THE TALENTED ACTRESS ON HER CINEMATIC JOURNEY, TURNING POINT, COMEDY AND LATEST PROJECT by ASJAD NAZIR She may have only been in the film industry for five years, but Kriti Sanon has carved herself a place in the hearts and minds of Bollywood fans with a series of winning turns. Her most recent release Luka Chuppi clocked up big numbers at the box office and won rapidly-rising star Kriti more well-deserved praise. The in-demand actress now has three further high-profile film releases this year, which will only add to her fast-growing star power and global fan base. Eastern Eye caught up with Kriti to talk about her time in the movie industry, hopes for the future and inspirations. Was acting something that was part of your master plan? No. To be honest, I didn’t know I could act. I was into dancing and I’m good at it, but acting was not something I had tried out. Sometimes I feel destiny has its own way of leading you to your dreams and making you realise what you want to do. That is pretty much how it happened for me. When I was in my second year of college, I started modelling as a hobby and did some TV commercials. I realised I liked being in front of the camera and could act. That is how I dreamed of becoming an actress and moved to Mumbai. Kriti came from a modelling background You have been getting better with each film. How do you look back on the past five years in the industry? Thank you for the compliment, Asjad. And that is precisely how I wanted to go ahead because I feel it is important for me to keep growing and improve. That is the only way of sustaining yourself. I have not received any formal training or been a part of the theatre or anything that could help me find that pace for acting. So it has all been spontaneous and instinctive. I have tried to perform my best. How much has working with good actors and crew helped? When you are on film sets you learn a lot of things from people around you. If you are really passionate about something, you have the urge to learn and understand everything about it, you will work on yourself and will try to perform your part best in the film. You want to improve with each movie. That is how I approach every scene. I have figured it out with time and each film. Has finding the right roles and not being typecast been the biggest challenges? It is a challenge because you can get typecast or stuck in one genre. But I feel it is a great time to be in this industry because a lot of substantial and meaty parts are being written for women. There are many good scripts nowadays where girls aren’t just singing, dancing or have insignificant roles. Actresses are demanding interesting and substantial parts, which can help them get a platform to experiment and showcase their talent. I am also hungry for good roles and want to play diverse characters. Kriti did an item number in the recently released big-budget movie Kalank How much of a turning point was your wonderful performance in Bareilly Ki Barfi? I feel it is one of the major milestones in my career. People look at me as this glamorous and urban girl because I’m born and brought up in Delhi, and I broke their perception with my character of a small town girl in Bareilly Ki Barfi. I feel fortunate that director Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, writer Nitesh Tiwari and the producers saw the actor in me, over the characters that I had played before. That is what you need, that someone to believe in the actor in you. I feel that hair, makeup and costumes can transform you into anybody. You can look like whichever character you are playing, but the question is, are you able to play the part? Bareilly Ki Barfi got an amazing response… Bareilly Ki Barfi is a very special film for me. When the film came out I was overwhelmed with the response. I was so glad I was appreciated for my performance, including from those who felt I was not the right cast. It was important for me because I was stepping into a new world and I did a character I had not done before. It provided me with a lot of new opportunities. That made way for Luka Chuppi and Arjun Patiala. You are super busy, but did you get a chance to enjoy the success of Luka Chuppi? (Smiles). Of course I did. We organised a party to celebrate our success. I enjoy the appreciation I receive from social media and when some fans bump into me at the airport or other places. When they start telling me how much they loved a film – those moments are really precious. That appreciation just puts a smile on your face and is all you need. For me, enjoying success also means just being happy on set. You play rebellious girls really well, but are you like that in real life? I don’t think that I can call myself a rebellious girl. But I think that I am a strong-headed person who has firm opinions. I voice my viewpoints very often. For example, if I don’t find something is right, I speak out. I’m also someone who questions everything and just doesn’t go by the rules. Where does that inner power come from? I have got that from my mother because she is also the kind of person who would question things. There were times when she was treated in a particular way or asked to do certain things, which may be her brother was not asked to do. So she would question that and say, ‘why would you do that, just because I am a girl?’ So, I think that awareness of putting your foot down and not following things blindly comes to me from my mother. This trait attracts me to certain strong-headed characters that I have played on screen. Comedy is the most challenging genre, but you are natural at it; what is the secret? I don’t think I am natural at comedy, but I am surely trying to get better. I enjoy watching comedy movies and that is why I like being a part of them. It is definitely tough to make people laugh. I think comedy, for me, is all about reaction at the right time. I think comedy has its own rhythm and beat. Timing in comedy is very important and I understand it a little better now. But I still think there is a lot I have to learn. You are currently working on Housefull 4 with some great comedy talent… Working with actors like Akshay Kumar and Riteish Deshmukh in Housefull 4, I feel like it is so difficult to do comedy. The way they pull it off with ease, I do feel like a baby on set, (laughs). There is a lot to learn from them, which I am trying to do. But I do enjoy the genre and think it is very important when you are on a comedy film set to have the right energy and be happy while shooting. When you feel low and carry that energy into the scene, I don’t think it is possible to give your best. This is very tricky because every day may not be a good day for you. There are times when you’re going through personal issues, may have had a fight with someone, be unwell or god knows what else. Kriti will be part of an all-star cast in Housefull 4 How do you cope with that? When you are on set and in front of the camera, you have to be happy, otherwise, it shows in your acting. I think that switching off from the person you are and becoming the character you are playing, is probably one of the toughest parts, but you have to manage. What can we expect from your next film Arjun Patiala? Arjun Patiala is a different kind of comedy. It’s a spoofy comedy, which I don’t think has been done much in the industry before. It has been done a lot in the west, for example, parody movies like Deadpool and Scary Movie. Arjun Patiala is a fresh take on comedy. We are making fun of how a buddy cop film is like while making the same buddy cop movie. So I think, it is a film that is really gonna crack you up. Tell us more… Arjun Patiala is different in terms of the flavour of comedy. I feel this film will connect with the kids very well because the way things are being shown in it. I can’t explain why and how, but there is a lot for the kids to enjoy. Today, what inspires you? Other people’s work inspires me. When I see amazing films and the variety of content on digital platforms with great performances, it really inspires me to get better at what I am doing. It makes you feel like there is a lot more to do. When I see the love we actors get from so many people who don’t know you personally, it motivates you. It feels great that as an actor you can also inspire someone by giving a message through your work. These are some of the things that make me want to do better and more than what I am doing.