In conversation with the stars of Khoobsurat
While Priyanka Chopra promotes an international brand of designer wear, Deepika Padukone entices you with expensive watches, and Kareena Kapoor’s face beams down at you from billboards for a leading Indian jewellery manufacturer, the name that pops up before any other when the words “fashion” and “Bollywood” are spoken together, is Sonam Kapoor.
The Indian actress has become a style icon and a fashion maven since her Bollywood debut and with her forthcoming release, Khoobsurat, she follows in the footsteps of one of Bollywood’s most inimitable and undeniable doyennes of glamour.
The film, directed by Shashanka Ghosh and co-produced by Rhea Kapoor, Anil Kapoor and Siddharth Roy Kapoor, is a remake of the 1980 film of the same name, which featured the yesteryears superstar Rekha in the role of an outspoken young woman who goes to live with a family headed by a dictatorial matriarch.
Did Kapoor draw any inspiration from the original leading lady, who was known to be a style icon, much like Kapoor herself is on her way to becoming?
“People are drawing comparisons, obviously, but I can never be as good as her,” Kapoor says. “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.”
Cast opposite Kapoor is Fawad Khan, the Pakistani actor and singer who became a household name in the country with his acting debut in 2000 in TV series Humsafar. It was his movie debut in 2007 with the immensely successful Pakistani drama Khuda Ke Liye that catapulted Khan to new heights. Khoobsurat marks his long-awaited entry into the Indian film arena.
“This is certainly not the first Bollywood project that was offered to me,” says Khan. “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.”
Sonam Kapoor had already seen Khan’s performance on screen and welcomed the chance to play his leading lady.
“It was amazing working with Fawad,” she says. “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. He is the perfect hero.”
Khan has been overwhelmed by the love he has received across the border, both off and on the set.
“It’s been an absolutely amazing experience. Everyone has been so welcoming and the film’s unit especially, has been just like family,” says Khan. “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.”
“Everyone was happy and positive on set,” adds Kapoor. “In line with the idea of the film, which is to be happy and be positive. This movie shows that life, and movies by extension don’t have to be dreary and dark. They can be colourful and cheerful.”
• Khoobsurat is out on September 18