Celebrity

Our March cover star Sonam K Ahuja on her favourite books and feminist literary icons

And the next book heroine she’s bringing to life

It was my first time talking with a famous Bollywood actor, and I hadn't been sure what to expect. Someone encased in glittery make-up and a cloud of perfume, perhaps, wearing expensive designer clothes and toting a branded purse, shielded behind enigmatic dark glasses? To my delight, Sonam K Ahuja exploded all these stereotypes. Dressed casually in a blue top and comfortable pants, her eyes shining behind elegant but functional glasses, she exuded inner and outer beauty as she greeted me enthusiastically. Maybe I was biased because she was waving a copy of my newest book, The Forest Of Enchantments (HarperCollins), saying she was excited to start reading it. We bonded further over the fact that we follow each other on Twitter. Intelligent, thoughtful, down to earth, and always ready for a laugh, Sonam was a delight to converse with as we talked about everything from her memories of falling in love with reading as a child, the next book heroine she’s bringing to life, and why she’s finished with labels of every kind.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Sonam, I’m delighted to know that you’re a big reader. How did you develop this habit?

Sonam K Ahuja: My mum is a reader. You always want to be like your mum. My mother is beautiful. She used to model. I was like, “Oh my God, this beautiful woman with big glasses is reading all the time. Maybe I should read, too.” That’s how I started. Also, she used to read to us when we were younger. And she wouldn’t finish the story so we’d always want to know the end. And that was very smart.

Excerpted from ELLE's March cover story. Subscribe to the print edition here or download the digital edition here.

PHOTOGRAPHS : BIKRAMJIT BOSE

STYLING : RAHUL VIJAY

HAIR AND MAKE-UP: NAMRATA SONI

ASSISTED BY: AKSHITA SINGH, DIVYA GURSAHANI, DHVANI JHAVERI (STYLING)

LOCATION: KROME STUDIOS, MUMBAI