‘I do not attach too much importance to fame’

Debarati Palit
Sunday, 31 December 2017

Soha Ali Khan talks about her debut book, The Perils of Being Moderately Famous, why she has no qualms accepting that she is moderately famous, and motherhood

Not many know that Soha Ali Khan is an Oxford graduate who pursued a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science before entering Bollywood. In fact, Soha is one of the most highly educated and well-read personalities in the film industry. So it came as no surprise when the actress recently launched her debut book — The Perils of Being Moderately Famous, in Mumbai, which talks about various chapters in her life, including family, love, acting and motherhood.

Known for films like Rang De Basanti, 99 and Khoya Khoya Chand, Soha, during the launch of her book, mentioned that as far as acting is concerned, she wasn’t discouraged from getting into the field but was not encouraged either. “My parents certainly felt my personality was not suited to acting in Hindi films and so I would be happier and better off doing something else,” she said.   
Here’s more from the actress:

What prompted you to write The Perils of Being Moderately Famous?
It was publisher Penguin’s idea. They told me, ‘We have heard that you love to read and because you are so much into books, you would be interested in writing too.’ They were open to me writing anything — fiction or non-fiction. Till then, I had not considered writing even though my family and friends motivated me to do that, saying, ‘You write well.’ I thought of writing the introduction and sending it to the people I know, to get their response. They loved it.

Why the title The Perils of Being Moderately Famous?
In an industry like Bollywood, there are some ‘properly famous’ — the real superstars. They are recognised across the world, they are constantly being ranked at the top in their game and their popularity measured. And they have millions of followers.

From this perspective, there are many properly famous people in my family. Amongst them I have held my head high, I have my achievements, credibility and films to my credit. I believe, in my achievements, be it education or my rankings, I am moderate. I am neither a superstar nor totally anonymous.

While most of us live in a bubble and refuse to accept our failures and weaknesses, you seem to have accepted the fact that you are moderately famous...
That’s because I do not attach too much importance to fame. If you think being famous is no big deal, then being moderately famous isn’t a bad deal either. I think it comes from the sense of self and awareness. There are other things in the world apart from being famous or being a celebrity or having lots of money. You definitely need a certain amount of money to be independent which is invaluable.

But being super famous isn’t part of my agenda. I feel I have achieved a good work-life balance, where I can travel and be anonymous, yet enjoy the privileges of being somewhat famous.

Which chapter was the toughest to write?
Writing about work was most challenging. I wanted to write in a systematic manner, so there’s one chapter on love, another on relationships, then on education, work and so on. I wanted to be honest and humorous. The question was, when you have so many different experiences, how do you write that in a few thousand words?

How’s motherhood treating you?
Apart from the obvious physical changes, it definitely takes a toll on you. I think having a baby is a huge learning experience and it’s the most challenging thing that I have done ever.
Everyday Inaaya (my daughter) is teaching me something but the one thing that she has taught me the best is patience. As much as you want to tell her or control what she should eat, how much she should eat, when to sleep, she has her own plans. It’s definitely wonderful and fulfilling but it can be frustrating and challenging with the sleepless nights that women go through. It’s been 84 days and I haven’t slept well. Everything is about her as I am either feeding her or attending to her.

Every daughter wants to inherit a quality of her mother when she steps into motherhood. Which quality of your mother you want to inherit?
My mother has always encouraged us to read and I am doing the same with Inaaya. Of course, she is too small for that, but I have been putting books in her hand and reading out to her. Also, I let her play by herself or entertain herself. Usually, when the baby is crying, 500 people come to entertain the baby. I would like her to learn to be a little independent and calm.

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