There is something about advertiser-turned-author Anuja Chauhan’s female characters that makes Sonam K Ahuja “an ideal choice” for their screen versions. Sonam, who plays the lead in The Zoya Factor, a romantic movie based on the novel by the same name and written by Chauhan, believes this. The role of Zoya Solanki was offered to her several times in the last few years, as the project changed hands. “Zoya is a mess. She has a regular job and a terrible love life. I don’t think we have had ordinary, contemporary characters like Zoya on the big screen recently,” says the actor, adding that her character Milli in Khoobsurat (2014) was also a mess. The movie releases on September 20.
What makes Zoya special is that she is “an everyday girl” with issues — she is low on confidence and things are not great for her on the work front. She is a girl-next-door who is believed to be the Indian cricket team’s “lucky charm” after some coincidences. “Most woman characters are shown as sati savitris or damsels in distress. She is very ordinary and someone many people can easily identify with,” says Sonam, who is sporting frizzy hair in the film. She has also gained 10 kilos for the role, as Zoya is described as a plump girl in the novel The Zoya Factor, which was published in 2008.
“Since I am 5 feet 10 inches tall, it does not show that I’ve gained weight,” she says. The actor is also likely to play the lead role in the screen adaptation of yet another novel by Chauhan, titled Battle for Bittora.
When we meet the 34-year-old amidst promotions, she is nursing a patch of rashes on her leg. “This is the result of stress. I get it every time before the promotions,” says the actor. That hasn’t slowed her down. In the run-up to the film’s release, she has been posting video blogs about the highlights of her day. This means, the camera has been following her through the day. “In spite of the stress, I love film promotions. When you are the face of a movie, the responsibility is on you too,” she adds.
There is a fun side to this movie’s promotions. Everyday, Sonam has been stepping out in red — which is her character’s favourite colour. “A lot of planning has gone into my clothes. I told my sister Rhea (Kapoor) that I just want to wear red for the promotions. In some of the key scenes of the movie also I wear red clothes. I wanted to have fun with my wardrobe,” says the actor.
For the first time, Sonam is paired with Dulquer Salmaan in The Zoya Factor, which is his second Hindi film after last year’s Karwaan. “Dulquer is a very nice guy. He is a really good actor. He is very confident and not someone who is trying grab attention,” says Sonam. Predominantly working in Southern cinema, Salmaan plays the captain of the Indian cricket team in the film.
In recent years, Ahuja has not got much time off work. In June, she posted holiday photos with her husband Anand Ahuja from Tokyo, and called it an anniversary-cum-honeymoon trip. After the movie releases, Sonam plans to take a three-month break. “I have signed a couple of movies. Hopefully, I will start working on them in February,” says she.