After making the #FearvsNeerja campaign a rage, Sonam Kapoor is determined to turn the biopic into a success
THE most demanding role of Sonam Kapoor’s career so far is playing national hero Neerja Bhanot in Ram Madhvani’s Neerja, a biopic of the airhostess who died in the line of duty while protecting her passengers on a hijacked flight in 1986. Extensive research, preparation, workshops and airline training were part of the 30-year-old’s process of getting into Neerja’s character.
What were some of the things you kept in mind while depicting Neerja?
The most important was that she was a normal girl from an ordinary family, like any of us. She had the presence of mind to do the things she did in the middle of a crisis. The Ashok Chakra moment was when she protected three children from gunfire and took the bullets herself. What would it take for a young girl to do that and to make sure those children were safe? She also ensured she hid all the passports thereby protecting the American passengers. The question to answer was: What was in this girl that made her the way she was?
Do you feel the burden of a commercial film riding on your shoulders?
I have been taking these risks since Aisha (2010), followed by Khoobsurat, Dolly Ki Doli, Bewakoofiyan and even Raanjhana where I was more established than Dhanush. Taking the commercial burden is not the actor’s job. At the end of the day, a good film is a good film is a good film. If it’s a good film, it does not matter who you are, unless you are Salman Khan — he’s an exception to the rule, he is God’s child.
Neerja is as much a drama as a mother-daughter relationship story.
Yes and Shabana (Azmi) aunty is amazing. I have grown up in front of her. I am very close to my own mother. She is my warm blanket. I want to see her when I wake up in the morning or when I come home from work in the evening.
How do you choose projects?
I don’t do more than one film a year and I select projects where I would like to work with the team and where the film adds something to my learning. I need to keep evolving as an actress, which includes taking risks.
Neerja is scheduled to release today.
— Udita Jhunjhunwala