Soha Ali Khan, an Oxford graduate who pursued a masters degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, says her parents didn’t particularly encourage her to take up acting but never discouraged her from following her heart either.
Soha is the youngest daughter of veteran actress Sharmila Tagore and the late Mansoon Ali Khan Pataudi.
“As far as acting is concerned, I wouldn’t say I was discouraged from acting but I was not encouraged to be an actor. My parents certainly felt my personality was not suited to acting in Hindi films and so I would be happier and better at doing something else. Also, they felt, like any parent, a little protective as there’s a lot of competition, insecurity and unpredictability in the film industry,” Soha said.
She says they always wanted her to opt for something “stable” and so she gave working at Citigroup as a private banker a try.
“It was about making my parents proud and especially for my father… I wanted to make him proud. I knew he wanted me to do something more in the corporate space. So I tried that but my heart was really not in it, which is why then I started working in films. It was a difficult choice but I knew my parents would embrace it whole-heartedly.
“Ultimately, they wanted me to be happy. They were not ones to dictate that ‘You’re not allowed to do this, or you must do this’. They believe in letting you go and let you live your life. They will be there to pick you up if you fall down,” added the actress, now a mother to a girl.
Having featured in films like Rang De Basanti, Tum Mile and Go Goa Gone, Soha has come up with her debut book titled The Perils of Being Moderately Famous, in which she talks about how she is not “really” in the league of her family members and yet not being “entirely anonymous”.
She says even though she was drawn to the acting world, there was always an emphasis on education in her family.
“Especially in my mother’s side of the family. My mother’s mother had a masters degree, which was very rare at that time for a woman. Education has always been prized in our family,” said Soha, whose mother Sharmila is related by birth to the famous Tagore family of Bengal.
“I always wanted to study. There has also been a tradition of going to the Oxford University… My grandfather, my father… So, I wanted to go there. I would like my daughter to go there too, but I wouldn’t put pressure. It’s a wonderful place to study. And more than what you get there academically, it’s the whole life of being there, the exposure to that history and architecture, making the contacts… It’s great education.”
On the career front, she hopes to be back to the screen soon though she is enjoying her motherhood phase. She gave birth to her and actor Kunal Kemmu’s daughter Inaaya Naumi Kemmu in September.