From playing the quintessential Indian girl in Dabangg to the ‘fearless-one’ in Akira, Sonakshi Sinha gets vocal about self defence, weight loss and body shaming.
Akira has been carrying forward #FightLikeAGirl on twitter. What does it mean?
It means that women are strong. Women are not any less than men in any scenario, be it the taking part in the Olympics or going to space or doing movies like Akira. There is nothing today that women can’t do. That is what #FightLikeAGirl symbolises. Men too, should fight like girls. Perhaps then, they would win more medals.
There is this general perception that women make up the weaker sex and cannot flourish in certain areas of life. Have you ever been a victim of this prejudice?
Thankfully, I have never faced such a situation in my life but this perception has to be altered. My parents never treated me any differently than my brothers. I think this is an important aspect which needs to be taken care of when you’re bringing up a girl child. She needs to be absolutely confident of that fact that she is equal to the other gender.
How have you prepared for the fighting sequences in the movie?
When I was told that I had to do an action movie, I didn’t want to be unprepared. One has to be at a certain level of fitness to do the kind of action I have done in the movie. That cannot be achieved without proper training. I started training in mixed martial arts four months before we began shooting for the movie. It was quite painful. It was a gruelling, intense experience but it was worth it.
Do you think you are reinventing Bollywood movies by your choice of roles? Akira is a woman- centric movie, so are you the hero in it?
When a man does action movies, they are never labelled as hero-centric. Why should my movie be called woman-centric? Akira was a great character to play and I have been wanting to do a movie like this for a long time now which shows that women can do action roles as well. In fact, for the first time, people will see the remake of a movie in which the gender of the central character has been reversed. This has never been done before. I hope that people follow suit and make more movies like this. I feel, this is the right time to be a woman in the film industry because many good roles being written, keeping women in mind.
With last year’s NH10, and this year’s Akira, do you think the focus of Bollywood movies is shifting from man-centric to woman-centric?
We are actors doing our jobs, irrespective of our genders. Having said that, if a woman does action films, why should that make people raise their eyebrows in astonishment?
You have been labelled as the hero of Akira many times. Does that bother you?
No. It feels good as I understand the sentiment behind it. A lot of people express it that way. Honestly, if that’s how people want to say it, I don’t mind, really.
From the trailer of Akira, your action sequences in the movie look comparable to those done by the Hollywood actors. How do you feel about that?
Actors in Bollywood especially, are not given opportunities to do such action flicks. There’s a lot that we can do. I am really happy that I got the chance to do that on screen, which is why you noticed it and appreciated my efforts and compared it to Hollywood movies even. I hope these movie breaks a lot of barriers for women when it comes to doing action in Hindi film.
What challenges did you face while doing Akira?
My character in Akira is drastically different from who I am as a person, in real life. Being a girl, I’ve been brought up in a protected environment. Akira has not had that. After seeing all the situations that Akira has been through, it is hard to imagine myself in her shoes. Portraying Akira’s emotions, doing justice to the character of Akira by my portrayal - that was the most challenging aspect of this movie for me, apart from the action.
What angers you enough to take action in life?
Gender inequality, in general. I feel that it’s just wrong but I’m really happy that women having started speaking up and standing up for themselves. We still have a long way to go, though. Also, corruption.
Now that you’ve learnt self defence, would you allow a man to protect you in real life?
Why would I? I don’t need anybody to protect me, be it a man or a woman. This is the message, I feel, people will take back from Akira. It urges you to make yourself so strong that you don’t need to depend on anybody.
Do you plan to change your popular ‘Indian woman’ image with Akira?
A: I have been appreciated for my ‘Indian-ness’. The general feedback I get from the public is that I’m the quintessential Indian heroine. I feel that my image is not something I the need to change because you need to change your image when it is bad. My image has been good for me, in every way and I like being a Bollywood heroine.
Have you beaten up bad guys in real life?
Yes I have, but I am not going to divulge their identities.
How do you feel about Anurag Kashyap’s role in the movie?
Anurag Kashyap plays the villain in the movie and he has acted very well, as can be seen from the trailer of the movie. He understood his character well and has portrayed it brilliantly. In fact, I told him that he should act more during our movie’s shooting.
What would you like to say to the women who have been victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence and eve teasing, but do not want bring it out in the open?
Women should raise their voices and use the various mediums we have today to complain, vent out their frustration and anger, and to bring awareness.
Hushing up things accomplishes nothing. If a woman has been subjected to sexual abuse, it is important to remember that she is not at fault here. The wrong-doer is somebody else. We, as women need to advocate this. This trend of victim- shaming needs to be stopped.
You portray the angry young woman in Akira? Do you think anger in women is warranted?
Absolutely. If somebody tries to hurt you or defame you in any manner, be angry. If you can do something productive out of that anger, even better.
What did your father think when he saw the trailer of Akira?
He was impressed and very proud of me. He gave me the biggest compliment ever saying that he himself has never worked as hard as he has seen me work for this film.
Would you be interested in doing a small web series?
Yes, absolutely. I believe that we live in a digital world and if something really interesting came along, I would be open to doing it.
This film, in a lot of ways promotes fitness. How do you differentiate between fitness and being unhealthy? How comfortable are you with the term flab to fit?
I don’t pay much attention to the ideas floating around in the industry because it isn’t something that affects me in any away.I am somebody who has always portrayed a very healthy body image and will continue to do irrespective of what people write about me and say about me. It has not affected my work in any way. If anything, I’ve done quite a number films in such a short span of time because of how I am. I want girls to understand that if they’re hardworking and dedicated to their work, they’ll be successful. I do advocate fitness though. I remember I was overweight in school but I could run faster than the thinnest girl. I was fit.When I realised that I was getting unhealthy, that is when I made the effort to lose the extra weight and work on myself.Losing weight is something that should always be done for the right reasons and not because somebody is telling you that you should look a certain way.