I can’t believe Sonam is getting married. When I first saw her, she was little more than a child on the sets of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Black”, bustling around trying to make herself useful.
Dressed in a suitably… umm… black Salwar-Kameez, she was every inch the functional assistant on the set. Clearly, she was enjoying the part, though an edge of nervous anxiety was evident.
Shouting across the room to ask a slightly noisy junior artiste to calm down or running across to give the director his tea, Sonam Kapoor was touchingly eager to make herself useful.
During breaks, she would run to the film’s leading lady Rani for some girlie gossip. Rani was Sonam’s father Anil Kapoor’s heroine and though there was some gossip about them I saw no awkwardness between the two girls as they shared breaktime chana and tea.
The second time I met Sonam, she was Bhansali’s heroine. At Taj Lands, where I met Ranbir, Sonam and Bhansali, she was warm but not excessively so. She was vibrant and childlike. At dinner, Ranbir was given the chore of ordering food. He ordered enough for a famished battalion at the war front. Lots of wastage. Sonam preferred to just chat and be nice to the children there. When it comes to being friendly and reaching out, she remains naturally gregarious, like her father (and unlike her brother, Harshvardhan).
A day before the premiere of “Saawariya” we met at a Chinese restaurant in Mumbai, and unlike her co-star Ranbir Kapoor, she kept her professional relationship with me going over the years.
Doing “Saawariya” was not easy for Sonam. She had to work hard to get her lines and scenes right. She would try to master a few steps for a song for hours. Ranbir had got them right in the first take. But for Sonam it was a struggle. She was close to tears. We sat watching in misery. Adding to my woes was the fact that Sonam’s sister Rhea insisted on calling me “Uncle”.
Eventually, there came a point in the shooting when Sanjay was ready to shut down the film. His sister Bela had to intervene. I did my bit too.
But when “Saawariya” released, Sonam was compared with the legendary Waheeda Rehman.
More than any predecessor, I think Sonam is her own person. Self-willed and extremely conscious of her image as a fashionista, she doesn’t take her life in the movies to be her raison d’etre. But over the years she has learnt to take her acting career seriously.
“Neerja” was the turning point in Sonam’s career. “Veere Di Wedding”, which comes just after Sonam di Wedding (next week), would amplify her keen desire to remain an active actress after marriage. Nothing will change for Sonam after marriage. She will continue to be the fashion queen, albeit one whose husband will be cheering for her as she walks the ramp in every fashion pageant held in Paris and Pathankot.
(Subhash K. Jha can be contacted at [email protected])