Sanah Kapur’s first on-screen appearance was when she was just four. It was the first episode of her father, actor Pankaj Kapur’s TV show Mohandas B.A.L.L.B and her job was cut out for her: she had to enter the frame, screaming. More than two decades, a big launch and a few misfires later, Sanah Kapur is gearing for the release of her next, Saroj Ka Rishta on September 16. This time, she says, she is ready to “roar.”
Born to actors Pankaj Kapur and Supriya Pathak, Sanah made her debut with the 2015 release Shaandaar, which starred her stepbrother Shahid Kapoor. The film sank at the box office and Sanah quietly followed it up with her next, Khajoor Pe Atke, which also didn’t give her career the necessary push.
In a short span of time, Sanah has already seen highs and lows of the industry, but she insists she is still trying to “figure out her way”, as she didn’t grow up getting “trained” to tackle the roller coaster that is Bollywood.
“I don’t think we ever discussed films as such at our dinner table. Our dinner table conversations were generally, ‘What’s going to be at breakfast tomorrow?’ We appreciate each other’s work, but don’t sit and talk about it as a routine. When we do, it is a rare conversation, which usually goes for the entire night where we talk about a particular film or performance,” Sanah tells indianexpress.com.
The actor says the environment she grew up in was far removed from a traditional “film family”; there were no parties, no hobnobbing with the stars. She had parents who did credible work and naturally, film sets became her safe space, her second home.
“I feel I didn’t grow up in a film family at all. My parents never went to film parties, were never in the media. They did their work, came back and let their work do the talking. I didn’t grow up surrounding by ‘filmy’ people. I grew up going to hill stations for holidays and on sets. At one point mom and dad were running a production company.
“I did my first role when I was four because dad was shooting a show called Mohandas. In the episode, I had to come and scream. I was told I threw a lot of tantrums! That was the first and the last time for me. Growing up on a set was great. Even today, I feel that’s the place I am most comfortable, when I face the camera, I feel at home,” she says.
When Sanah was growing up in the 90s, the work of her parents wasn’t something that her school friends were hooked on to. But in the early 2000s, Sanah experienced a 180 degree turn when her friends realised her mother was the actor behind the fan favourite character Hansa in Khichdi.
“When I was in middle school, Hansa had happened, and it had become quite a rage. At that time during the annual day functions, everyone would ask me to be Hansa! In school, I used to just hate it because everyone kept wanting me to be Hansa!” Sanah laughs, looking back.
“I was terrible (at it) and I didn’t want to do my mom’s role because that’s insane pressure. I didn’t participate in a lot of annual days only because I didn’t want to be Hansa!”
Even though films or the functioning of the industry weren’t part of regular conversations, Sanah was still surrounded by artistes. Naturally, her world view was shaped by that environment and hence, every time she met someone who wasn’t from film background, her curiosity would get sparked.
“I remember I used to think that acting is the only profession in the world, when I was very young, I would ask people, ‘Oh you parents do something different?!’ If they would tell me their parents were doctors or a businessman, I wanted to know what that world was like because it was completely alien. People were curious about my world, they thought it was glamourous, but it was absolutely normal!”
While she witnessed the firsthand effect of Hansa, she was also a mute spectator to what happened when a cop had a word with her father at a time when he starred on Office Office–a popular show which chronicled country’s corrupt system through satire.
“I remember this one time a cop stopped our car. When you get stopped by a policeman, you feel (scared) that something has happened. I don’t know the reason why he stopped us, but I do remember him talking to my dad about the show, positively. My father told him that he is just showing different kinds of corruption. He was a sweet cop, not at all corrupt. But I knew that what my parents did, reached out to a lot of people,” she said.
Away from the film world, Sanah says her family was homely, with her parents’ specific insistence on her not missing out on regular, everyday life experiences just because of their popularity.
“One time I really wanted to see the Dussehra celebration, watch Ravan burn, but I could not go because my parents could not take me. But my parents were very involved in our lives. So, my dad, who never wanted us to feel that we are missing out on an experience, actually made the effigy at home.
“He made it with firecrackers, sticks and clothes. We burnt it and actually continued the tradition for about ten years! As we grew up, we would together make the effigy and burn it! This was my family. Not filmy, very real,” she adds.