It's tea not coffee Sonakshi Sinha on landing Bhansali's 'Heeramandi'

    Mumbai, Mar 6 (PTI) Next time you visit Sanjay Leela Bhansali's office, have tea, not coffee, says actor Sonakshi Sinha while narrating a fun anecdote behind her casting in the director's upcoming streaming show "Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar".
    Bhansali produced Sonakshi's 2012 film "Rowdy Rathore" and they have been trying to collaborate for a long time but nothing materialised.
    "He has been very encouraging... We tried to work together but it didn’t work out, and we were always in touch. Every time I went to his office, we would chat over coffee.
    "I was like sir, 'Every time I come to your office, we have coffee and then I leave. I’m not having coffee with you, I will have tea'. I had tea (and) we had the same sort of conversation and I went home. And then, I am in ‘Heeramandi’. So, tea is the answer guys, not coffee,” the actor said on day two of FICCI Frames 2024.
    Sonakshi, who plays Fareedan in the multi-starrer drama set during India's freedom struggle when courtesans ruled the cultural landscape, said she just loves the way Bhansali, known for films such as "Devdas", "Bajirao Mastani" and "Gangubai Kathiawadi", presents women on screen film after film.    
    "Sanjay sir and I have been trying to collaborate for many years and I'm glad it happened with 'Heeramandi'. The way he portrays his women on screen, nobody is able to do that. He has got a very different vision for it in spite of it being all magnum opus... He takes good care of how his female characters are portrayed on screen, and that's something I appreciate about him," she said.
    The eight-part series, which was teased during Netflix's mega Next On event recently, also features Manisha Koirala, Aditi Rao Hydari, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal, and Sanjeeda Shaikh.
    According to Sinha, the director has given equal importance to all the female characters in the series.
    "'In 'Heeramandi', we have six different women with six different stories to tell, and each one has been importance... So, to be part of something like this is tremendous. The fact that we are going global with Netflix, being able to reach out to so many people, this is something that everybody should be able to watch. I’m so glad to be a part of it.”
    Having worked with the national award-winning director, Sinha said she has blossomed into a "patient and stronger" actor.
    “I walked away as a more patient and resilient actor. That’s a good thing, and good things take time and greater things take more time. To be a part of something like this does require a lot of patience.
    "I know I do my job well. Here you have to mould yourself along with what has been created in front of you, the process of completely surrendering and if you are not able to do that, then you cannot be part of something like this. I think I walked away as a much stronger actor after 'Heeramandi'.”
    At this stage of her career, the "Dahaad" star said she wants to be "challenged" as an actor. She also expressed gratitude to Bhansali for having the "confidence" in her.
    "Every actor craves to be challenged. I’ve grown and learnt through experiences. I've started from scratch. I had no experience of being on a film set, and I used to not visit my dad’s sets when I was a child. I had no training in acting or dancing, I was not groomed for it. I was thrown into the deep end of the pool and told, ‘swim’. That’s how I learnt things.
    "Every experience for me was something that I cherish because I learnt a lot from every person I worked with. It has got me to the point where Sanjay Leela Bhansali has confidence in me to offer me a role like Fareedan, who is very complex,” the actor said.
    The actor, who has appeared in masala entertainers like "Dabangg", "Rowdy Rathore", and "R Rajkumar", said she has no qualms about doing commercial films at the onset of her career. She added that the experience of working on such movies gave her the "confidence" to headline women-oriented films.
    "I've been working for 14 years and I’ve done all sorts of roles. I started off with commercial masala films where it was always about the hero, which I’m not complaining about, as it gave me an audience and wide reach. It gave me the confidence to shoulder films on my own."
    "That's when I started playing strong women characters, which were different from the others, like ‘Akira’ or ‘Noor’ or ‘Khandani Shafakhana’ or ‘Dahaad’, I consciously chose roles that I’ve not played before. That pushed and challenged me as an actor,” she said.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)