New Delhi: Betraying no trace of the nervousness of a debutante, Sara Ali Khan is sure she doesn't want to be called the latest star kid on the block. If at all, she would like to be known as her mother's daughter, says the elder of actors Amrita Singh and Saif Ali Khan's two children.
She wanted to become a heroine at the age of four but it became a full-blown passion after she graduated from Columbia University, said Sara, who makes her Bollywood debut with Abhishek Kapoor's Kedarnath later this week.
This will be followed soon after with Rohit Shetty-directed Simmba.
"When you are four and you dream of becoming a heroine, then it is a different thing. We don't really know what we want at that age. You grow up and when you are eight, you see movies, and you feel more sure about it. Then you go to Columbia university, spend your father's money and come back with a degree and if you still want to be an actor, then it is not a hobby (chaska), it is your passion (shiddat). There is a different intensity and seriousness to it. You start preparing after that," Sara told PTI in an interview.
The Columbia returned Sara, equally comfortable in Hindi and English, is confident and comes across as real and well-spoken, often using a story or anecdote to make her point.
"You know I have never cheated in my exams, not because I am morally against it but because I am scared that I will get caught. I want to spend so much time here so I want to stay real and normal. And it is our job to act but if we do it in real life, then it would be a huge mess," she said.
Sara says her mother tried to raise her and brother Ibrahim in a real manner.
"My mother is a huge part of who I am. I look up to her a lot. It is not necessarily about being a star kid but about being her daughter. She has always led her life in a very simple and real way. And she has tried to imbibe these qualities in both me and my brother. And it is not because she has been an actor but because even before she became an actor, she was this 'bindaas' and honest person. I have lived with her for 23 years, so I hope some of it has rubbed off me," she said.
Her appearance with Saif on a chat show became popular recently. Asked whether there was any hesitation from him about her career path, Sara says there was only a sense of protectiveness.
She mentions, "He is very protective. He knows me really well and loves me. But he also knows this job very well. He is aware that there are many ups and downs. I don't think he ever tried to convince me out of it but he did tell me that I would need lot of strength and perseverance."
In the age of social media scrutiny, Sara is constantly photographed but she takes it in her stride because it comes with the job.
She adds, "You can't really pick and choose how much of the cake you want. You want all or you want nothing. Am I a normal girl who feels bloated sometimes, has a pimple on her face and has flat hair while leaving the gym and does not want to be photographed? Of course. But I can't hold that against the media. It's their job. They have been welcoming without seeing a single frame of my film. I am lucky that they want to click my pictures. Many people say they don't like being followed by the media. If I am being completely honest, as an actor, if media stops looking at you, you will not like that. It will be very daunting. So I feel, we should be careful what we wish for."
Kedarnath, a love story where Sara is paired opposite Sushant Singh Rajput, was stuck due to production issues and the newcomer says the uncertainty was terrifying.
"The only feeling you have is prayer, which is not a feeling really. There was this constant thought that everything should work out. I will be a huge liar if I say it did not affect me. It was terrifying because we were so attached to the project. I would keep calling Gattu (Kapoor) sir, every day and ask, 'Sir, sab theek hai? (everything alright?) Thank God, things worked out in the end," she said.
Simmba, with Ranveer Singh, came her way at a time when her debut was facing trouble and Sara says she would forever be grateful to the two directors for taking a chance on her.
"I am so lucky because Rohit sir did not even see a glimpse of 'Kedarnath' but he offered me this role. He gave me this opportunity at a time when no one in the industry was looking at me because 'Kedarnath' was facing issues. Both Gattu sir and Rohit sir will always be important to me," she said.
Kedarnath, set against the deluge of 2013, the film hits the theatres Friday....