Sonam Kapoor, the 'reading' actress, on her literary favourites and the lessons they teach her
On the Monday evening we visit her at her Juhu residence, Sonam Kapoor is planning her Halloween costume. She has been on the phone with actress and friend Jacqueline Fernandes. “We were wondering what to wear,” she says. “I am going to go as Wednesday Adams, and take inspiration from when Christina Ricci played her, but also weave in elements from the original comic version. I’m going to do black lips!”
Pic/Stephanie Pfaender. Styling/Deep Kailey
Dressed in a kaftan, she looks as if she has been sleeping in. Spritzing herself with the Burberry perfume a house help brings her, she admits, “I have been like this all day today. It’s my only day off!”
She is taller than she looks in photos, and appears younger than her 30 years. We are sitting in the living room on the 3rd floor of the Kapoor home, talking books, and love, ahead of the release of her next movie, Sooraj Barjatya’s Salman Khan-starrer, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.
Some of the books Sonam has been reading
She reads fiction, primarily, but is giving non-fiction a chance, she says, flipping through what she is a 4,000 books collection on iBooks and Kindle. That’s not counting the hard copies lying around the house. “I am trying to read Robin Sharma’s The Mastery Manual,” she says, putting the Kindle aside, trotting off to the bedroom, from where she brings Daughter by Jane Shemilt. “A mother finds out things about her daughter after she disappears, and realises things are not what she thought. So it’s a thriller, but also about a mother’s journey.”
Kapoor never reads two books at once. “I’m a really fast reader,” she says, “And I usually read on flights, at home before going to sleep, on vacations… everywhere. That’s why you will find my books spotted. I also never leave a book half-way. I force myself to finish each one. It’s like the movies, right? We put in so much hard work, much like writers do.”
Her love for books dates back to the time her mother, Sunita, read out to her at bedtime. “I’d cry if she didn’t complete the story,” she laughs. “My first books were all Enid Blytons — the Famous Five, Secret Seven Mallory Towers variety.” But that was before she got into the Bronte sisters — Charlotte, Emily and Anne — and Jane Austen; those who taught her a bit about that that emotion called love. “I love the classic love story — you will laugh, but my favourite romantic couple is Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights, and that’s a so-not-happy love story! Rebecca is lovely too, and I would want to make a movie of it. Jane Eyre is my favourite comfort read of all times! Aren’t dysfunctional love stories the best ones?”
She has been thinking recently about what books and movies have taught her about love. She looks us in the eye and says, of course, she has had boyfriends, but right now, she is very, very single. “Take Holly Golightly and her neighbour, Paul, who end up together in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Love is love. She wanted a certain kind of man — someone rich — but she ended up falling in love with someone exactly like her. The best thing about romance is you can never predict who you fall in love with.”
An author she would want to meet - Jhumpa Lahiri. Isn't she pretty? I love her books. But I hear she is reclusive. I am such a fan girl.
Kapoor pauses for a second before she gets serious. “All the fiction in the world, and even the movies, have taught me that you need to fall in love with someone who is an equal, someone you can grow with. They tell you nobody’s perfect,
but there is always someone perfect for you. It’s tough, and it can also be natural and easy. And once you make a commitment, you make it.”
We are talking about Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight now, and we say we thought the heroine, Bella was regressive — lucky to be loved by the vampire hero, Edward. Kapoor jumps to Bella’s defence. “I think people feel that because the book is written from her point of view. She is 16, and he is gorgeous. And completely obsessed with her!”
But she does have a problem with 50 Shades of Grey’s, Anastasia. “It’s just too aggressive for me.”
Does what you read define you? we wonder. First, she says no, then, “Yes, maybe. You know, I am a typical Gemini, so I read everything. I can read science fiction and then courtroom dramas, and later some philosophy. I don’t think it applies to me. I am Sybil!”
We say we liked Flora Rheta Schreiber's book, with a protagonist who suffers from multiple personality disorder. “How good to meet someone who knows a book reference!” she squeals.
We switch tracks and ask why she is a favourite with trollers on Twitter. “I have such a great life. If I have to deal with some of that, I can.” She should tweet more about books, we suggest, and she laughs, “I do! I read the Goldfinch by Donna Tartt last year, and I tweeted that she should win the Pulitzer. And she did. I was like, damn! I predicted the Pulitzer.”
Sisters Sonam and Rhea Kapoor are launching their high street line, Rheson at Shoppers Stop next year.
“It’s going to be a reflection of what we wear every day,” she says, hoping to challenge H&M and Forever 21. “It’s for Indian girls, real girls. It’s going to be trendy but classic, and easy to wear in the heat.”
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