Soha Ali Khan recently delivered two babies—daughter Inaya whose photos have begun finding their way to the society pages and websites –and the other a tongue-in-cheek book titled Perils of Being Moderately Famous – a look at life lived in the shadows of famous family members.
Motherhood sits well with the freshly minted author and comes up often in our conversation accompanied by her trademark self-deprecating humour and a degree of candour that’s rare.
When we meet at her plush apartment in the suburbs, she confesses that she is desperately looking for a good nanny for the little one. She says her husband actor Kunal Khemu is extremely worried about the baby having too much hair although they are both excited about her light grey eyes. As we speak, she also jocularly remarks how nephew Taimur (brother Saif and Kareena Kapoor’s little one) has beaten everyone in the popularity stakes.
Between her movies, Soha Ali Khan thought it best to pen down her unique experiences as an actor and life as the said moderately famous person. And, she has done her family, especially mum Sharmila Tagore proud. In fact, the book launch was a star-studded affair with the illustrious members of her family –namely Sharmila Tagore, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Kunal Khemu and sister Saba Ali Khan present. The book has since made its way to the bestseller’s list.
Watch: Soha Ali Khan gets candid with Priyanka Sinha Jha in the seventh episode of Expresso
Given her family tree, she agrees that all members of her family have a bestseller in them but it is mother Sharmila whose biography would interest her. “My mother has had a fantastic life not only in terms of her profession but also being born in the pre-independence era and then married into a Nawab’s family. And how that might have impacted her. So, I would certainly be interested in her biography or autobiography.”
Soha Ali khan grew up between a quasi-royal and modern world presided over by her father, cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore, a superstar of Hindi cinema. Royal legacy apart, the most prized inheritance from her parents is the progressive education they ensured for their children.
Of course, the part that she retains from indulgent royal upbringing is her passion for Kiwifruits, which she admits are expensive, and being woken up with a foot massage!
But for most other purposes, Soha is as much the aam admi as the guy next door—a habit inculcated by her father, the Nawab of Pataudi. She recalls that they were given an allowance which they could spend the way they liked. On this one occasion when she received Rs 500 as Idi, her father said, “’Why don’t you give it to me and I will give you fifty rupees every August?’ I thought that was an interesting idea so, he was my first bank. He continued to give me fifty rupees every August until he passed away so it was our little tradition. And I thought that was a lovely way to understand the value of money.”
I quiz her about the similarities that she finds between the life of a film star and royalty given that her own has been a heady combination of the two. She is quick to respond, “Role models in my mother’s time were people like Princess Ayesha. Members of the royal family were your icons as film stars were frowned upon and today you have Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, so many film stars who are role models and I think that’s a wonderful change.”
Given that most of our conversation veers around family, the dreaded N word—Nepotism does come up and I can’t resist tabling the contentious question. The actor remains unfazed. She answers with her brand of assured calmness, “Perhaps your contacts and close relatives will open up some doors but at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s trite to say that hard work and talent will take you much further and see to it that those doors remain open.”