Heavenly Maiden

We catch up with Made in Heaven and Ponniyin Selvan I star Sobhita Dhulipala at the Blender’s Pride Glassware Fashion Tour preview in the Capital, as she tells us about working with Mani Ratnam, her upcoming Hollywood film with Brit actor Dev Patel, and her love of androgynous suits.

Sobhita Dhulipala at the panel discussion of the Blender's Pride Glassware Fashion Tour

‘Fashion can be confrontational; fashion can be political; it can also be extremely intimate,” says actor Sobhita Dhulipala at the curtain raiser of the 16th edition of Blenders Pride Glassware Fashion Tour, powered by the Fashion Design Council of India. “There are days when I dress for the person I am and at times I dress for the person I would like to be and am unable to be. There are so many forms of expression. When it is given a stage and an audience that roots for it and recognizes young talent, it’s very special.” She’s been part of the panel discussion post the fashion showcase (of young emerging designers) – along with celebrity host Kubbra Sait, designer Ashish Soni, Sunil Sethi, the Chairman of FDCI; and Kartik Mohindra, Chief Marketing Officer of Pernod Ricard India. This year’s fashion tour brings to life young, vibrant, and evolving expressions of ‘Pride and Authenticity’ through a sustainable, inclusive, and diverse world. Post-event, Lifestyle Insider caught up with the effervescent and erudite actor, who talked about her upcoming releases and why she loves handloom saris.

You recently posted photos of yourself in Dubai – how was your trip there?

I had a lot of fun. I haven’t been to Dubai unless I am shooting. I had the chance to sample a little more of the place (the trip was for Dubai Tourism). I ended up getting a tour of some of the nicest places, and discovered that the food was excellent.

Where do you like to stay in Dubai?

I’ve been there maybe a couple of times, but this time I was shooting for Dubai Tourism, so we were in Jumeirah – I loved it. I would highly recommend that people go visit the Museum of the Future – it’s super cool!

What was it like to star in the multi-cast epic Ponniyin Selvan I by the legendary Mani Ratnam?

I had a lot of fun in Ponniyin. It’s a small part, but I would do it for Mani Ratnam. He’s a master filmmaker. Just for the sheer experience of being on that set – the story comes from a 1955 book called Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki Krishnamurthy (one of the greatest novels in Tamil literature, about Chola emperor Rajaraja I) – in five volumes, which is being made into two films. The drama, the poetry, the costumes, it’s all a visual feast. And when you work with a good director, you are not excluded from the process – you will included, as I was. The film made me fall in love with dance, something I did as a kid, and made me rediscover that this was something I liked so much. There is a lot of goodness that has come my way through the course of this film.

How did you enjoy playing this historical figure genre, very different from, the very modern Made in Heaven?

I thrive on this distinction – when we play parts that are different from each other, it’s very different parts of who we are, that are activated. And this can often be confrontational. Playing Vaanathi (a Kodumbalur princess), in PSI, someone who is quick-witted, sweet, innocent, not necessary coy or sugary, but in her truthfulness, warmth, and the way she speaks her mind. I am inspired by Tara Khanna in MIH and am also inspired by Vaanathi because they are two sides of who you are. No one is just one thing. One needs to play a character in that particular context. But the characters may be different – just like who you are to your family is different from who you are to your partner or your friend. I enjoyed that diversity in my own personality through these parts.

What can we look forward to in your next, Sitara? And what about Monkey Man – your Hollywood venture? How was the experience working with Dev Patel?

Sitara is a film I did with RSVP movies and a new filmmaker, Vandana Kataria – which will be out soon enough, I hope. Monkey Man has seen some movement. I just dubbed for it today. I am excited about it. Dev is extremely passionate. This is something he’s worked on it for nearly a decade – it’s his baby. There’s an accomplished producer backing it. I am there enjoying the feeling – it’s like rain on parched skin. I am happy, inspired, giving it my 100 percent. That is my takeaway.

We love your Instagram… and the fashion! What is your personal style?

Thank you! My Instagram is as much about my mood swings as it is about anything else. We end up imitating the things and people we love. I love Indian cultural history in terms of how I carry myself. I don’t have to be bejewelled head to toe, but like to bring in elements of my ethnicity and of my background, into what I wear. I also like to experiment and take risks. Sometimes it will be great. I like the feeling of pushing myself out of that comfort zone. I cannot stand conformity. I like to be inspired in the way that inspires me.

Your favourite lehengas for the upcoming wedding season?

I don’t know if I have ever worn a lehenga – I don’t know about that, perhaps I have worn it somewhere. I always end up wearing a sari. I am obsessing over saris, and gravitate towards them.

Sobhita Dhulipala in Tommy Hilfiger

What do you like to wear when you dress up – in Westernwear?

If I were to do a pinstripe, masculine, English-looking suit – I would pair it with a sexy red lip. I like to bring two extremes together. My idea of sexy is a mix of extremes. I like mischief. I’m naturally drawn to androgynous elements. Diane Keaton is a source of inspiration for me! She’s damn cool. I like people who are a maximum version of their own character, like Diane Keaton. I look at how they live their lives and carry themselves. It’s very interesting. I am quite moved by that. I like a little bit of old-school British boy, vibe.

Since you love saris, do you like any ones in particular?

I really like handloom, and exploring the different fabrics of our country. I wish someone would make a chart and give it to me! But unfortunately, I have to Google these and learn! I like saris in different fabrics – there is something for literally every weather and mood. I can see myself in chanderi, Kanjivaram silk, lots of handloom, and saris from Andhra. If it’s a hot summer, there’s nothing more airy and ventilating than a sari, it’s so perfect. If it’s a cold Delhi December, but not too cold, a Kanjivaram silk is enough. The sari is the solution – why is no one seeing this?

How are you spending your New Year’s Eve?

Hopefully I will get to be with family and friends, close ones, whoever. Somewhere amidst nature, which calms me.

Can you please tell us about your association with the Blender’s Pride Glassware Fashion Tour?

I feel genuinely special to be included in the panel that includes such heavyweights, such as Mr Sunil Sethi, Mr Kartik Mohindra, and Mr Ashish Soni, all these people who are frontlining it and taking major decisions. Today I was the showstopper for Naushad Ali, the winner of the showcase, a (Puducherry-based) designer who is talented and original. To be able to walk for them and represent their voice, feels good, in my own little way, supporting their dream coming true. I hope more such opportunities come my way. It’s cool when something like Blender’s Pride Glassware Fashion Tour wants to be inclusive and diverse, learn and be relevant culturally. This as an intention is healthy, and I really enjoyed being a part of that.


Priya Kumari Rana

Lifestyle Insider is a kind of junction point, connecting people with diverse interests that touch on the more luxurious aspects of lifestyle – fashion, design, travel, food and spirits, art, watches and jewellery, cars, yachts, and aviation, and technology. People today don’t fit into boxes and categories. In our individual ways, we are interested in diverse themes, products, and the challenges that face our world today. You will judge how well this effort of mine caters to your passions and proclivities.

Lifestyle Insider is a showcase of all that is beautiful and luxe. Behind every creation, is a designer, chef, entrepreneur, or a design maison. I have delved into my own appreciation for objetsde luxe that I have admired over the years – be it a love of fashion from the world’s top Parisian and Italian fashion maisons and their ’90s muses, or the care that goes into sari and Indian textile collections in my own family. Growing up on four continents, as the daughter of a former Indian Ambassador, I’ve seen a remarkable array of historic places and met a myriad people. My aim is to bring my world view into this website, a curation of what I find particularly stunning, unique, and newsworthy.

It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.

A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.

Priya Kumari Rana

Founder and Editor

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