If there’s one star making serious waves in Indian cinema right now, it’s the inimitable Sonakshi Sinha. The fashion graduate grew up around household Bollywood names who were friends of her parents, actor turned politician Shatrughan Sinha and actress and former model Poonam.
With her mother’s stunning looks and her dad’s acting prowess, Sonakshi was always destined for big screen stardom. But far from playing a demure wallflower, she’s made her mark in action-dramas with considerable success; her performances have garnered two prestigious Filmfare awards and an IIFA – not bad for someone who started out in the costume department. In eight short years, Sonakshi has carved out the sort of career others spend entire lifetimes hoping to achieve.
2018 will see her return in Dabangg 3; she made her debut in the original, which became the highest grossing Bollywood film of 2010. We caught up with the golden girl on the shores of Doha, Qatar on where she’s been and where she’s headed.
What was it like growing up as part of an acting dynasty?
Completely different to what you’d expect – we were so normal! My parents made it a point to keep us away from the showbiz circus. My dad was just… my dad. Now that I’m older, I understand how important it is to have a normal childhood because all that attention can go to your head. Who wants kids with adult-sized egos?
Who was your favourite Bollywood star growing up?
I wasn’t into the whole Bollywood thing; I was more interested in sports. It wasn’t until the 7th grade when Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai was released starring Hrithik Roshan, that I, along with the rest of the country, went ballistic.
What was it like meeting Hrithik?
Dad took me to an awards ceremony when I was a teen and Hrithik was there. I fangirled before fangirling was even a thing! After he shook my hand, I refused to wash it for the next three days.
What was it like working with Salman Khan on your debut movie Dabangg?
Luckily, I wasn’t star struck at all because he’s been a friend of the family for so long. I was overweight in college and Salman was the only one who’d say “lose weight, leave fashion designing and become an actress.” I was like, are you blind? Look at me! But he had faith in me when I didn't. Starting my career with him by my side has helped me forge a path in the right direction.
He must have seen your potential
I suppose he had the foresight to see something that I couldn’t see myself at that stage. He was one of my biggest supporters when I began losing weight. As soon as I was slim, I did the film.
Did you jump on your big break?
Well I’d finished my fashion course at college so I thought, why not? Let’s give this a shot! It was an amazing adventure. I took a chance and it paid off.
What do you look for in a script?
I’ll know instantly if it’s a part I want. It’s all about gut instinct. Do you prefer making socially conscious films or female-focused productions?
I like a good balance. I can be a heroine for big budget movies as well as niche films. I don’t believe in narrowing my horizons. I’m a Gemini, so it takes a lot to hold my attention. I have to keep switching it up to keep things exciting.
What have you learned from working with legends like Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan?
I’m fortunate that early in my career I was able to make movies with such revered actors. Each has imparted to me a pearl of wisdom which has proved priceless.
Staying sane when you’re in the Bollywood bubble means you can’t, and shouldn’t, take anything seriously - even yourself. That’s my biggest lesson.
Tell us about your new film Happy Phir Bhag Jayegi
[Director] Mudassar Aziz approached me with the initial film, Happy Bhag Jayegi, but I was busy working on Akira. However, I loved the script so when he came back with the sequel, of course I said yes! Shooting it is a real joy. It’s great to work with such an awesome cast.
Do you ever think about your life had you stuck with fashion?
Perhaps I’d be a stylist now or work on a luxury magazine like Khush Wedding? My education hasn’t gone to waste, I use my fashion training all the time. Like, if I have a fashion emergency on set, I can pick up a needle and thread and stitch it up myself. Crisis over.
As someone who speaks her mind, are you worried about your tongue getting you in trouble?
The good thing about social media is you can always count on someone to say something even more ridiculous. I liked tweeting because it was my personal opinion, but everybody has an opinion on your opinion. That gets old, fast.
Now I prefer Instagram, where I can communicate through images. Describe your personal style I grew up playing sports, so athleisure is my comfort zone. I like to move about freely, unrestricted. I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy as the sister to two brothers.
What was it like growing up as the little sister to identical twins?
Trouble! When I was young I couldn’t tell the difference between them. One would whack me and run away, but I wouldn’t know who had done it, so I never knew who to complain about!
Are you equally close to both of them?
They have such different personalities. I’m closer to Kush than Luv. What do you admire most about the film fraternity?
Their ability to bounce back from whatever life throws at them. It’s not easy living in the public eye.
How’s your love life - wedding bells any time soon?
Find me a man first!
That sounds like a challenge! Tell us, who's your dream man?
We should have a great connection. I also need someone who gets my weirdness. He should be funny, a gentleman and a bit of a challenge - I like that. Oh, and tall!
Would you marry another actor?
I’d prefer someone that offers a different perspective on life, someone who can give me fresh experiences.
If you had a destination wedding where would it be?
The most inaccessible place in the world. It would be a nice, quiet celebration with my closest friends and family - no more than 20 people.
Would your parents agree to that?
Of course not, but I’d tell them it’s my day, so we’ll do it my way! When my brother got married it felt like the entire world was invited. That’s the last thing I’d want on my Big Day.
You’re an inspiration to millions thanks to your weight loss. Any tips?
If I can do it, anyone can do it. I say this as a foodie who hates exercise, so I know it’s true. Consistency is key, don’t go full throttle because you’ll just burn out. It took me two and a half years to lose 30 kilos, it didn’t happen overnight. Slow and steady is the only way. Don’t bother with fad diets. Ghar ka khanna (home cooked food) is all you need.
Is weight loss hard to maintain?
It’s difficult, but not unachievable. The way I see it, if you’ve gotten this far and lost the weight, what’s the point of going back to square one? You’ve worked too hard to get to where you are to give it all up.
What are you most excited about in life right now?
So much! Where do I start? Da-bangg Tour is coming up; we’re taking it to so many cities around India. London was our best show - so much energy – and now we’re taking it to the US! The response has been beyond wonderful. Besides that, shooting for Dabangg 3 starts this year. Every interview in the lately has included a question about Dabangg 3. There was a lot of speculation on if I would be in it so I’m happy to put those questions to rest.
Editor-in-Chief: Sonia Ullah
Creative Director: Manni Sahota
Fashion Editor: Vikas Rattu
Guest Stylist: Mohit Rai
Photography: Arjun Mark
Makeup: Ganga Makeup
Hair: Madhuri Nakhale
As seen in Khush Wedding Spring 2018 KW18. Buy this issue here