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Sobhita Dhulipala speaks to AJIO on coming one step closer to a greater sense of being

She’s been on a gratifying journey of self-discovery.

After transposing OTT platforms with a grace that's undoubtedly palpable, Sobhita Dhulipala, quietly but impactfully, entered a tier of actors that many spend years attaining. Neither born into Bollywood royalty nor launched under a big banner, Dhulipala made a name for herself by carefully choosing the work she wanted to leave behind.

She's calm amidst the cacophony of styling assistants, multiple video-takes and lighting changes. There are pauses before thoughts are given words. The octave of speech is just one lower than you're used to, making the listener lean closer into her world.

“I was so used to just one definition of myself, and I have outgrown some of it. Does it represent who I am today? My interior landscape has changed. So I am trying to align my life to the changes that have happened within.”

Here are a few excerpts from AJIO's conversation with her. 

Interestingly, you spoke about what it is you seek. Was it different earlier? Has it changed now?

I grew up very, very geeky in Visakhapatnam, and I remember being enamoured by the idea of fashion. I was led by my curiosity, I took part in a pageant, and I won Pond's Femina Miss India (2013). I didn't even know what it meant to be a fashion model and much less a fashion model in India. I thought I'd like it, but it wasn't enough, which forced me to explore what else I could do in this three-year window that I had given myself. After winning, I thought I'd feel a sense of fulfilment, but I did not.

I felt like I wanted to have a sense of agency. So I was backpacking and auditioning—that was when I familiarised myself with acting. Through the course of auditioning, I fell in love with acting. 

What is your relationship with your personal style?

I really, really like fashion, but I like it like an admirer. I don't assume I know it all. In the beginning, until I had a sense of self, there have been times people have said I was dressing in a way that was not fashionable. I didn't question the stylists because I didn't completely understand who I was. My opinion has changed with time, especially in the last four years. I came into my own, and that has had a significant influence on everything. I know what kind of coffee I like, the things I speak about or the kind of pursuits I have in my life. They're all in alignment with who I am on the inside, and it's cohesive. Obviously, it's a journey.

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What would you look for besides comfort when buying a pair of jeans?

I like jeans that sit well on the hips, but I gravitate towards a flared cut. There is something so bohemian about '70s style denim, which I connect with, maybe because of my year of backpacking. I like a classic blue wash. There's a utilitarian quality about it. Jeans were worn because you could work in them—like gardening, painting the house, washing the car, with a kind of abandon. I think the idea was always to be utility forward, so I think that's an element that must remain. Jeans should be left in the traditional form, and things around them should be used to dress them up.

Of all the looks you've had in the shoot, which one did you like best?

There's one look with the blue shirt, denim jacket, and diamonds. Because the jeans are distressed and slightly grungier, it was such a nice offset to have expensive-looking jewels because it sort of merges two extremes. There's a softness and femininity with the jewellery, and the heels and the jeans had a certain Yang, so that's a nice balance.

Favourite pair of jeans?

Anything flared.

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Photographed by R Burman
Styled by Priyanka Kapadia
Words by Rujuta Vaidya 

Shirt: GAS 
Denim Jacket: Levis
Jeans: Scotch & Soda.  

Hair and Makeup: Mitesh Rajani/ Feat Artists, Videographer: Indra Joshi/Feat Artists, Styling assistant: Naheed Driver,  Art Director: Snigdha Kulkarni, Creative and Visuals Director: Jay Modi Production: Imran Khatri Production