'I want to be that actress who does everything. I want to be that actress who does Lootera as well as Dabangg.'
Sonakshi Sinha reprises her role of Rajjo from her debut movie Dabangg in its third installment.
"I have always been a director's actor. So whether it's a first-time director or Prabhu Deva, I always listen to them," Sonakshi tells Diva Solgama.
There have been hits and misses for you this year. How do you look back at 2019?
It has been a big year for me with four releases. Dabangg 3 is my fourth film of 2019. I have no complaints because it's very important to have successes and failures in life.
I don't see a failure in my film because my work has been appreciated. As an actor, my job is well done. So honestly, I don't count it as a failure at all.
You made your debut with Dabangg nine years ago, in 2010. Was the dynamics different for you with Dabangg 3?
You learn so much over the years. I have done a lot of work. I have grown as an actor and as a person as well.
But the dynamics will change when a senior actor like Salman Khan is in front of you or Prabhu (Deva) sir is directing a movie.
I have always been a director's actor. So whether it's a first-time director or Prabhu Deva, I always listen to them.
If I feel I need to give some input or contribute to what I am doing, then I discuss it with my director. If things work out, then my inputs get used. Else, I do what my director wants me to do.
In Dabangg 3, I felt like the most junior person. Every film for me is like my first film and I have to give my best in everything.
As a character, how has Rajjo evolved from Dabangg to Dabangg 3?
I don't see my character changing much. In a franchise, one makes a change in the story like how things are going forward, giving audiences a fresh storyline.
Rajjo will always be the same. She is outspoken and Chulbul Pandey's loving wife.
All three films in the Dabangg series have been directed by different directors (Abhinav Kashyap, Arbaaz Khan, Prabhu Deva). Do you find any changes in the tone of the film or how your character has been perceived by them?
Every director has his own way of perceiving a character and also the film. I love the fact that it's all balanced in the Dabangg franchise because even a bit of imbalance will show in the film.
Abhinav Kashyap started the franchise and set a particular tone, then Arbaaz carried it forward really well without going away from the zone of the film.
Now with Prabhu Deva sir, it's actually his zone. It's a film best suited to his brand of film-making -- a perfect entertainer with high octane action masala.
All three directors have done great justice to the tone of Dabangg.
Saiee Manjrekar is making her debut with Dabangg 3. What advice did you give her?
Salman gave me the most genuine advice even before I started acting. I didn't know whether to have an acting career or not. He was the one who told me that I should act, which is why I did Dabangg. Most of the advice came from him, from then till now.
Even though I come from a film family, I never really enjoyed going to film sets and never grew up watching movies. I was always into sport.
So for me to act in films was an altogether new feeling.
Right now, everyone is well prepared after doing workshops, taking acting classes, and so on.
Saiee is an exceptionally talented girl, which is why she is in the film. And that is what going to take her further in her career. We are very protective towards her and I am sure she will do very well.
Does acting get easier when you are being directed by someone like Prabhu Deva who is also an actor?
Dabangg 3 is my fourth film with him. I can only say Prabhu sir makes an actor's life very simple.
He has vision on how he wants to project his actors on the screen. At times, he will enact the scene and show it to you, so you just have to do what he is doing. He is a wonderful director and it is truly a pleasure working with him.
Among all your films, which role has been the most relatable? Also, which has been the most challenging role in your career?
The most relatable character I have played is Noor (from the film Noor). She is as close to any of us today. she is a modern-day working girl.
The most challenging one would have to be Akira (from the film Akira) because I had to learn martial arts to portray my character.
Those months of training were quite challenging for me to have that body language and do action sequences in the film. To learn a new skill and then project it on screen is definitely challenging.
Noor, Akira, Lootera, Khandaani Shafakhana... do you think your choices of films are ahead of its time?
Very true. At times, I feel I am running ahead of time (laughs). For me, it's very instinctive. During narration (when the film-maker relates the film's storyline) I shut my eyes and picture myself as that character. Then I say yes to the film and don't think about it too much.
I am very instinctive when it comes to choosing a film.
I want to be that actress who does everything. I want to be that actress who does Lootera as well as Dabangg. Which is why I have done varied characters in different films.
I like to choose characters different from my previous roles. My characters in all four films that released this year are drastically different from each other. I am loving it and hope to continue in this way.
Should we call you a female Akshay Kumar?
If one considers the amount of work that I am doing, then yes I can be called a female Akshay Kumar.
Also, I have a lot of qualities like him. I am very much punctual, have four releases this year, work around the clock, and so on, so you could say that (laughs)!
Having worked with him at a very early stage in my career and watching a person like him, I have learned a lot from Akshay Kumar.
I have really taken his style of working for sure.
Khandaani Shafakhana didn't do well at the box office. What was the satisfying feedback you received for the film?
It was one of the closest characters to my heart. It was really a very refreshing film for me, where I worked with a female director for the first time in my career.
I received a lot of good feedback from Akshay, Ayushmann (Khurrana) and so on.
I specifically called Ayushmann for my screening because I was stepping into his territory. He loved the film and appreciated my work. It felt really good when you receive such feedback from people working so well in the industry.
It felt disheartening when the film didn't worked at the box-office. That just shows audiences are probably not open to see a female protagonist as much as they are with a male protagonist.
I hope to change that and will continue to do such films.
Actresses like Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone are becoming producers, producing stories they believe in with films like The Sky is Pink and Chhapaak. Are you open to choose a similar path?
Why not! The films I have done so far I have truly believed in. If a story comes to me and I think it needs to reach the masses, then I will surely produce it if I am capable enough to do it.
How did you stay so grounded?
I guess it all comes with your upbringing, and so the credit goes to my parents.
My parents always wanted me to be grounded.
Divya Solgama loves masala entertainers as well as hard-core realistic films. Divya can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org