Sonam Kapoor on her favourite novels, why she’d like to meet Tagore, and her plans to launch a book club
Plus, the books she and husband Anand bond over
Sonam Kapoor once wanted to be a librarian, just so she could be around books. No kidding. The actor has been an avid reader since she was a kid, and the love of reading continues even today. These days, she manages to cram in about five books a month — pretty impressive for a super busy A-list Bollywood celebrity. She even has plans to launch her own book club so she can discuss literature with other nerds.
We met Sonam at the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image’s Words to Screen Market 2018 (a platform that connects publishers and writers to film production companies) and chatted about all things books.
ELLE: What are you reading right now?
Sonam Kapoor: Because of Anthony Bourdain’s passing, I’m re-reading Kitchen Confidential again. I enjoyed it the first time and I’m enjoying it again. I was trying to understand him better. His death was a huge shock to me.
ELLE: You’re a big fan of classics. What is it about them that you love?
SK: I love the writing, it’s very descriptive, entertaining, and at the same time, there’s a romance to it. Whether it’s a Moby Dick or a Jane Eyre. There’s a rhythm to the way they’re written and it completely transports you to another world. I also really like fantasy fiction.
ELLE: Which are some of your favourite fantasy fiction reads?
SK: Off the top of my head, I like Stardust (by Neil Gaiman), I love Lord of the Rings (by JRR Tolkien), and when I was much younger, the Harry Potter series (by JK Rowling).
ELLE: Who is your favourite couple from literature?
SK: Does it have to be a happy couple? I want to say Mr Darcy and Elizabeth (from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice) but it’s so boring. Okay, this is a really difficult question. But I do like Mr Darcy and Elizabeth a lot.
ELLE: Do you and your husband Anand Ahuja bond over books?
SK: My husband reads but he is into non-fiction and philosophy, so we bond over philosophy. He reads about business… but he’s a slow reader because he has to read so much in his job. I finish about five books a month on an average. I have very bad eye-sight because of it.
ELLE: Which are some of the books that have stayed with you?
SK: One of them is The Pregnant King by Devdutt Pattanaik and Being Hindu by Hindol Sengupta. Especially in a time when there are so many polarising views on so many different things. It’s important to read books which have correct knowledge about Hinduism and what Indian culture was like back then.
ELLE: Which author would you like to have dinner with someday?
SK: Rabindranath Tagore. Because he knew India when it was trying to be utopia. I just want to understand what people like him, Sarojini Naidu, etc, wanted India to look like. I love my country. And I feel like the people who built India in the beginning with their literature, art, and political views had a certain outlook and design for what they wanted India to be. And I think we’ve lost our way very badly at this point. I would love to speak to them and ask what do they look at India as — is it the utopia they thought it would be?
ELLE: Your favoutire book is the Mahabharata, right? If Bollywood, were to adapt it to a film, would you be interested?
SK: The Mahabharata is the best fiction ever (laughs). If it was to be a film, why not? I just feel like the men have a lot more to do than the women. But in a book like the Ramayana, the women have more to do, to a certain extent.
ELLE: What did you grow up reading?
SK: I read all of Nancy Drew (by Carolyn Keene), all of Enid Blyton’s books — The Famous Five, The Secret Seven — and even Hardy Boys (by Franklin W Dixon). I was 12 or 13 then.
ELLE: What did you move on to?
SK: Exodus by Leon Uris, The Godfather (by Mario Puzo), Ayn Rand, and classics like Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Pride and Prejudice. When I was younger, I used to enjoy reading anything and everything, fiction and non-fiction. Now, I’ve started reading a lot of biographies. Last year, I read When Breath Becomes Air (by Paul Kalanithi). It impacted me a lot. I like a lot of Indian authors as well.
ELLE: How do you find the time to read?
SK: On aircrafts, before going to bed, in between takes… Actors spend a lot of time waiting. So, instead of being on my phone, I read.
ELLE: Do you have a huge book collection at home?
SK: Yes but because I’m trying to save the environment etc, I read a lot on my iPad and Kindle. It was difficult making the switch. But with a Kindle, you can read in any light. So it’s hard for me to go back to physical books even though I love the smell of books. I really miss shopping at book stores. My mom used to take me to Strand’s book fair every time and I used to go crazy buying books.