Sonal Chauhan had a Bollywood debut that many would dream about. The Emraan Hashmi starrer Jannat was not only a box office hit but its songs continue to be popular among all age groups.
The pretty actor is now all set to make her digital debut with ZEE5’s Skyfire. The sci-fi thriller also stars Pratiek Babbar, Jisshu Sengupta and Jatin Goswami. The first episode of the web series was released on Wednesday.
On the eve of the release, Sonal spoke exclusively to indianexpress.com about her digital debut, lack of strong roles in Bollywood, being known as the Jannat girl and more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
What made you choose Skyfire as your digital debut?
Well, I was being offered a lot of roles on digital, but as we all know, initially there were all these bold kinds of shows being made. I was very clear that I don’t want to do that. But in the last one and a half year, there has been a drastic change in content. Some are even of international level. When Skyfire came my way, I was so intrigued. Also, I had a meaty role and although I am the only girl in the series, I have an equal part like the boys. It is a wonderful show.
From the look of it, the series seems quite different. Do you feel people will be able to relate to it?
Totally. I think it is very relevant in today’s time. I did know about how the weather can be manipulated by authorities during crucial times. But I never realised that it could be used in a negative way, even as a weapon of mass destruction. It is important that we as humans should know about it. And so the audience will all be intrigued by the subject of the show.
You are playing a historian in the series. Any special preparation you did for the role?
Well, I might not have played a historian before but that is just a part of the character. She is otherwise a strong headed girl, who always fights for the right. She is fearless and doesn’t falter even when she has to stand against powerful people. So there’s much more to her, and that was more exciting to play.
You are the only girl in the boy’s team. How was your experience working with Jishu, Pratiek and Jatin?
It was great. I never even got to realise that I was the only girl during the shoot. And neither did they make me feel like that. Every one of them is super talented and fun. I really enjoyed working with them.
You are still remembered as the Jannat girl. How does that make you feel?
Jannat was my first film and it will always be special. So it’s heartwarming whenever someone calls me Zoya or Jannat girl. And honestly, I can never ever complain about it. I got so much love for my first project, something that many achieve only after a great body of work. But I would want them to appreciate my other work too and give me the same kind of love.
Even after a hit debut, what do you think was the reason for lesser opportunities for you in B-town?
I really don’t have an answer to this. Wherever I went after the film, people would ask me what’s next, and I was clueless. Jannat was such a big hit and most importantly, people loved my work. I think that love kept me going and made me still believe in myself and my work. I was appreciated for my work, but I guess I wasn’t as aggressive as one has to be in the industry.
Was it difficult to deal with the low phase?
Of course, it was really frustrating. And as I told you, I knew that people have liked me. I did everything and yet I would be left wondering what else do I need to do. I won’t deny that I didn’t get offers. But they were not the kind of films that I wanted to do. There have been many who made a career out of it but I was not comfortable just showing my skin, or basically being objectified. There came a time when I told my manager that I am mentally prepared to never do a film again but I will not do something that I cannot do justice to.
Didn’t anyone advise you to take up reality shows then?
(Laughs) I keep getting these offers every year. But I am not mentally ready to do it. I want to act and not pretend to act.
With a change in content consumption and rise of the digital medium, do you feel things are finally going north in the industry?
It does look promising and digital definitely is the future ahead. Honestly, I have been a Netflix junkie for a long time. When it was to come to India, I was a little apprehensive of how the audience will take it. But that hurdle has been crossed easily. Now everyone has a mobile phone that they use to consume content. Also, the audience is now appreciating intelligent content. I am really happy as it is not just a great time for actors but technicians and creative people too. There is a lot more work and people are willing to work with everyone. It is only the talent that is working and not your last name.
I am on the verge of signing another web series but I really can’t talk about it. But you will definitely see more of me in the coming days.