Sara Ali Khan is a bit of a mystery. Check out her Instagram handle and you see a smattering of photographs posted infrequently. Most include her mother, siblings and some, her father. Google her for background and biography, and you come across basic information that she graduated in 2016 from Columbia University in New York. Her major is not clear, nor is there much information about schooling or undergraduate studies (which were, presumably, in London). There’s a photo of Sara, beaming in blue graduation robes at the prestigious university, looking every bit like an eager fresh graduate, and nothing like the daughter of a celebrity.
Royalty aside, which today is more a marketable commodity and branding opportunity than everyday reality, Sara has grown up steeped in wealth and comfort. Yet, the manner in which she carries herself, as can be deciphered from airport photos and casual paparazzi snaps, doesn’t carry pretence or the burden of impending stardom. There’s a quiet charming confidence about her. Which is why, when the teaser of Kedarnath dropped online, there was a positive buzz around her. She looks fresh and pleasant, every bit a debutante. Not too many raving magazine interviews or cover shoots nor a host of ‘spotted’ pictures of her in carefully coordinated designer gear, has made Sara’s first step in Hindi cinema a welcome break from other hyper-publicized star kids. The need to be seen and talked about all the time doesn’t seem to drive this young actor, which is refreshing.
Looking back at conversations and interviews with Saif Ali Khan, one can safely say that the actor is a proud father of a smart, intelligent daughter. The author recalls Saif indulgently saying that Sara is responsible and diligent. She was moving her student dorms once, and he had offered to hire out a cabbie to help with the shifting. Sara refused, stating instead that she would do it along with her mates from college by herself. While Ibrahim is the quintessential fun loving boy, who would rather play sports than study, Sara had her eyes set on an esteemed university degree.
At 24, she is set to keep aside the Columbia education to make her film debut. As her first film, Kedarnath, hit a glitch last year when its producers fell out, Sara’s debut has been delayed. Yet, she has not gone on a frenzy of publicity seeking opportunities and random photo-ops. If at all, the occasional family photo of Sara tying a rakhi to her half-brother Taimur, and posing with Kareena Kapoor Khan, makes for a pleasant break from the monotony of professionally managed star social media handles.
Sara is known to be close to her mother, Amrita Singh. When her parents divorced, the responsibility of parenting, as is often the case, came on to Amrita alone. Therefore, to her, ensuring a secure and comfortable life for her mother is a top priority. Given this reality, despite the fact that she is Saif Ali Khan’s daughter and part of the Pataudi royal family, Sara has focused on acting. It's one profession that holds a huge degree of uncertainty but also brings a considerable chance of lucrative success. Honouring her father’s wish to first complete a quality education, her debut has been patient. It’s no secret that star kids get courted to enter films right from their teens. It is tempting too, a job where one gets to play dress up every day, quite literally. Yet, like some star kids of the current generation, Sara has completed the essential journey of a college education. Studying abroad and living on your own makes one grow up and mature quickly. Now, taking on films, and making a start with Kedarnath, which is built on a gripping premise, seems like a smartly thought out move. Like Janhvi Kapoor, Sara must have had a host of scripts to choose from. Kedarnath is a promising choice for a first film, an intense romance set in the face of natural calamity. Then there’s Simmba, a typical commercial masala film with Rohit Shetty. Two leading stars, Ranveer Singh and Sushant Singh Rajput, become her first co-actors. That’s good learning for a new actor.
Often spotted at health food eateries in Bandra and Khar, where she resides, Sara likes to read. She has developed the reading habit like her father, Saif and aunt, Soha. She has worked out with the best trainers and gone through the rounds of expensive grooming that is inbuilt with a film debut these days. Having fulfilled all the necessary bits to become an actor, Sara will now face the pressure of being judged and assessed for her work onscreen. Fortunately, for her, the understated online presence and PR machinery have become an advantage in present times of celebrity overexposure and fatigue. It does seem like she wants to let her work do the talking. As her dad, Saif states, she is drawn toward content-driven stories. Good thing is, now content-driven films are pretty much the only winners. If Sara Ali Khan turns out to be as good an actor as she is attractive, then this is definitely the ideal time for her to make a start in acting.