Acting is in her genes and if that doesnâ€™t help then sheâ€™s already blessed with starry eyes. All of nineteen (only) Soniya Mehra, daughter of the late renowned actor Vinod Mehra, is all set to radiate in the limelight with her debut film Victoria No 203, a remake of the yesteryears hit film by the same name.
Born and bred in London, the young sensuous beauty always had her eyes on Bollywood and wanted to make it big in the industry from day one.
In a chat with Businessofcinema.com, the debutant actor talks about her launch pad, inevitable comparisons with her father, donning a sensuous avatar and much more.
Victoria No 203 is your first stint with acting. Have you had any formal training?
Yes, I did theatre from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art from where I learnt the nitty gritties of acting. But I always aspired to be a part of Bollywood. And as they say, the legacy of showbiz and my dadâ€™s blood is running in my veins. So, I was destined to be here.
London theatre and Bollywood are poles apart. How difficult was it for you to transform completely?
Honestly speaking, initially it was very difficult for me to get into the groove of Hindi cinema. I joined Anupam Kherâ€™s acting academy and that helped in polishing my acting skills. Language was another barrier, which I am still trying to overcome. Though theatre is fun, Bollywood is more exciting as itâ€™s a blend of music, dance and acting.
Some remakes have miserably bombed at the box office, were you apprehensive of risking a debuting with the remake of Victoria No 203?
Yes, some remakes have not worked well. Well, I wonâ€™t take names, but such films that didnâ€™t click had intense storylines. And our concept is funny and light. It has comic shades and one canâ€™t go wrong with that. I am sure it will do well.
Your character is exactly the same as Saira Banuâ€™s (in the original version). Was it a conscious decision to act like her or do something radically different?
Well a bit of both. I wanted to mix and match. I wanted some of Sairaji in me but at the same time I want to showcase my ‘ada’ and ‘andaz’. I wonâ€™t exaggerate, but I saw the original movie eight times. I had no intensions of re-enacting someone because the audience will typecast me, which I donâ€™t want.
Did you meet Sairaji at any point during or after the completion of the film?
No, I havenâ€™t met her till now. But I am dying to do so. I think I will ask Kamalji (the producer) to arrange our meeting.
You have a sensuous sequence in the film. Are you open to skin show on screen?
I play a simple middle-class girl in the film. Itâ€™s a song where I am draped in a towel and it is quite sensuous. Frankly, I was a bit skeptical about doing the film because of this song, but it was a necessary sequence and the script demanded it. I donâ€™t mind skin-show but only if it’s required.
Youâ€™re the only newcomer in Victoria No 203. How was the experienced cast to work with?
Itâ€™s because of Anupamji that I bagged this film and heâ€™s a great person to work with. I have around four scenes with Jimmy Shergill and it was a pleasure working with him. He would often help me with technicalities. Preeti (Jhangiani) and I hit it off instantaneously and have become good friends.
Did any of your fatherâ€™s friends from the industry help you out in your struggle?
Yes, so many of them offered me guidance. Anil Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Jitendra, Rekhaji, and many more helped in many ways. They advised me how to go about the films I am being offered. In fact, Shabana Azmi feels that I am too young and still have time to enter Bollywood.
How much do you see your father Vinod Mehra in you?
This is scary but a few days ago, I was watching my fatherâ€™s film. And I noticed that we are very similar. The audience is surely going to love it because I look like him, our actions and expressions are similar.