Actress Sonakshi Sinha believes that sometimes the best way to get across a difficult message is through humour. By Ayushi Sharma
Turned out in all-white — a lacy bralette draped with a short cropped jacket and culottes paired with sporty shoes — I could feel the peaceful aura which actress Sonakshi Sinha exuded at a single glance. We are like yin and yang, as I am dressed in black. Both perfect for an ideal exchange of ideas.
Though she has adorned simplicity, her choice of roles are bold and more complex. In her latest outing Khandaani Shafakhana, she plays Baby Bedi, who is a quick-witted small-town medical representative from an orthodox Punjabi family. Despite her earnest efforts, her modest income never matches up to the mounting bills, which results in multiple loans and creditors knocking at her door constantly. One day, she is presented with an unique opportunity. She must choose between her utterly ordinary life or bail her family out of their perennial money crunch by running a sex clinic, which she inherits from her estranged uncle. The conditions in his will are a tad bit unusual. What follows is the no-holds-barred journey of a girl in a world where people prefer to hush up things. This small-town girl will break all the taboos around sex, open hearts and ultimately, minds.
Sonakshi says that there is a social taboo around the ‘sex’ word itself. We have made it abnormal to say it out loud or discuss it openly with anyone, within families or even with friends. That’s just how, as a society, we have been brought up. Yes, things are changing gradually. She says one of reasons why she did the film was, “Because I am one of those people who never had this conversation with my parents. And this despite the fact that I come from a liberal and modern family. So imagine, if I am having this issue, what people in small towns are going through and how they must be feeling. It is surprising to see sex being treated as a taboo especially in a country, which is so heavily populated. In the trailer, there’s a dialogue — Duniya mein 17 per cent abaadi vale hum aur baat toh aise karte hain jaise 130 crore log parshaad vale kele khake prakat hue hain. (We constitute 17 per cent of the population and we talk as if this appeared as a blessing of God). Envision a country like this. Maybe this is the reason why India is over populated because we do not have proper sex education and we don’t talk about it openly.”
The actress feels that this shouldn’t be the case. “Whenever there’s a condom advertisement, one probably feels awkward and acts innocent. But why? Is practising safe sex a crime? No, right? Then why does this happen,” she asks, clearly referring to our history where ancient texts reveal that sex was considered a mutually pleasurable act and premarital sex was accepted. But today, sex talk, sex education and everything related to the topic have a stigma attached to them.
Sonakshi feels that such subjects, when merged with an element of humour, stays with the audience. “If you ask my opinion, yes, comedy does help a lot in putting across a subject like this. But I don’t believe it is the only way to express the message. There have been films with social messages, which are serious but they were a bit different. This kind of subject needed humour. Also, what are films? They mirror the society, right? So it’s human nature, if you show somebody where they are going wrong, they get defensive but if you do it in a funny manner or joke about it, they always listen. It becomes more palatable. Humour just makes people think without offending them, of course,” explains the Dabangg actress.
She is happy to become a flag-bearer for women by taking up a subject like this. Does she think a male protagonist would have been better for the role? Or if it was a male filmmaker directing her, would she have been as comfortable? “There have been films with male protagonists but I am really happy to take up sex as a subject. It’s important as well as relevant in today’s day and age. It is something that should be discussed and thought about to make a difference in the future. For this particular role, a female protagonist was required,” she says with great zeal and goes on to add, “Honestly once you decide to do a film, if it was this particular theme and even if it was a male director, I would have done it with conviction and I would have stood by my decision. I think, that’s exactly when you throw all your embarrassment out of the window because once you are committed to do something you have to put your heart to it. However, I feel, the kind of sensitivity that Shilpi (Dasgupta) has directed this film with definitely did make me a lot more comfortable. She has done it so beautifully that it’s not even border line cheap or vulgar in any manner. It’s a very well-made, intelligent and funny film. As I said before, it’s always good to express these kind of emotions and thoughts with humour.”
Sonakshi is one such person, who believes that roles and characters that are played on-screen shapes you in real life. “Your roles always teach you. I take away something from most of my roles. It’s like the role is a part of yourself and at the same time, you take something from it. I could easily relate with the character of Baby Bedi. And it’s not only me but every other girl as she is one of those, who somewhere, when she was a child, had a dream of becoming a doctor but due to family responsibilities, she had to let go of that dream. You’ll see how she comes back to following it. I am sure a lot of people will be able to connect with her. I did too, in certain ways,” she says.
What was Sonakshi’s understanding of the role? And how did she prepare for it? She answers in a manner that leaves nothing to doubt. It seems she has a habit of taking everything with ease and that is the reason why she appears so confident be it on-screen or in front of the media. She tells us that her way of preparing was to speak with the director. “There was no research involved as such. I spoke to Shilpi because she had a certain vision for it. She showed me a few videos of some medical representatives — how they talk, how smart and straight they are, what they say to sell a particular product. We did readings with the dialogues. It was very helpful. It gets you into an easier flow,” says she. Just the way in which Sonakshi speaks, I sensed how effortlessly simple she is.
Photo: Pankaj Kumar
Writer: Ayushi Sharma
Courtesy: The Pioneer