Actress Sobhita Dhulipala talks to Titas Chowdhury about life after the phenomenal success of Made in Heaven, her dreams as a performer and upcoming projects

Congratulations on the massive success of Made in Heaven! How has life changed after such positive reviews?

I am more assured as a person and I don't feel lost among the filmy crowd anymore. We shot for it two years ago, so I had moved on from this project a while back. We shot for it in 2017 and in early 2018. So, I began testing other frontiers emotionally and creatively. But to see that it has been accepted and appreciated so much is definitely motivating because I have largely made content-driven choices throughout my career. To finally see that one of them has done well and is validated makes me feel that it is not so bad after all (Smiles).

You have had quite a journey. If given a chance, is there something that you would like to change?

No. My first film was shot in 2015 and came out in 2016. From then to now, I have done eight projects in total, out of which only some are out. Raman Raghav 2.0 gave me a lot of strength. It was very important for me that people take me seriously for what I bring to the table without reducing me to someone who is 'model-type'. The tag was terrifying and it was important for me to be recognised for my skill. To be a part of a film like Raman Raghav 2.0 with a director like Anurag Kashyap felt great. And, I was nominated at the Cannes Film Festival for it, which meant so much to me. When you are a 23-year-old girl who is figuring things out, you realise that sticking to things that mean something to you even if they don't bring you that much money, fame or any of the perks that come with being a known actor is important. But it gave me strength that can't be substituted by anything else.

I did Kaalakaandi after that which didn't do so well, but it was an interesting experience for me. Then I did a Telugu film called Goodachari that came out last August.

You were mostly into reading books and then modelling happened. When did you realise your love for acting?

After college, I took part in Miss India out of curiosity. I wanted to know where I stand. I was also very young, emotionally. After I won, I did some modelling. I was very new to the whole beauty business and was quite charmed by it. I was very curious about what it was like. I thought I would enjoy it but I didn't really connect with it. I gave hundreds and thousands of auditions for advertisements. Raman Raghav 2.0 was actually my first film audition. I was auditioning for it and halfway through it, I knew that this is what I want to pursue. Film auditions have a story, a narrative. Ads have no solid story to them. You feel like a salesperson with really nice makeup (Laughs). Within an hour of the audition, I got the part. In two days, we were shooting the film. In the next six months, we were in France for the film festival. It was like a dream. The whole exercise left a huge impact on me because of the people I was surrounded by; Anurag Kashyap and Nawazuddin (Siddiqui) who are very passionate and who believe in putting honesty and individuality in high regard. It made me believe that if people like them can receive so much respect, why can't I be like them? Why do I have to succumb to something lesser? That is how I fell in love with the whole acting world. Also, I have great affection for imagination. If I am able to live in a different world even for two months, that is great.

When it comes to the digital space, the biggest advantage is the absence of censorship. But there is talk of curbing the freedom one enjoys on the web. As an actor, what importance does creative freedom hold for you?

Freedom is not the right to do what we want; it is the opportunity to do what is right. We need to understand why we are given that freedom and learn to use that in a fair manner. We cannot just jazz things up because they will be consumed faster. That will then go in some other direction. I hope that does not happen.

We had some intimate scenes in Made in Heaven. I don't know if they would have made it to a feature film and we would have been scared because of censorship; people would have rebelled. In Made in Heaven, there was a certain normalcy about the intimate scenes in the way they were shot. Initially, in our films, they could not show two people kissing and so they would show flowers as an excuse for the emotions. We are okay with showing violence and knives going into someone's body – bullet shots, death and violence are stylised; villains raping girls are also shown. How is that normal? And, how is it abnormal when people kiss? That is weird! In fact, people kissing is more normal. I hope the opportunity of a free web space doesn't get abused.

Is there any part or genre that you really want to explore?

I would love to do a historical film because I am obsessed with mythology and history. I am a classical dancer. I have learnt Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi. I started learning Kathak. I am very enthusiastic about that. I think it would be really nice to do something in that space. I also did some action for this Netflix project called The Bard of Blood, which I just finished. I was very surprised to find that I am pretty decent at it and I enjoyed it (Laughs). I felt like I can do it without a beard. It was fun. It was all about machine guns. I am very excited about that too!

And what about the second season of Made in Heaven? Where do you see Tara?

They have started writing it. I have no idea where the plot is going to take us. I feel there is so much that can be explored. How it is that Tara is so non-judgmental of Karan? She comes from a fairly lower-middle class family where homosexuality is mocked and laughed at. How does she find it so normal and healthy? How did she arrive at this point? Their friendship can have a back story. I don't know if she is going to go back to Adil! Will she get pregnant? There are so many things that can happen. I am so excited. And the wardrobe (Laughs)! It was so much fun wearing those clothes.

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