Sara Ali Khan on being an Imtiaz Ali heroine in Love Aaj Kal: Wanted to experience the full journey of love at young age

Sara Ali Khan has quickly risen to the ranks since she announced her arrival in Bollywood after two consecutive hits to her credit – Kedarnath and Simmba. Her next, Imtiaz Ali-directed romantic flick Love Aaj Kal (opposite Kartik Aryan) is just about to hit the screens (on 14 February).

The actress says she had a lot of fun discovering herself in this ‘journey of love.’ “Imtiaz sir says love is something that you can never understand completely. It is a journey in itself. As an actor, I am very new, and as a girl, I am very young, and hence, I don’t have much experience. Through the film, I am living this experience, and this is the reason why I wanted to become an actor because our life is limiting. We won’t be able to live all the experiences on our own so I want to live those by playing different characters,” says Sara.

Totally aware of the ‘burden’ of being a celebrity she carries, Sara is not one to shy away from speaking her mind, no matter how controversial what she thinks is. However, off-late, she has realised ‘shooting off her mouth’ could take away attention from her work. Earlier, she had admitted of having a crush on Kartik, and expressed her desire to date him on Koffee With Karan. Soon after, Imtiaz had roped in the two for the film. She has also spoken candidly of her parents’ divorce, her father’s second marriage, and talked at length about her problems with weight and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).

“The kind of girl that I am, if I talk then there will be dhamaka (explosion) every day so it is better for me to remain quiet (laughs). If I am left on streets, I will talk non-stop. This job is such that there is so much scrutiny, whether it is brands, or interviews, or magazine shoots, or whether it is going in and out of gym, though I am thankful for it because I got love and adulation even before the release of Kedarnath. But it can get distracting if it takes away from your work, especially if you are a high-spirited, confident girl with a voice and opinion. Then you are in a potentially dangerous situation, and you need to ensure that you allow your work to speak,” says Sara.

Sara had recently confessed she was a bit affected with the response to the trailer of Love Aaj Kal, which was panned online. She was ‘hurt’ when she was criticised by the Twitter for overacting while saying a particular dialogue. She had also said she did not care if people judged her for her weight or fashion choices but it did affect her when her acting skills were panned. Does she believe the pressure of living up to the expectations is only going to get bigger from here?

“Yes, of course, there is a sense of realisation and recognition that okay, there is pressure, there is expectation. People do expect me to perform. But there are two ways of looking at that. Either I can be disappointed that I have disappointed a handful of people in a certain shot of the trailer or I can take a step back, and tell myself that you are two films old, you have been here for like a minute, and people already have expectations from you, which means you have been doing something right. I have had the opportunity, and I hope I continue to get opportunities to work with different and learned filmmakers, and also to prove myself,” she says.

Love Aaj Kal releases on the Valentine’s Day. The film depicts two different love stories – one set in 1990, and the other set in 2019. It attempts to show how the meaning of love has changed over time. “We may be living in times of swipe-left and swipe-right, Tinder. But what is interesting is, whether it is comparing over time, whether comparing today versus five to 10 years ago, the only thing that changes is the language of expression of love. What really changes is the external stuff which this film is also talking about. The freedom with which you can express your love will change, the duration that you sit and talk sweet nothings with your loved ones will change. But the basic ethos of love, and the basic feeling that governs the emotion will stand the test of time, will stand the test of profession, test of distance. Idealistic as it might be, if it doesn’t then it is not love,” says the actress.

The duo, Sara and Kartik, may have never confirmed their relationship but their off-screen chemistry has been loved by their fans. Does it help them in translating it on screen? “No, it does not. It’s only because I know Kartik that I have more fun. But it hasn’t got anything to do with our chemistry off-screen. On screen, we are playing characters with a very strong director who has a very strong idea of what his characters want to be. So I don’t think knowing Kartik or not knowing him would have anything to do with Zoe and Veer’s character. Love is a journey, and so is filmmaking, and when those journeys coincide, Imtiaz is discovering Veer through Kartik and Zoe through me. When we were on set together, what really helped was doing workshops together, reading with him, understanding how he was processing and responding to his character. But yes, I was in a good mental space with Kartik as my co-star,” she says.

In the recent past, with films like Kabir Singh and Pati Patni Aur Woh among many others, there has been a lot of discussion on actors taking responsibility for the social impact of their movies. “Your public personality and your onscreen personality are completely different. What I stand for, on Instagram, or on social media, or as Sara Ali Khan, a human being, is not what I have to stand for as different actors. That is a director’s prerogative because filmmaking is the director’s medium, and that is a writer’s job. For me, I have to just go on set with complete conviction and full honesty, and portray the characters that are displayed. I am an entertainer. Now, whether it is the consumption of alcohol or pre-marital sex or bad language, whatever it is, all these things are the things that my character indulges in the film. Do I stand for these things? I don’t know, and I don’t think that is even the point. That’s not relevant. But the point is that my character Zoe does stand for these things, and that is Imtiaz sir’s prerogative. Zoe is his brainchild, not mine. I have to just go out there, and execute my character with conviction,” she concludes.

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