Bollywood: 'Dahaad' star Sonakshi Sinha opens up about her OTT reinvention

Basking in the glory of the acclaim her web series has received, the actress talks about what attracted her to the role

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By Yasser Usman

Published: Thu 1 Jun 2023, 8:29 PM

Fresh from the success of her OTT debut, Dahaad, an excellent thriller that effectively explores caste and gender equations in rural Rajasthan, actress Sonakshi Sinha talks about her role and her journey in a conversation with wknd. Edited excerpts from the interview:

Congratulations on the success of Dahaad. You must have got so many compliments on your wonderful performance, but I must say to accept such a role was a brave decision. What were your reasons for doing it?

That was the reason! Whatever you were expecting from me, I wanted to go a different way and surprise you. The way the role was written for me, I didn’t have to think twice about it. When Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar narrated the script to me, I immediately said yes. The way they have interwoven the messaging in the script, the dynamism, I had to play this character.

This one is a really evolved character of a woman cop. There are strong layers of casteism and gender issues in Dahaad. You play a cop who belongs to the so-called lower caste. It has not been your world. You’re a Mumbai girl. What was the most surprising thing about your character?

You’re right. Lot’s of things actually. The casteism, the sexism, just the fact that she is a woman in a man’s world trying to make her voice heard. All these issues hit the right spot and I felt like you have to tell more stories about women like her to empower and encourage other women. And the kind of response I am getting post-Dahaad! So many women have come up to me about that whole marriage angle of the story. No matter what a woman does — she is solving crimes, she is saving people’s lives — but at home, those same questions are asked about marriage. So many women have related to this character.

True! I was really happy to see you riding a bullet. Did you learn how to ride a bike for the series?

(Laughs) Yes! I learnt it for the series and I liked it so much that now I have my own bike.

I also heard your dad (Shatrughan Sinha) wanted you to be a police officer…

When I was a kid, he used to tell his friends, “When my daughter grows up, I’ll prepare her to be a police officer.” So when I gave the look-test for Dahaad and wore the police uniform, I sent the first photo to my dad with a message, “Look dad, your dream has been fulfilled.”

What was his reaction after watching Dahaad?

He was thrilled. He has not finished watching it yet, but I know he is loving it because he keeps on forwarding messages from his friends praising the show and my performance. He is travelling and calls me to ask what will happen in the next episode. I tell him, “Why don’t you watch it?” (laughs). But he is very proud.

You began in 2010 with Salman Khan’s Dabangg, worked in so many big hits like Rowdy Rathore, Son of Sardar and, of course, that beautiful performance in Lootera. Which role gave you maximum satisfaction?

Lootera (2013) was one of those performances, for sure. Akira (2016), Noor (2017), and now Dahaad. These four projects have been the most satisfying experiences for me as an actor.

Also, after these big mainstream films, you went solo with strong female-oriented roles — the action film Akira (2016), Noor (2017), there were social comedies like Khandaani Shafakhana (2019) and Double XL (2022). Was it a conscious decision or were you bored of those big masala films?

I wasn’t bored of them because those films gave me the courage, strength and power to be able to do these kind of roles. Once I did Akira, it was an empowering feeling for me as a woman, to be able to do a film that rests completely on your shoulders. They say once you have tasted blood, there’s no going back. That really altered the way I look at my characters or a story. Then I went on that path and I am happy I did all these films. Some films worked, some didn’t, but I’ll keep trying.

You are delving in two different worlds — the raw gritty Dahaad and your next with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Heeramandi. What’s that character about and how was the experience of being in a Bhansali venture?

I can’t tell you anything about my character right now. It’s too soon. But the experience is unreal. To see the man create the magic that he creates... I can only say that he is really creating a character that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

You were the Dabangg girl with that iconic dialogue — Thappad se nahi pyaar se darr lagta hai (I don’t fear a slap, I fear love).

(Laughs) Now I am out to slap everyone in my cop’s role.

Yasser is a London-based film commentator and author

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