When Tara Sutaria started out—in Disney shows as a 14-year-old, a decade ago, and then in musical dramas in college—she had little idea that Bollywood would be next. She had been a thespian all her life—singing and performing for as long as she can remember, but taking up acting, and that too in the movies, was new even for her! Today, she's a year into her impressive metamorphosis from a child artist into a leading lady, faring smoothly, and ready for whatever's next. And our coverstar isn’t afraid of failure. “Earlier, I would wonder if I was afraid,” she tells us, “but now I know that I’m not! I’m not the kind of person who'd let failure get to me.” Also, her formative years as a performer have stood her in good stead. “I was painfully shy growing up, but being on stage helped me open up," she explains. “Haven’t I become so much more chatty in the last one year?!” she laughs.
When Tara first sat down with Cosmo, exactly 12 months ago, she was just getting started in the film business, having finished her second release, Marjaavan, after a rousing debut the same year with Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year 2. Over the course of this one year—largely a pandemic-struck paradox that is both fleeting and yet the longest year ever for most of us—she has made steady progress, both personally and professionally. Tara has gone from “hoping to find someone soon” the last we spoke, to “having a wonderful time” on the relationship front now. From “wishing to work in a musical” to “getting to sing” in her next movie. There is also a smattering of lockdown-induced realisations on the side—the 24-year-old has had little to complain, and much to learn. The Young actor shares with Cosmo all that she’s looking forward to. As we chat, this time remotely and across cities, the young actor shares with Cosmo all that she’s looking forward to—in life, her career, and the world at large!
Cosmo: Welcome back, Tara! So, how has life changed since we spoke last?
Tara Sutaria: “Thank you! I was so new to all this back then...to the industry, to the many things that were taking place in my life! I’ve got a bit more perspective since, about who I am, both as a person as well as an artist. Also, I understand the business better now...and what I want and don’t want. I’ve signed a couple more films, and have had a ball working! But then the pandemic brought everything to a standstill. And that changed things drastically, both professionally and personally...like for everyone else the world over.
But despite it being such a bane, it has been a huge boon as well—because we finally got time to do things that we were putting off earlier. We found time to sit with ourselves and introspect, time to be home, with our loved ones. I’m very grateful for it all. I’ve also realised how important it is to live and do things in the moment. As we can see, life is very unpredictable!"
C: And how have you been keeping yourself busy during this time?
TS: “I’ve gone back to doing charcoal sketching. I used to do it growing up, but the last three years have been crazy, work-wise. It was good to get back to it. I’m singing in one of my next movies, and I'm very excited about that, so I’ve also started pursuing music more fiercely now. I’ve also found new love for cooking and baking. And I’m told I’m really good and should start a restaurant of my own. So, I’m seriously considering that!”
C: The last we spoke, you were keen to work in a musical...
TS: “I knoww! So, in a way, it has come true!”
C: And you were also single and hoping to find someone. Any progress there?
TS: “[Laughs] Lets just say that things have been wonderful! It’s been a great time for me personally....and professionally.”
C: Okay, hint taken. But what are the qualities you look for in a partner?
TS: “I think pretty much the usual stuff. Like, honesty is most important! And a sense of humour. It’s such an underrated quality, especially now a days when everything in the world generally has become so serious! It’ll be nice to have someone to laugh with.”
C: You're a self-confessed, hopeless romantic. What's the most romantic thing you've done?
TS: “You know, I am the kind of person who wants to make every day really romantic, not wait for a special occasion. And I find the old-fashioned things more appealing and more personal. I like writing letters, sending flowers, gifting them a book that I really like...that kind of stuff. I’m reading The 50 Greatest Love Letters Of All Time right now, and I keep taking down notes.”
C: Tell us about your growing up years...
TS: “I was a painfully shy child! I wouldn’t open my mouth, ever! I grew up with a twin sister, and in retrospect, the stuff the two of us did was actually very different from our friends'. For instance, for most kids, the perfect weekend would be, like, going to a birthday party or taking a trip, but we wanted to go watch a play or a musical. And we were constantly training—be it dance or music. We found those kind of activities exciting.”
C: So did being on stage at young age help shed that shyness?
TS: It did! So much! If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I’d be half as confident as I am today. Your formative years really help you become the person you are in adulthood. Also, I used to, invariably, be the youngest person in the group, and that helped me understand the adult world at a very young age; see things from a perspective that most others don’t. Now my job involves meeting a lot of people, on a daily basis. But the transition, in that sense, hasn’t been difficult.”
C: And the adjustment to the constant public gaze and scrutiny?
TS: “I think it was most drastic last year, just after my debut. It was such a big launch, and everyone was really talking about and looking forward to the film. That was a big change. I wasn’t used to social media being used the way it has been in the last few years. It wasn’t around much when I was a teenager. And there was no pap culture!"
C: So did you have to suddenly grow up?
TS: “We'd had that talk. Karan [Johar] had told us that starting now, we would need to be more careful about what we say, and what we do. But that wasn’t an issue for me ever, anyway. My mum is an etiquette teacher, so we grew up being groomed that way—what’s right to say and do, and what’s not, etc. So, thankfully, I don’t say too many wrong things! [Laughs]. But certain things did take some getting used to. Like selfie requests! I used to wonder how people were okay coming into your personal space, like when you are in the middle of a meal, and ask for pictures? It was all very new for me.”
Creative Direction: Zunaili Malik;
Photographs: Rahul Jhangiani
Hair and Make-Up: Shraddha Inder Mehta; Fashion Stylist: Meagan Concessio