Let’s go back to 2010, do you remember the first reactions, phone calls that came when you made your debut with ‘Dabangg’?
Honestly there were so many calls and I didn’t even know what was happening to me or around me at that point of time. There was just so much so soon. Today when somebody wants to act they start their grooming, this class, diction class, workshop, acting class, dance class and they are well prepared. They know to face the cameras, paps all that. So everybody knows what they are doing. I had no idea what I was doing.
One comment from that time which has stayed with you..
Of course my dad I think shed a tear when he saw me onscreen and I think that is the most emotional thing that could happen between a father and a daughter. I think it was a very proud moment for him to see me on screen like that. And of course there were lot of people who were so encouraging. I remember Rani Mukherjee had called up Salman and told him about me that this girl Sonakshi, she is so good in the trailer itself. So I remember small things like that you know.
Did you re-watch the older films to get back to playing Rajjo?
I think Rajjo is now embedded in my system, no matter when they call upon me to play this part I’ll be able to switch on switch off, Rajjo mode.
What is the difference between the Rajjo from ‘Dabangg’ and ‘Dabangg 3’?
I think as the story progresses all the characters have kind of moved with the films whether it was one, whether it was two, now it is three, we are going to a prequel, how Chulbul became Chulbul Pandey. So it is interesting in that way to change the story but because the characters that are being taken forward you cannot change much of them. So Rajjo is Rajjo. She is the strong backbone of Chulbul Pandey who supports him no matter what, tells him where he is going wrong, stands up to him, takes care of him and his family. And I love the fact that you know within this movie they have shown a very beautiful portrayal of a romance between a husband and a wife. Usually we don’t get to see that. We always see the pre-wife thing. So I love the fact that it is a beautiful romance between a husband and a wife.
What has been your takeaway from working with Salman, as a mentor what has he taught you?
I think he is just so important in terms of like he’s the one who showed me what I’m supposed to be doing. I never wanted to act. He is the one who encouraged me. And he told me ‘what are you doing? , you should be acting, lose weight and start acting’. Frankly I never saw it in me. I never had the inclination. I never wanted to act. He is the one who showed me the way. So in that aspect like he is so important that he knows that a lot of people, he has helped a lot of people. So for me it was like I was always looking for his approval right. You never want to disappoint the person who has given you your first break, your first film and I think that is in itself makes you want to do better. He has been in the industry for 25 years and has the same zest for his work, for what he does, he only wants to keep bettering himself. I don’t think Salman Khan has any other competition except for himself.
Does Salman prank you on set or is he a very serious as a co-star?
I think with Salman, there is now such an ease and comfort of working with him so it is like you just go on set and do your shot and then get out of there. But I remember there have been so many times where his back is facing the camera and he is making faces and I am trying to do my scene and you know it is hysterical. So it is just lovely working with him.
Did you hand hold Saiee, given the fact that she’s making her debut with ‘Dabangg 3’?
She is really talented and you know she is a lovely girl and I keep saying that. For me ‘Dabang’ was the best launch that I could ever dream of and I hope that it’s the same for her. So she didn’t really need much hand holding at all. In fact, yesterday we were doing interviews, it was her first time as well and she came to me and she is like can you give me some tips. So I said you don’t need tips you can give me tips. So I mean really, no. She knows what she is doing and she is really lovely.
Would you have done a ‘Kabir Singh’ if it was offered to you? I am asking you this as you are very particular about the roles you choose…
I won’t do anything that I don’t resonate with or I don’t feel strongly about. If I feel that when a narration is happening if I can shut my eyes and imagine playing that part or saying those lines or doing what the person is doing, that is the only time I will go ahead and sign the film. I have to believe in it otherwise I won’t be able to play it. Like you said I believe in giving my 100 per cent no matter what role I am playing, no matter how big, no matter how small.
At the top of your mind do you remember any narration where you were asked to do something silly, that you didn’t relate to ..
Yeah! Unfortunately I think I have done something which I am not very proud of. I am not going to take names because of course there are other people involved and there is no point having any bad blood, but again it was a learning experience. There were a lot of reasons at that point in time that you do say yes. In fact I remember I even tried to get out of it but I was pressured into doing it. So there are a lot of reasons why you end up doing a film. So it is okay, you live, you learn.
Do you track box office numbers, are you aware of the buzz on your film post release?
You know the funny part is I was never excited about box office numbers. Because that is something that is not in my control. But what I need to do is focus on my job. I don’t understand numbers anyway. I don’t know how we got to that number, why we didn’t make a certain number. Mujhe samjha hi nahi aata, mera kaam hai acting karna (I don’t understand these things, my job is to only act). So for me it has never been a concern. I just want to do my job and get out.
You are also very active on social media, what has been your one lesson using it?
That you cannot take it seriously. For me it is just like a medium of sharing the things that I want to share with people who like me and follow me and who like my work. It is a direct contact between me and them. That is how I take it. Otherwise all this trolling and comments and this and that sometimes I don’t even go through them because I feel they are so pointless. So yeah I think it is just something that you cannot take too seriously. You should do it if you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it then there is no point doing anything.