I always wanted to sport braids but the kind of characters that I have played hardly provide me the opportunity. Here was my chance. The good thing is Murugadoss asked me to make it look like a professional. He didn’t want me to carry the feminine touch in those scenes. It made it easier for me,” relates Sonakshi, who was given training by Vijender Singh.

Her tenor suggests that she is not keen to go the “Lootera” way anytime soon. “No, I am in the midst of deliberations on something on those lines and will soon come out with an announcement,” she clarifies.

Meanwhile, her fascination for Southern flicks gets deeper. She has signed “Lingaa” opposite Rajinikanth. “It is an honour to start your career in Tamil cinema with Rajinikanth. I have already started shooting for it.” The age gap is obvious and Sonakshi’s knowledge of Rajinikanth’s body of work can be gauged from the fact that when one asked her about her favourite Rajinikanth film, she came up with “Hum” after a long pause. “On the first day I was very nervous but when Rajini sir came he said he is more nervous because he is working with a close friend’s daughter.” She confirms that she is cast opposite the superstar. “The script fully justifies the casting,” she chuckles.

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