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31st October has the right message: Soha Ali Khan

The Rang De Basanti actress will be seen next in the film based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, with Vir Das.

Sonal Pandya

Soha Ali Khan returned to acting this year after two years with Sunny Deol’s Ghayal Once Again where she essayed a supporting role as his psychiatrist girlfriend. For her upcoming film, 31st October, Khan takes on a more challenging role as Tejinder Kaur, a mother and wife, in this real life story of the 24 hours after then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984.

Khan called the film “an intimate story, about one family in that time and probably in the genre of thriller-suspense-action film of what they struggle to survive the night and whether they make it or not.”

She addressed the question of added pressure that comes with the territory of playing a real-life character. Khan said, “I think there is a responsibility that comes with a subject like this that comes close to many people’s hearts. A whole community feels very strongly about what happened, so you want to treat it sensitively, you don’t want to exploit it for commercial gain. You don’t want to rehash old wounds. You also don’t want it to be politicised because that’s not the objective of the film at all. I feel this film has the right message, that’s why I’m happy to be associated with it.”

31st October gives her and co-star Vir Das (who’s mostly known for his comic persona) an opportunity to perform and both of them committed to the film completely. Even though the role is out of her comfort zone, she didn’t go through any extra preparation as she felt there is no additional preparation one makes for an emotional role such as this. Khan explained, “You have to feel. Between action and cut, it is important to feel and be in the moment, and that’s where empathy comes in. Some people do method acting. For me, it’s just about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.”

Other actresses like Anushka Sharma and Priyanka Chopra have chosen to go down the film production route and Soha Ali Khan will soon be embarking on the same road. She and husband Kunal Khemu have opened a production company called Renegade Films and will be co-producing a biopic soon.

The actress is conscious of her on-screen, as well as off-screen image and chooses her projects carefully. “There has to be something that has to be memorable about it, that has an impact, so that when the film ends that character stays with you somewhere.  It’s not the length of the role. There’s a scene that keeps you up at night and you will find it difficult to play. So those things are why you choose to do that because it’s more of a challenge.”

She is no hurry to change her career graph. Khan discloses that “my career is a part of my life so my happiness is not determined by my career. I’m sure that my career could be better and I could be doing films with better directors and bigger banners and all that, but that doesn’t take away from my happiness.”

31st October, directed by Shivaji Lotan Patil, will release 7 October 2016.