Soha Ali Khan on pros and cons of playing a real person

The actress who made her debut in Dil Maange More!!! (2004) opposite Shahid Kapoor turns 38 today (4 October).

Sonal Pandya

Soha Ali Khan’s latest film, 31st October, opens this Friday. After this year’s Ghayal Once Again, it is her first major starring role in awhile. The Rang De Basanti actress spoke about what initially drew her to the role of Tajinder Kaur, a wife and mother caught up in the immediate aftermath of the 1984 assassination of India’s first female prime minister, Indira Gandhi. “It’s an opportunity to perform. It’s also the fact that it was a real life story and this incident did happen in history. That’s something that interested me and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Khan also talked about the importance of playing a real person as opposed to a fictional character. She said, “There are benefits and disadvantages to both because when you play a fictionalised character, then there’s no reference point. So nobody knows whether you’re close to that character or not. And you make it your own completely. Here there is a reference point, this is somebody who the audience doesn’t know but she represents someone. She represents a typical middle-class working woman from a Sikh community who finds herself in a particular situation. So from that sense, it was easier for me. But in terms of emotion, it’s difficult because there’s a lot that that character goes through and to bring that to the screen, in terms of expression, is difficult especially because I certainly have not faced anything like that. So then a lot of it is imagining yourself in that position and trying to feel that same level of threat or fear.”

Directed by Shivaji Lotan Patil, 31st October also stars actor-comedian Vir Das as Soha Ali Khan’s husband, Davinder Singh. It releases on 7 October.