'Just because you fall in love with someone who might not belong to the opposite sex does not mean you are different.'
'Love is always Love.'
'You cannot choose which person you will fall in love with.'
Sonam Kapoor takes on a different kind of film in Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga.
Besides sharing the screen with her father Anil Kapoor for the first time, Sonam hints at a same sex relationship in the film.
The actress discusses the film, but makes sure to talk about Rajkumar Hirani, who was co-producing the film until he was embroiled in #MeToo allegations.
"I always want to believe a woman, but suppose that is not true, how bad would it be for the movement, especially if it is somebody like Raju Hirani? We need to be careful about the people we accuse and the people whose side we take," Sonam tells Rediff.com Contributor Ramesh S, indicating the side she has chosen.
The film seems to suggest same sex love. How sensitively did you approach your role?
There are a lot of stereotypes in this world, and people's minds often become judgmental towards those who belong to this community (the LGBT community).
So I thought I should project my role as authentically as possible.
Just because you fall in love with someone who might not belong to the opposite sex does not mean you are different.
Love is always Love.
You cannot choose which person you will fall in love with.
Anand (Ahuja) told me once that we didn't choose each other, destiny chose us.
I know it's very foolish and romantic to say this that you are always destined to be a certain way and always destined to love a certain way.
It's never your own choice.
So when something is not in your control, how can you judge or blame somebody for that?
We are always conformed to think in a certain way. For instance, career choices. I am sure most of your parents have told you not to go in the media industry because of various reasons, like no stable income, no security for women...
But this is your call. This is what you want to do because you enjoy it.
Likewise, it is the same thing if you are getting married to a person belonging to a different religion or having a sexual partner with someone not from the opposite sex, or deciding to change your gender.
It's never your own choice because it's something that you are and you just can't help it.
If parents and society are conformed to think that you should be in a certain way, it is very cruel.
If my calling is to save people's lives, I will become a doctor or a policewoman.
But if my calling is to be an artist, I will become one, and this doesn't make me different from other people.
That is what this film is trying to project.
It's about not being boxed into a certain category, with a label attached to it.
Once we start labeling things and situations, it becomes an issue.
Being gay is a non-issue because it is absolutely natural.
Each and every person is unique in their own way, and has the right and choice to be like who they want to be.
Career choices are still a debatable topic, but having a relationship with a same sex person is still considered like a disease in our country. What's your take on that?
Absolutely! Fifteen years ago, you would have been ostracised from the community if you wanted a divorce.
But if you see and hear it enough, it doesn't become a taboo.
Everything takes time.
There were predictions that my film Veere Di Wedding would have a Rs 4 crore opening. We thought it might be true because Kareena's Ki & Ka and my film Neerja opened with approximately the same collections.
But Veere Di Wedding opened with Rs 11 crore. Actually, we aren't understanding that the audience is way more intelligent and receptive than we think they are.
The people of India are not as regressive as we think they are.
So many of my friends have come to me and said their parents did not react when got to know about their same sex relationships. Instead, they were happy because their child was happy.
If your parents or friends truly love you, there will be an understanding eventually.
Bollywood doesn't have too many same sex kind of films. Why do you think?
Yes, because stereotypes are so common in India.
For instance, the heroine should be presented like a diva in our films, the fashion model looks completely drugged out, media people are always telling lies, actresses must be constantly sleeping with other men...
My endeavour is to do films to break those stereotypes.
We don't understand the power of films, the media and how people think about different things.
When I was younger, I said I wanted to change the world, change India and possibly join politics.
Although I am not going to join, at that time, my nana (maternal grandfather) advised me not to join because politics is a bad world.
We have portrayed politics in a bad taste because people there are corrupt. But such stereotypes should not be there.
Do you feel films, somewhere, is the reason for such stereotypes?
Not only films but also books, the media, the people...
You have to be responsible about what you write, you have to be responsible about what films you do, you have to be responsible what books you give your children to read or what television shows they watch.
One also has the mindset that after marriage, my mother-in-law will be an evil person. But this pre-conceived notion is not true; I have realised most people are good.
Two of my closest friends are journalists, and they know things about me that nobody knows and it has never come out in public.
If you showcase something which is true and real, hopefully one day, people will feel it is okay if my son or daughter is gay.
Gazal Dhaliwal, a transwoman, is the writer of this film. She co-wrote Lipstick Under My Burkha.
Some of the most powerful people in the fashion and film industry are gay.
There is nothing but pride in what they do.
How was your experience working with your father in Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga?
I was very nervous in the beginning because obviously he is my father.
His famous song Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga has been recreated in your film. How does that feel?
My father told me something very funny.
He said he signed 1942: A Love Story because of its music, but when he eventually saw the film, he realised everything was picturised on Manisha Koirala!
So he said this film is like God is giving back to him because all the songs are now picturised on me (laughs).
Rajkumar Hirani has been accused of sexual harassment. What is your take on that and the #MeToo movement?
I am a huge supporter of the #MeToo movement and this is a very important question.
Firstly, this is not the right platform because our film is as important as or probably more important than the movement.
Secondly, I know Raju Hirani very well. I have known him for many years and have huge respect for him as a film-maker and as a man.
I think we should reserve judgment and be very responsible before we say anything more on this subject because we don't need to derail this movement.
As the media, one doesn't understand the importance of their writing and voices.
It can make and break a person's life.
So wait, do proper research, and understand what is actually happening before passing judgments.
Until things are clear up, do not make click-bait articles and play with somebody's life.
I always want to believe a woman, but suppose that is not true, how bad would it be for the movement, especially if it is somebody like Raju Hirani?
With Tanushree Dutta, there was a lot of truth in the articles, there was a lot of research done, and a lot of people came forward. So you understand where that is coming from.
But here, I think we need to reserve judgment because this film is important and it should not become about that.
We need to be careful about the people we accuse and the people whose side we take.
I don't believe in sitting on the fence and so, I will take my side when I have to.
There are reports that you have been signed for the next installment of the Munnabhai series. Is it true?
Yes, unless I am playing Munnibehen in the film (laughs).
I have decided to do one film a year and that too, playing lead roles in them.
Does that mean your choice of films will be different or are you open to masala movies too?
I did Raanjhanaa in 2013, so it has been quite a long time now.
So, why not?
But as I said, I should play the lead in it; I just can't be heroine material now.
Is there a Veere Di Wedding 2?
I don't know. But I am dying to do it if it is happening. Nobody is more entertaining than Swara Bhaskar and Kareena Kapoor!
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