I feel I can now step up: Soha Ali Khan on her renewed interest in acting
Soha Ali Khan has found her passion for acting again as the actor says that she now has the time to invest her energies in her work and her debut web series “Kaun Banegi Shikharwati” is a step in that direction. The “renewed interest” in acting, as Soha puts it, happened after she realised that she can balance her life as a mother and as an actor. “I have a renewed interest in acting… It is possible to be a responsible and involved parent and it’s also possible to have a career of your own. And it’s very important to do both. And my choice of career has been acting. I really do enjoy it,” Khan told PTI in an interview.
Daughter of veteran actor Sharmila Tagore and the late cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Soha followed her mother and brother Saif Ali Khan’s footsteps to make a career in cinema.
The 43-year-old actor is recognised for her work in films such as “Rang De Basanti”, “Ahista Ahista”, “Mumbai Meri Jaan” and “Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns”.
She took a break after her 2018 movie “Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3”, following the birth of daughter Inaaya, whom she raises with actor-husband Kunal Kemmu.
“After the lockdown happened, I was very happy because I didn’t have to make excuses to people who said why aren’t you out there? Why aren’t you working? Why aren’t you writing another book? And I used to tell them about the lockdown and the online school for my daughter. Then things started to open up again a little bit. Then this show (Kaun Banegi Shikharwati) happened and that too at the height of the pandemic. They managed to create a bio bubble in Rajasthan and we managed to shoot there.” Soha said she is well aware that acting is a “time consuming profession”, which takes a person away from home for 12-14 hours a day but she is now ready to invest that time.
“Kunal has been shooting round the clock and one parent needs to be there. So I have said no to lots of things because I wanted to be there for her. You’re constantly striking a balance. I decided to have a child I think when I was 38 because I was ready to strike a balance and I was ready to be there for her. But now she’s becoming more independent and she would only be more independent from this point on. So I feel like I can now step up. I will start doing more things for myself.”
Soha, who debuted as an author with her book “The Perils of Being Moderately Famous” in 2017, said she chose to stay relevant rather than running after fame.
“In terms of what people call traditionally famous, I still think that I’m very moderately famous. But I’m also very content with where I am. I want to stay relevant in life. I would not stay famous because I don’t know what famous really means. I don’t want to be forgotten or dismissed, certainly. I think the idea is just to be a part of what is going on in life, the culture that is outside. Whether it is films, OTT, social media or the talk of what’s happening, I want to be a part of the conversation,” she said.
“Kaun Banegi Shikharwati”, which started streaming on ZEE5 from Friday, stars Naseeruddin Shah as an eccentric king in search for his heir apparent — one among his four daughters, played by Soha, Lara Dutta, Kritika Kamra and Anya Singh.
Soha said she was excited to work with the show’s ensemble cast but part of the reason for saying yes to it was her eagerness to explore the familiar world of royal families.
Her own father Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was the ninth and last Nawab of Pataudi until 1971, when the Indian government abolished royal entitlements through the 26th Amendment to the Constitution.
“It’s a world that I’ve known and I’ve seen, especially in Rajasthan, as a child growing up. We grew up and lived in Delhi but we used to go to Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur, attend weddings there, spend time with the families there and get a glimpse into that life. And then we would come back to our urban centre of Delhi and Mumbai and lead different lives.
“So you could see how India, fascinatingly, is straddling so many centuries. The things that were done five centuries ago are still being done today. The lifestyles that existed centuries ago are still somewhat being followed today. As a person who has had royal lineage and also as someone who studied history for various reasons, I wanted to be in that world.”
Soha said the central story of “Kaun Banegi Shikharwati”, about four sisters vying for the title of Shikharwati, also resonated with her. Asked whether she had a competitive sort of a relationship with her siblings, Soha said it varied.
“Saif and I, we are nine years apart. So we were never really competing for the same thing. And we never even really grew up under the same roof. We became close from 2002 onwards when I moved to Mumbai. Before that, he was always the bhai who I would see with a glimpse of red hair. He would come home from England. Then he would be sleeping all day and out all night… He was of course quite mischievous growing up. We would all hear these legendary stories. And we would never be able to do that and so no point in competing with that.”
With her sister, jewellery designer Saba Ali Khan, the relationship was slightly competitive, Soha said.
“My sister and I were a little bit competitive because we are two and a half years apart. So we actually did fight over toys, clothes, and chocolates. We were very different people and we would often clash as all sisters do, who are sharing one room.”