"It's An Exciting Time For Women in Bollywood": Tara Sutaria

In a Cosmopolitan exclusive interview, Tara talks passionately about her art, the archaic concept of pitting women against women, her definition of success, and more....  

Cosmopolitan: How is life post your debut film, Student Of The Year 2 (SOTY2)...

Tara Sutaria: “Well, I just finished shooting for my second film, Marjaavaan [co-starring Sidharth Malhotra], and I’m quite excited about it. Right now, I’m attending workshops for my third film, RX 100, which will go on floors in about a month’s time. So I’ve been quite busy, and I’m enjoying every moment.”


C: You started your career as a VJ for Disney Channel India. How has the journey been so far?

TS: “It’s been very interesting and unique. I started working when I was 13 years old, and, now, I’m 23! It’s been 10 years in the entertainment world, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me. I’ve grown up performing and singing, but I stopped when I was a student. I’m really looking forward to continuing that very soon.”


C: Did you always want to be an actor?

TS: “To be honest, I always wanted to be a singer. But, when I was in college, I started considering acting because I was performing in musical theatre. That’s when I realised that I love to act. Karan [Johar] helped me take the next step in that direction.”


C: How did SOTY2 happen?

TS: “I met Karan at the Dharma [Productions] office, and we were just chatting when he asked me to sing for him. I did. That’s when he said that his team was in the process of writing SOTY2, and asked me if I’d be interested in doing it. A few months later, when the script was ready, I auditioned for it and got selected for the role of
Mia Chawla.”


C: What was it like working for SOTY2?

TS: “It was so much fun! The energy on set was young and palpable. We spent a year making the film, and during the process, Tiger [Shroff] and I became close to each other. In fact, we have maintained our friendship even after the film. He’s an amazing co-star and such a genuine person. Ananya [Pandey] was great, too. She and I are both Scorpios, but such different ones at that. Over the course of the film, I had a lot of fun working with her and we complemented each other. Apart from the cast, I also got along well with Puneet [Malhotra, the director of SOTY2]. And Karan is now my go-to person for any career-related advice. So, it was like one big family. Honestly, it’s the best first-film experience anyone can ever have.”


C: You made your debut in an ensemble cast. Did you constantly feel the pressure to do better than your co-actors? 

TS: “No, not at all. We all had our own space. I don’t think any of us can do what the other does. So, I didn’t feel any pressure. I think that holds true for the rest of the cast as well.”

C: As a young actor in the industry, do you think women are getting better roles in Bollywood today than they did before?

TS: “Things are changing. Today, we have female writers, actors, directors, and producers in the industry, and they are doing such amazing and inspiring work. For example, Priyanka Chopra [Jonas]. She’s doing so well for herself, both in India and abroad. So, I’d say, it’s a very exciting time for all of us in the industry.”


C: And what about female characters? Are they as substantial as the male leads’?

TS: “I mean, I literally just finished my second film, and I’m quite certain that the role I’m playing is not something I have seen other young actors do. So, I’d say I’m lucky enough to be working in such great films. But, having said that, I’m just starting out and I’m looking forward to doing much better and bigger roles in the future.”


C: Female actors are, unfortunately, often pitted against their female contemporaries. Does that affect you?

TS: “No. I was raised with a twin sister. I have never understood this whole concept of pitting women against each other. It’s almost 2020! Everyone needs to really get over the fact that a woman has to contend against another woman. It should be a myth by now. Honestly, during SOTY2, Ananya and I had a blast. In fact, we spent so much time together that we ended up picking a lot of traits off of each other. In terms of our roles, they were quite different...there was never any competition.”


C: Sisterhood is so important, isn’t it...

TS: “Absolutely...it’s been a significant part of my upbringing. I think it’s about time we started promoting sisterhood instead of pitting girls against each other, especially in my line
of work.”


C: You don’t come from a film background. Do you think you have had to work harder to make it in the industry?

TS: “No. Everyone faces the same kind of pressure when you are doing a film, irrespective of where you come from. You have to do well and give your best, because you are as good as your last film. This applies to both people from inside and outside the industry.”



C: What’s the one cause you feel strongly about?

TS: “There are a few, TBH. First, growing up, my sister and I were taught to always give back to the community. I have performed at many concerts to raise money for different charitable concerns. Second, I’m all for adopting stray dogs. I’d do anything for animals. And of course, women empowerment. At the moment, I’m looking forward to discussing different issues concerning women in schools and colleges. The idea is to help young women feel strong and powerful about themselves. It’s the need of the hour.”


C: So, would you say you are a feminist?

TS: “Yeah, for sure. Feminism means equality, and I’m all for that.”