Q&A: Sonam Kapoor

Bollywood veteran's daughter begins to make her own mark

The daughter of veteran actor Anil Kapoor (“Slumdog Millionaire”, “24”), Sonam Kapoor also has a Hollywood connection like her father with her debut in 2007's “Saawariya” -- the first Indian film produced by a major studio, Sony Pictures. Since then, Kapoor, 25, has gradually carved out her own identity among Bollywood's newcomers with her performances. Featured in The Hollywood Reporter's Next Generation Asia class of 2009, Kapoor delivered a breakthrough hit in this summer's “I Hate Luv Storys.” Her latest release is “Aisha” -- a take on Jane Austen's “Emma” set in upscale New Delhi -- produced by her father's banner with production handled by her sister Rhea. Kapoor spoke with THR's Nyay Bhushan on her Hollywood connections and being part of the family business.

The Hollywood Reporter: Recent reports indicated that you have been getting offers from Hollywood.

Sonam Kapoor: I am getting some offers from Hollywood and I would love to do them but I don't have dates available as I am shooting two Hindi films. I was offered a role in a film being produced by Ben Stiller (“30 Minutes Or Less,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride) after my dad told him about me. So I was sent the script, which I thought was great and really funny. But it’s really a question of allocating my time which I can't do at this stage.

THR: “Aisha” (directed by Rajshree Ojha) is based on Jane Austen's “Emma” so how do you want the world to see an Indian take on a classic?

Kapoor: These days a lot of successful movies seem to be based on books such as the “Twilight” series. In that sense, “Aisha” is really a romantic film at heart that happens to be based on a classic. It’s an Indian chick-flick and the main protaganist is female compared to most films, which are usually male-centric. I mean my previous film “I Hate Luv Storys” was more about how a man feels about love.

THR: “Chick-flick” is not usually a term associated with marketing most Indian films.

Kapoor: Well the truth is that typical Bollywood romantic musicals are really chick-flicks but nobody uses that buzzword to market them. I mean some of the biggest films of all time in India are really about romance and marriage. which therefore have a huge appeal among women. “Aisha” is an ensemble film with young girls and how they go about finding love in an upscale Delhi setting, so that should resonate as a great date movie!

THR: What was the reason to set the film in upscale New Delhi?

Kapoor: India is a very diversified society and the gaps between the various social classes are massive. If you were to set a film in the low classes then you would have something like “Slumdog Millionaire.” But people have aspirations and they also like to see another viewpoint of society, which is what “Aisha” portrays with its backdrop of Delhi's upscale farmhouses and big mansions. We chose to shoot the entire film in authentic locations, including trendy fashion emporios, which should give international audiences a new perspective on how India is changing.

THR: You are also well-known as a fashion icon. so how did “Aisha” give you an opportunity to indulge in your fashion fantasies?

Kapoor: I love dressing up even in my other films but yes, my character in “Aisha” is really into high-end fashion and indulges in luxury brands and designwear. Despite this, we still managed to stay within our budget! The other interesting thing is that we wanted to show a multi-cultural blend as that's what these times are all about. So you have characters wearing not only Western labels such as Dior and Ferragamo, but also top Indian designers such as Anamika Khanna and Manish Arora, among others. This is a good place to be in.

THR: Considering this film was a family affair produced by your father and sister, how different was the experience from other films?

Kapoor: Honestly, not much because while my family members were producers, my main interaction was with the creative team and that experience is similar to any other project. But I do want to say that my sister (Rhea Kapoor) is the most professional producer I've worked with and the whole shoot went very smoothly. We finished the film two days before schedule which pleased my dad!

THR: So what's next?

Kapoor: I am currently shooting “Mausam” (“Season”), the directorial debut of acclaimed veteran actor Pankaj Kapoor (no relation) -- for which we had a shooting schedule in Scotland. At the moment I can't talk much about my role but it will be different from my previous roles which is what I have tried to do with all my films starting with ‘Saawariya.’”
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