Sonakshi Sinha: I am a working girl; I too have my own struggles, insecurities like Noor
Sonakshi Sinha talks about her character in Noor, her love for Karachi, You're Killing me! and her upcoming project with Sidharth Malhotra.
Sonakshi Sinha is in a happy space. On the one hand, the actress, who is extremely passionate about singing and dancing, is judging a dance reality show, and on the other, she is all set to hit the screens in her latest avatar ‘Noor’ in Sunhil Sippy's movie of the same name. She is also part of her mentor and superstar Salman Khan's upcoming Da-bang tour and live concert (Australia and New Zealand).
Noor is based on Saba Imtiaz’s novel, Karachi, You're Killing Me!, and tells the tale of journalist-writer Noor's misadventures and love life as she navigates her way through Mumbai. The film is said to have been Indianised to a great extent; the setting of the movie has been changed from Karachi to Mumbai. While Karachi, You're Killing Me! chronicles the life of Ayesha Khan, a 20-something journalist who drinks and smokes, putting her modern attitude in contrast to Karachi's more traditional atmosphere, Noor is about a Mumbai-based journalist in her twenties struggling in the maximum city.
Sonakshi, who has read the book and was the first choice for the film, says, “The spirit of the book is the same, but because of the change in location from Karachi to Mumbai, there are a few necessary changes in plot points. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. It engrosses you; you are completely enamoured by the characters that are in the book. When the film came to me, it was already ready; the makers had already adapted it to Mumbai. They had put the main protagonist Noor in that scenario, situation and lifestyle while she lives in Mumbai. They had adapted it so beautifully and seamlessly that I didn't even feel that it should have been like the book. I really enjoyed the narration throughout. One page into the narration, I knew that I wanted to play this character. At its heart, the book is about a single woman living a complicated life in a cosmopolitan city.”
Sonakshi continues, “Adapting this book to an Indian context is not very difficult. It is quite relatable. The book is set in a massive city, and the problems that people face in such cities are essentially the same. Having to work in a competitive office and working in a big city, which comes with its own set of problems such as money, transport, buying alcohol, relationship issues, friendship — all these things are a large part of the middle-class urban experience. You’ll face similar problems anywhere in the world.”
Just like Ayesha’s character in the book, Sonakshi, too, is a journalist with the gift of finding herself in absurd, often implausible situations, and has a boss that every newsroom dreads. From interviewing couture cupcake designers, to reporting on gang wars, to fashion shows, Ayesha’s brief is to cover almost everything that happens in Karachi for a measly, and usually much-delayed, salary. Similarly, in Noor, Sonakshi, who is introduced as the “joker journalist” in the two-and-a-half minute trailer, wants to cover serious issues like train accidents, but is forced to go for a Sunny Leone interview. Like Ayesha, Noor’s adventures, or rather misadventures, are both scary yet laugh-worthy. A cross between Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and Moni Mohsin’s The Diary of a Social Butterfly, Saba Imtiaz’s comedy of manners is set in a society where the prospect of romance seems remote, and Noor's director, Sunhil Sippy, confirms that he too, has touched upon her complex relationships and issues related to love and friendships in a similar manner.
Talking about her character, Sonakshi says, “Noor is quite clumsy. She is stuck in a job. She wants to report for a certain beat but her boss doesn’t let her. He makes her do frivolous assignments, whereas she wants to do serious journalism. But she is a university topper; she is talented, well-educated, she knows that she can achieve big things in life but her boss doesn’t give her the opportunity. As a result she is irritated with everything around her. She messes up things, which is why she is a 'joker journalist'.” She further says, “Noor doesn’t want to cover entertainment. She is more interested in talking about the salaries of Dalit sewage workers and deaths on train tracks. She wants to write about the city she loves, something that makes a difference to the society. Mumbai also plays a character in the film, like her; she loves her city and wants to bring about a change in the society.”
Not many know that Sunhil Sippy, an ad filmmaker, who is making a comeback to direction after 16 years (his directorial debut Snip! released in 2000), had directed Sonakshi in her first ever ad film immediately after her debut film Dabangg. “The very first ad I did after Dabangg was directed by Sunhil. At that time I felt that he had great aesthetic sense and I wanted to work with him again, but it did not happen soon. When I learnt that Sunhil was directing Noor, I was like, ‘Let’s hear the film’ and I was on board immediately.” Sonakshi adds, “Sunhil definitely has a different approach towards filmmaking, particularly since he is used to narrating the entire story in 30 to 40 second capsule. Also, he wanted the film to look as real as possible. I have worked with directors who would want to make situations a bit filmy, add elements here and there, to make it more commercial and saleable, but Sunhil doesn’t work like that. He wants to talk about the girl who could be living right next to you; she could be your friend, she could be anybody. He also gave us lot of scope and freedom to improvise, but I am a director’s actor. I like to speak to my director, understand what vision he has for the character which he wants me to portray."
She further says, “Everybody has their own personality intact in the film, whether it is Noor, or Zara Patel (Shibani Dandekar) or Saad Sehgal (Kanan Gill) or Ayan Banerjee (Purab Kohli)... they all have certain bits of their own personality in the film.” So what part of Sonakshi’s personality can be found in her character Noor? “Like any young modern girl, I am also somebody who is trying to achieve everything in life. In real life, I am also a working girl; I also have my own struggles and insecurities, my own goals that I have set for myself. I am chasing them just like Noor. As modern-day girls, we want everything in life and that is one big similarity which every girl will relate to,” says Sonakshi, who was instrumental in bringing Kanan Gill, an established stand-up comedian, on board. “I wanted Kanan to be part of the film because when I was reading the script, I imagined somebody like him. I am very familiar with his work. With his humour, he made the atmosphere on the sets light and happy.”
While Sonakshi Sinha is working on bagging two more projects, she has almost completed filming Ittefaq opposite Sidharth Malhotra, which is the remake of 1969 suspense film of the same name directed by B R Chopra. “I haven’t seen the original and I prefer not to watch it. For me, it is an entirely new experience. We are presenting a completely new film for the younger generation. People from my generation have not seen the original. The film has been adapted to 2017. It is a good script for me, as it makes me portray the character in two different ways; there are two perspectives to its story. It is the quickest film I have ever done," says Sonakshi.
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