Sonam Kapoor on Harper’s BAZAAR September Cover [scans + excerp]
Sonam Kapoor’s Wild moment
Fashion’s MUSE and STYLE-SETTER may be what she has been called so far, but there’s a free-spirit vibe to the young actor that sets her apart
Since her much-publicised debut in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya in 2007,Sonam has kept shutterbugs aflutter for her acting, yes, but almost more so for her liberating and independent sartorial flair. As comfortable in a severe buttoned-up blouse from The Row, worn with high-waisted, wide-legged pants ass he is in a traditional Anamika Khanna ensemble, she has ushered in a new style sensibility to the otherwise ‘play it safe’ mantra that dominates Bollywood. Movie stars, whether we like it or not, set the fashion mood for the nation. And Sonam, in her short career, has become a fashion tour de force, one of the major trendsetters for a new generation of young women. She’s set the pace with daring dressing, going out on a limb when most actors border on the conservative. Fashion editors and stylists adore her, and designers clamour to dress her. No wonder, the widely read American fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily featured her alongside Chinese actress Li Bing Bing at the recent Cannes Film Festival.
How did the26-year-old so quickly capture the style zeitgeist? “The only reason I experiment with clothes is that I don’t give a damn about what people think. It’s about being myself and being comfortable, and people have to accept me for who I am. I don’t want to conform for the sake of people liking me.” Her piercings and tattoos attest to that, but she demurs when asked how many o rwhere (“not somewhere where you can see them”) and to being a rebel when she was younger (“all the typical stuff, like staying out too late”). She admits to being a risk taker. “Think about it. The greatest achievement in life is because of a risk you’ve taken. It can either be calculated or spontaneous, and for me, most of the time it’s spontaneous because I am a rebellious person.”
Five movies in four years, with two more on the floors, countless fashion shows, awards ceremonies, and movie premieres later, the leggy lass clearly looks like she’s enjoying herself. And why wouldn’t she? She was hand-picked to be L’Oréal Paris’s youngest brand ambassador. Roberto Cavalli invited her to an intimate private dinner in Cannes. She’s considered one of the bright young talents in the Hindi film industry. Not bad for a career four years in.
“I’m verycomfortable in what I wear and who I am,” she says. Maybe that’s what explainsher radical choice to don a Masaba Gupta polka-dot sari at Cannes. Although she received a lot ofcriticism at home for it, the Western press went gaga. Sonam justifies herselfby saying, “Yes, it wasn’t a typical hot bikini-blouse Swarovski sari, but lookat how Women’s Wear Daily picked itup. I do what I want to do, and I don’t react because I really don’t give ashit.”
Her incredible affinity for clothes ties into the one thing everyone repeatedly mentions when asked about Sonam: that she’s “all heart”. Anil Kapoor says that his oldest child makes emotional decisions, calling her “impractical”. Anamika Khanna says that the stylish star “thinks with her heart”. And in an industry rife withs quabbles and spats, nary a person has anything unkind to say about her.
lot of the credit, says dad Anil, goes to Sonam’s mother Sunita, who prefers to stay far from the limelight. Her profound influence is the reason Sonam is an avid reader, according to Anil. “When I was courting Sunita, she would finish two books aday. Sonam is the same way. Even now, Sonam goes into a room and doesn’t comeout for 48 hours, and when we go to check on her, we find that she’s beenreading the whole time.” The Kapoors actively encourage their three offsprings to be independent, and, as an established, successful actor, Anil made a conscious effort to stay away from her career. “I want my kids to make mistakes, because that’s how you learn. I never got any help from my parents and it worked for me, and now it’s working for Sonam.” It’s grounding that has likely kept the young actor from losing focus or getting mired in controversies.
As for what they think of their daughter being labelled a style icon, Kapoor senior pauses. “It comes naturally to her. My wife was a designer; I remember going to the Ensemble opening 20 years ago. We haven’t discouraged it in Sonam. She is first an actor and then a style icon, and we are aware of how the two go hand in hand.”
Despite her fashionista persona, Sonam is relate-able to many women because she has battled weight, reportedly dropping some 30kg after she finished high school. “I did itthe hard way. I exercised and I dieted like a normal human being. I did cardio,weight training, yoga, dancing, anything that made me move. But actually I think it all boils down to zipping your mouth. I’m not one of those girls who can eat everything and still be skinny, like every other actress in this industry.” For the record, she’s at her ideal body weight now, which is anywhere from 58 to 60 kilos.
For a star who loves ‘vintage’ and old-world style, her current wardrobe cravings will make workingwomen rejoice. High-waisted bell-bottom pants worn with turtlenecks for fall-winter, high-waisted maxi skirts, anything in tan and grey, super-high heels and what she calls the “sexy office look”. She follows fashion blogs like Jak and Jil, The Sartorialist, shops online compulsively, and turns to her younger-by-a-year sister Rhea for everything fashion-related. “My sister always played with dolls and dressed them up, and I was like one of her dolls growing up,” she jokes, describing their relationship.
When quizzed on her celebrity sister’s love for fashion, Rhea says, “The thing about Sonam is that her sense of dressing up is kind of like in a make-believe world. It’s her personality. If, for example, she’s wearing kundan jewellery, she’ll want to wear the headpiece and the neckpiece, and the earrings and the armbands, and the rings and the bracelets. Coco Chanel said when you look in the mirror, you must take off one thing and go. With Sonam, it’s like, take off the last three hings you put on. But the thing is that she’s enjoying wearing it, not because she wants to make a statement. Sonam dresses up because she enjoys it.”
The actor herself adds, “I wear what I am feeling. I’m psychotic when it comes to fashion. I’m a proper Gemini, and it depends on my mood and who I am at that point. I have a multiple personality disorder when it comes to fashion.” As for being called a style icon, she laughs. “To me Meena Kumari, Madonna, Lady Gaga—these are fashion icons. I don’t think I’ve changed the face of anything yet. I can be inspirational, but an icon? I’m just starting out.”