With a strong background in theater – Sanah Kapur who made her debut with Shaandar in 2015 had a strong resonance with delivering bigger and better on the celluloid. While the critically acclaimed film Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi saw her playing the younger version of her mother and a strong performer – Supriya Pathak, her upcoming film Saroj Ka Rishta will see the mother-daughter duo essay their real-life relationship on the big screen. A film that sheds light on eradicating the stereotypical notions surrounding the weight of a person has garnered extremely rewarding reviews from the spectators. In an exclusive conversation with Filmfare, she chats about her easy-breezy camaraderie with her half-brother Shahid Kapur, life post-marriage to assistant director Mayank Pahwa who she’s known since her childhood, and how she embraces life from an uncensored point of view where positivity blooms! Excerpts….
How would you define your relationship with your mother Supriya Pathak?
My mom is my best friend. She brought me up with such a lot of freedom, a lot of support, and a lot of understanding. And she always made me feel like I could talk to her about anything. We hadn’t worked together and this film gave us a chance to perform together. My mom’s an amazing actress and luckily there was only a tiny portion where she’s there, so uh it wasn’t like I had to do the whole project with her, but that scene was nerve-wracking but a lot of fun,
Coming from a family of actors – what is your dinner table conversation like?
A lot of our dinner time conversations are to see what you want to have for breakfast the next day. I think if you know a Punjabi household, or at least my Punjabi household, the conversations are a lot about food, we love food and we’re always discussing the next meal while we’re waiting for the meal that we’re eating. We don’t really talk about work as such on the dinner table, of course, if something is interesting that happens at work or if there’s something one wants to discuss we can and we do, or like an interesting film, one saw or a book one read.
How is your relationship with Shahid Kapoor?
I mean we just talk about general life, like catching up with each other about what’s going on, but we don’t talk about work at all. Half the time, I don’t even know the projects they are doing, they don’t know the projects I am doing, it’s very vague.
Brave of you to do a film on body shaming – what made you say yes?
It’s an old school Bollywood romantic comedy and that was what really pulled me to the project. I grew up on that kind of cinema. The script was exciting because it was saying the same stuff which is a love story but in a very fresh way. I never really thought of it as a body-shaming film, but I liked the fact that it had something to say which was that you should be happy with who you are, and if somebody loves you, they should be able to accept you for who you are. And not change you, or you shouldn’t have to change who you are for a person.
Actors have a certain perspective when it comes to having a body type, but you hold your own – do you worry about peer pressure making you cave in professionally?
I’ve worried about it in the sense that I’m aware of the fact that at times certain things don’t come my way because there is a certain stereotyping, there is a certain way the industry looks. Personally, I don’t like that. I feel like I am an actor, my job is to change for each role, so tomorrow if a role came that had a requirement of a certain type, I would fulfill that requirement. I believe that in this industry, you’re here because you love what you do. You know, otherwise, no one’s getting into this mess because it’s a mess. So you got to love the mess, and I love the mess. So whatever comes good, or bad with it, I kind of learn how to love that also.
Since your upcoming film highlights the perils of body shaming- did you face any such incident in your personal life?
Honestly, I’ve been very fortunate, but I’ve also been surprised about where people around me, even in school and college where let’s be honest kids can be mean. I met this girl, very recently actually, she’s in like ninth grade or something, and she told me that after she watched Shaandaar she was like eve teased in school, and her friends were mean to her. Like they tripped her and she fell and got a fracture and stuff. So I was like, this is a bad level of bullying happening and only for body shaming her because she was not perfect in whatever terms society considers perfect. And she told me that watching my character in Shaandaar gave her that confidence to stand up to them and to find out who her real friends were and just to be a confident girl, and that, that for me was more than I think any amount of money or game or success can give me. I feel like there might be other people out there that have the same way. And if films can make them feel connected, can make them feel like they are, there is someone else out there that is going through the same thing or you are perfect the way you are, or you, things will get better or whatever, I think that’s worth it.
How’s the understanding between your husband Mayank and you, you’ve been childhood friends, is there a certain comfort?
We’re not childhood friends, he’s a little, he was my younger brother’s best friend and I was best friends with his older sister. So we just, and obviously our families have known each other, but we never really interacted. We started interacting very late, but I think because we came from similar upbringing, similar understanding and then you know, it just happened. And yes, it helps, I feel if you know each other and you’ve had that journey of being, I love the fact that I’m friends with him because we can sit and talk all night, you know. Every single day, about every single thing and that’s a good feeling.
Which are your favorite films of your parents and then Naseer Sir, considering they are such stalwarts?
So I haven’t watched a lot of my parent’s films because I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but every time they’re doing a film, they’re playing a character that’s either sad or dies or goes through a lot of torture. And I know that as an artiste, I’m supposed to be able to disconnect and be like hey, this is a performance, I know because I’m also performing but I think as a kid I can’t. I just feel too much, and then I don’t want to watch my parents suffer that way, even if it’s in a film. I think that almost all of their work is amazing, like dad’s films, I can, Ek Doctor Ki Maut, Matru, Maqbool, Blue Umbrella…Even mom’s… I’ve done a little bit of comedy recently and I’ve realised it’s very , very difficult as a genre. So when I see a Khichdi, I can see the amount of work and effort, and amazingness that goes into that. And then to see the difference between that and a Ram-Leela, or a Tabbar, you know to just see the vast variety that these people have been able to provide in performances, it’s just so inspirational. And so is the case with Naseer Uncle, like watching his performances, you can see him doing all kinds of variety of work. You can’t really, you know lock it down and then you also see him do theatre, where he’s just like owning the entire stage. It’s a lot of like, you get to watch and it’s a lot to look up to and aspire to be.
How did it feel like playing the younger version of your mother in such a critically acclaimed film as Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi?
So the director of the film was Seema aunty, who now is my mother-in-law, um, so it was, it was really comfortable, because she made me comfortable while doing the project, and I wasn’t performing with mom. There was nothing we did together in that. And it was a lot of fun. I had a couple of discussions with mom, and we came up with certain things that we wanted to like, try and incorporate to make it look like it’s the same person. I don’t know how much of it came through, but we tried it and it was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to doing a project, where I get to play a younger her, rather than just a couple of snippets but it was great fun. I loved it.
Have you been into theater as well since your family has a background in it?
Yes, so I did a course and the majority of it was in theatre. And then I also came back and I did theater with a couple of theater groups, I did workshops and stuff, so before I did Shaandaar and even after I did Shaandaar, I was indulging in theater groups here and there. It’s always fun to go back to the stage. I grew up on sets because my parents were making shows when I was very young. The first time I was in front of the camera, I was three or four years old. So when I’m in front of the camera, I feel like I’m at home. That’s where I’m the happiest, it’s my happy place. Um, and theatre, it’s something that, it’s amazing, it’s great fun as a performer, but it’s something that I’ve grown to love, versus film, or camera which I’ve just been born loving, it’s in my blood.