Happy Birthday Sonakshi Sinha!!!!!! Turning 33 today, wow! Did not realize she was that old. I guess it is because she has such a fun bubbly youthful spirit.
Sonakshi is a filmi kid, and also a political kid. Her dad Shatrughan Sinha is a bit hard to label. He had a few starring roles in the 80s, and was also willing to take supporting parts, and even villain roles. Generally speaking, people liked him. He was also one of the first actors to fall in with the Shiv Sena crowd, and he acted (and still acts) as a big of a bridge between the real hardliners and the film industry. When the BJP and Shiv Sena were using Padmavat as a political tool, Shatrughan spoke up and said that wasn’t right. In 2019, he even switched parties from BJP to Congress. When Sanjay Dutt was stuck in jail, it was Shatrughan who went to Sunil and stood by him and helped him talk to Bal Thackaray and get Sanjay out. Shatrughan also has a humorous question and answer column in the back of FilmFare magazine and has for years. Like I said, hard to label. But definitely someone who is friends with a lot of people, and those people like his daughter.
Salman gave her her launch on Dabangg when she was 23. Sonakshi had been working for 5 years already, she went to a local school for high school and then did a fashion degree from a local college, and at 19 started working on film sets as a costume designer. A nice childhood, certainly, but not a spoiled one. Her Dad’s connections helped her get a job I am sure, but hardly a glamorous one. And at 19, she didn’t “have” to work at all, other young women with rich politician fathers at that age are dabbling in starting their own fashion lines, or thinking about being an interior designer, or just sitting around waiting for marriage. Instead, Sonakshi got a degree from a grungy unimpressive technical institute and went off to work as one of the lowest persons on a film set. All this tells me that she has a strong work ethic, and her family supports it.
Salman handpicked her for Dabangg. He knew her through her father and her costume work, and thought she had a good look. She had to “lose weight” for the role, but I just looked it up, and she lost 6 pounds. I don’t know if I even count that as dieting, personally. That’s, like, “I think I will go for a two mile walk every day” kind of weightloss. I’m glad I looked it up because that factoid had always puzzled me, since Salman clearly didn’t want a skinny fashion model look.
Sonakshi was really perfect for the Dabangg heroine. She has a classical Indian kind of beauty, a still oval face you can’t look away from, and an amazing statuesque figure. If you look at Sonakshi in Dabangg, suddenly the “moonlike face” lyrics make sense, and you understand what a sari is supposed to look like on a woman. She announced this film as set in a village and for villagers, where the whole westernized extreme skinny look for women just hasn’t caught on.
Plus, Sonakshi is GOOD!!!! Really good. Her heroine has a lot to do and a lot of emotions to express, silently, and Sonakshi lets you know exactly how she feels all the time. It was a really great debut, got the audience intrigued by her look and proved to the industry that she could act.
Dabangg was followed by a huge burst of signing. It released in 2010, Sonakshi worked hard in 2011, and in 2012 was in FIVE movies. Three of them hit, all light action films with Sonakshi as the strong heroine. Of course she didn’t get credit for what she was doing, but if you watch Son of Sardaar (for instance), she is funny and touching and more than a match for the hero. That was also what the stories coming from sets were beginning to confirm. People liked her, especially men liked her. She was good at being one of the guys. Rohit Shetty joked about how she insisted on doing a stunt too, and ended up having a whole trick motorcycle scene he designed for her. Prabhu Deva liked her so much while directing her in Rowdy Rathore, he brought her back to do a dance with him as a cameo in OMG. And Salman insisted on bringing her back for Dabangg 2, and gave her even more to do.
In 2013, Sonakshi dabbled in trying something a little more serious. She was the lead in Lootera, and shockingly good in a very strange poetic period piece love story. She tried playing a similar role in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaii, but was so miss-cast it was a disaster. Her big hit was R…Rajkumar, yet another action heroine role.
2014 saw her output begin to slow down. Only 3 movies, all heroine roles, only one of them was a hit (Action Jackson). There’s a bit of a curse for action heroines. When the movie hits, you never get the credit, because obviously it was the male Star who did everything important. But when it fails, you start to be labeled as “unlucky” and no one wants to work with you. Not sure if that is what happened with Sonakshi, but she definitely stopped getting as many roles.
Maybe because of that, maybe because she was just bored, Sonakshi moved into a place of seeking out more challenges for her career, and sacrificing commercial success if she had to. She dabbled in singing, released a single, and appeared in a music video for Yo Yo Honey Singh (my favorite Yo Yo music video). And then she committed to Akira, a total action film, in which she played the Hero. I love Akira, Sonakshi is spectacular in it, clearly did fight training and stunt training and it shows. Plus, just a great performance, as a woman no one trusts or understands who always goes her own way. Unfortunately, it flopped. Fortunately, it didn’t stop Sonakshi from taking the unusual roles. She went on to do Noor, a movie that suffers from terrible direction and a bad script adaptation of a fun book, but is still the lightest funnest most female focused movie we’ve had in ages. Then Ittefaq, playing the femme-fatale-or-is-she, a very challenging and unlikeable role. Welcome to New York, a strange behind the scenes comedy. Happy Phirr Bhaag Jayage, a low budget female centered comedy. Khandaani Shefakhani, another off-beat light comedy heroine part, playing a woman who inherits a sex clinic. And of course Kalank, playing the older boring dying wife and easily stealing the film from Alia, our “heroine”.
There’s a route the aging action heroine is “supposed” to take. Once she is no longer the flavor of the month, once her films start flopping and she is labeled a “jinx”, she is supposed to get married and retire. Or, alternatively, start making “serious” movies about “real” issues and get a lot of critical acclaim even if she can’t get commercial success any more. Sonakshi rejected both those options. Just as earlier she had taken a lowlevel job on film sets instead of enjoying her status as her father’s daughter, she risked everything by taking strange Lootera right at the start of her career, now she has decided she likes acting, she likes doing certain kinds of roles, and she is going to keep doing them. Even if they are in modest movies that will never get critical or commercial success, she will do what she wants to do and ignore what people think of her.
Which brings me to Sonakshi in songs! She is just irrisistable in a big song number. And maybe it’s that same “I don’t care what you think” attitude. Watching her dance really does feel like “dance like no one is watching”. She isn’t dancing for the camera, or the audience, just for herself for the joy of it.
Here she is in Rowdy Rathore, only one film old, easily dominating the dance floor. “Chamak Challo”
“Go Go Govinda”, her first (of many) item songs
Fantasy love song, Sonakshi style. “Saree Ke Fall Sa”
Taking a movie break to make my favorite Yo Yo video, “Superstar”
More Punjabi rappers, who wrote a song for her for Noor. Another group of guys who she seems to get along GREAT with. “Move Your Lakk”
Baadshah likes her so much, he made his acting debut opposite her in Khandaani Shekhani. AND wrote her another song, “Koka”
That’s Sonakshi! She does what she wants when she wants it because she likes it. And the delightful thing is, she seems to inspire that same attitude in others. Check out this music video made to promote Khandaani Shefakhani. So many people are in it! For no reason! No connection to the film or anything else, it just looked like a fun thing to do.