MUMBAI— She was called, even before her debut film’s release, a complete star package. After the release of “Kedarnath” early this month, Sara Ali Khan has been termed the “next superstar.” There were mixed reviews about the film, and candidly speaking, mixed reports of even its success or otherwise. But not one soul doubted that Sara was good, and that she was a super-hit!

The grounded Sara insists on a perception of her own stardom that is different, yet real, honest and relatable, when we meet up again, within three weeks, on the eve of the release of “Simmba.”

Here is honesty, Sara Ali Khan style, in her own words:

“My reaction to ‘Kedarnath,’ on a personal level, honestly, is based on the fact that I wanted to see myself on screen, though I know my parents, family, the industry, the media, and audiences are all very important. And that is because if you are not convinced about yourself, you can try till the cows come home and you will not make others believe in you!

“And now, after all the appreciation, besides the confidence it has given me, I think I feel a sense of duty if that’s the word. I know now what it takes to make you like me, so I have this duty to make you all like me throughout my life!

“I am celebrating the success of the film and my acceptance with these interviews! There is nothing more beautiful than celebrating with the media and the people who have showered so much love on me, is there? For the last three weeks, it’s been interviews all the while on either ‘Kedarnath’ or ‘Simmba,’ I even went incognito to watch my first film, wearing a burqa, with mom (Amrita Singh) both to a multiplex and a single-screen, and I had the pleasure of watching people in the audience cry during the climax, and I was like ‘Yeah! Rote raho (Keep crying)!’ If you are moved, it means that our film has connected!

“Yes, after every shot I feel I could have done something more, so Ranveer and Sushant kept telling me, ‘Yeah, you could have, that’s a normal feeling at pack-up, it is okay, and it will never stop. It’s a new day, just move on!’ The only satisfaction was that I was listening to the director.

“The media keeps asking me what my parents thought of me. So I will say (a) they will not tell me I am bad and they are going to like me no matter what, and (b) if they do tell me I am bad, I am NOT going to tell you, am I? But let me tell you that mom cried and that dad, speaking more as a father than an actor, told the media that I was much better than what he was in his debut film! And Dadi (Sharmila Tagore, Saif’s mother) messaged mom after a very long time. So if I as an individual was able to bring the family together even for 30 seconds, it means something, right?

“Coming to ‘Simmba,’ I had a blast each day. For example, during the shoot of “Aankh Marey,” Ranveer Singh told me that the safest, easiest way of entertaining the audience and making them have fun is to have fun yourself. And that’s what I did, though I don’t think I can match the energy of my hero – for he is Mr. Ranveer Singh, the biggest star in the country. The fact that Ganesh (Acharya)-sir helped me a lot with the steps helped.

“And I am a BIG fan of Rohit Shetty! Yes, I sent him three messages that I wanted to do his film, and he replied only on the third one! He is the king of commercial cinema, and as a newcomer who was working with him and his team, which has been with him for more than 10 years, it took me just an hour to settle in with the unit and Ranveer. Rohit-sir is the most hands-on and outstanding team leader. We may be playing with water balloons and having ice-cream, but his work-ethic is just amazing – even the spot-boy will know the next shot in detail, for it has been locked the previous night.

“There were times when we would shoot from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. the next day, and yet all of us were back on sets the next morning at 9 a.m. Rohit-sir is so giving, and he never shows that he is THE Rohit Shetty, which is why everyone loves him. We all feel we have invested in the film, that’s the vibe he sends out. And every two or three hours, there are amazing snacks, even at three in the morning, like samosas and maska-paav (bread and butter)!

“Yes, I know I am being called the next superstar by Rohit-sir and Ranveer Singh. They are just being nice. That there is potential in this girl is the only thing we know now. But how can you call me a star, or superstar, right now? I think you need a body to work to even have fans. Right now, I have only well-wishers who like me as a person.

“I thought that life would change the day ‘Kedarnath’ releases. It did not. I still wake up, go to the gym, eat and go to work. This morning I went for a walk on the beach. It’s all about the journey, not a destination or a goal.

“If ‘Kedarnath’ had flopped, things would be no different, for I would be working harder than before anyway. And frankly neither Mukku from that film or Shagun in ‘Simmba’ is Sara – her emotions, her thoughts are different from those diverse characters. So how does it matter if Sara laughs in one film and cries in another? And if I am taking dips in the Ganga in one film and dancing to ‘Aankh Marey’ in the other, there cannot be greater variety than that for a newcomer!”

“There is also this misconception that my father was against my joining films. He wasn’t! All he and my mom told me that I have to keep a balance, as the highs here were very highs and the lows very low! He was only particular that I had to complete my education. In fact, the real misconception here is that educated people will not become actors. Aise thodi hota hai (That’s not true)!”

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