Soha Ali Khan: Of big shoes and small feet

Mumbai, Dec 7 (IANS) "She's woken up," Soha Ali Khan exclaimed before she hung up to attend to her newfound world of motherhood. Happy balancing it with what she calls her "moderately famous" public life, she says she always knew she had "impossibly large shoes to fill" with her "small feet".

As the youngest daughter of a cricket legend like Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Bollywood veteran Sharmila Tagore, sister of actor Saif Ali Khan and sister-in-law of actress Kareena Kapoor Khan, Soha often had a thought or two about "not really being in that league but not being entirely anonymous".

In her debut book "The Perils of Being Moderately Famous", she has opened up about it all.

"Writing a personal memoir like this was very interesting for me as I've talked about things like working in an industry like this (Bollywood), being compared to my mother or my brother, why I chose to get into films, what it's like to be me, to belong to a family of superstars, not really be in that league but not to be entirely anonymous... How people know who you are but they really know who you are because of who you ae related to.

"It has a frustrating side to it, and then you can even laugh at it and embrace it as an identity. I think I've tried to do the latter," Soha, a royal princess and actress in her own right, told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

With projects like "Khoya Khoya Chand", "Rang De Basanti", "Tum Mile" and "Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns" in her filmography, Soha, 39, may not have been hugely successful as an actor, but asserts she has carved her own identity.

"I think it's especially (about) living in India where fan following for cricket and films is massive, and the fact that really both my parents have excelled in their chosen fields.

"I'm certainly a working actor and have lots of things going on, but I think the comparison comes in with someone like my father and mother who have been superstars in their fields.

"My book has a chapter 'Big Shoes, Small Feet'. For me, those shoes are impossibly large to fill. And I do have small feet. So, beyond a point, it's not even something you are trying to do," quipped Soha, who is confident her humorous streak will find its fans.

She hopes her debut book, published by Penguin India, will clear up people's misconceptions about her.

"When most people meet me, they are surprised by who I am. I think people have a lot of pre-conceptions about what it's like to belong to a family like mine and how it's like to have a royal tag and be a princess, to be an actress... I thought maybe when I write the book in a funny way, one could clear up those misconceptions."

Her childhood, she says, was also "ordinary" -- unlike what many would like to believe.

"I am the youngest in the family, so by the time I was born, my mother wasn't working in films so much, my father had retired from professional cricket. So, Amma and Appa would come for parent-teacher meetings, and my father helped me in completing my essays for college, filled out my visa application forms.

"We lived in Delhi, not Mumbai... So they were always ordinary parents."

Being just that -- an ordinary parent -- herself is something Soha is currently enjoying.

"She has woken up," Soha said of her and husband Kunal Kemmu's daughter Inaaya Naumi Kemmu, who was born on September 29.

Returning to the call a few minutes after hanging up, Soha had a hearty laugh over how "the baby controls everything now".

"I am such a control freak myself, so it's really odd to be not in control of when I eat, how much I sleep, if I can go to the gym now," she said, adding how her mind is constantly with her little one.

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at


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