‘When you’re not playing a glamorous role, people start noticing you more’
Although Kriti Sanon made a mark with her debut in Heropanti (2014), followed by a role in the Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol starrer Dilwale (2015), it was her freespirited act as Bitti Sharma in Junglee Pictures’ Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017) that won her the real accolades. With no filmi lineage to fall back on, Kriti believes in learning with each failure and discovering things on her own. The tall and slender actress bares it all about growing as an actor, her choice of films and her middle-class upbringing. Excerpts…
You have been lauded for your performance in your last release, Bareilly Ki Barfi (BKB),which did well,both commercially and critically. Many felt that it’s your best so far…
When you are not playing a glamorous role in a film, people start noticing you more. Also, my character in BKB was real and relatable, which is what the audience connected with. I feel a performer grows with every act. In my case, I have grown as an actor from Heropanti to Bareilly Ki Barfi. I keep saying that even though Raabta (2017) didn’t work, I feel I grew the most during that film because I was playing two diametrically opposite and layered characters for the first time.
Has the success of BKB changed the way you choose films?
No, I don’t think it has changed at all. Perhaps, the kinds of films that I am being offered today have changed and I have more options to choose from. But the way I pick films still remains the same. If I connect with a script, or if the role is great, I just go for it. These things have always been the criteria for me. I follow my gut.
‘I’m a little too honest, which people don’t always appreciate; it is often misconstrued’
While you’ve chosen contentdriven films like Bareilly Ki Barfi (BKB) and now Panipat,you’re also going to be seen in an outand-out commercial entertainer like Housefull 4.Are you trying to strike a balance in your career choices?
It’s not that after BKB, I only want to do films that revolve around me. As a viewer, I like watching different kinds of cinema. So, as an actor, I have to cater to a variety of audience and not get stuck in a genre. Hence, while I am doing comedies like Housefull 4 and Arjun Patiala, I am also doing Panipat, which is my first full-on period film. With Housefull 4, it is not so much about the script, as it is about being part of a hit franchise. It is a fun film that caters to a much larger audience, across different age groups. Honestly, even though Heropanti did well, it didn’t reach out to as many people as Dilwale did. When I go abroad, people don’t recognise me for Heropanti, but they remember me for Dilwale. Besides, I will be working with Sajid (Nadiadwala) sir again… my second outing with the production house (after Heropanti). It’s a crazy, mad film and funnier than the last three. It’s difficult to do comedy and make people laugh. There is so much stress in our lives today that it’s sometimes good to watch lighthearted films and forget about your troubles.
Hailing from a middle-class, non-film family, how have your parents reacted to your stardom?
It’s been gradual. They have come to terms with a lot of things, like the media attention, all the stuff that’s written about me or even the fact that we can’t visit malls anymore. There have been times when my mom has called me and asked me if I have signed a certain film, because she had read about it in the news. I would tell her, ‘Mom, I will tell you when I sign a film. This is not true’. Now, they know that if there’s something important, they will know about it before others. They trust me a lot. But sometimes, there is a lot of attention, which can get troublesome for them. Well, my parents are the only people I owe an explanation to, while they have to deal with relatives and friends. So, I understand their concerns. My dad has been a very content person. My mom is the one who takes all the stress of the universe, especially when it comes to my sister (Nupur) and me. Sometimes, they ask me sudden questions like, ‘You are not working for these many months?’ and I tell them that it is okay if I am not occupied for a few months. The unpredictability that comes with my profession is something they are still adjusting to.
Has the fact that you are not from the industry made you more realistic about this profession, where fate changes every Friday?
As an outsider, you feel like a baby who is coming into a new world and is fascinated by everything that’s happening around. You learn with each fall at every step, because you are discovering how things work. I think you slowly understand what matters and what doesn’t in the long run. You also realise how to approach certain situations and how to be diplomatic. I have had so many foot-in-mouth situations. My problem is that sometimes, I am a little too honest, which people don’t always appreciate and it is often misconstrued. I am not the best at putting my thoughts into words. I just say what comes to my mind, with complete honesty and without any malice. At times, I feel that I shouldn’t have said some of the things, but I can’t be fake. I feel being fake and trying to fit in is dangerous, because then, you are acting all the time. It’s better to be real and face situations as they unfold.
Your sister Nupur is all set to follow in your footsteps and join the industry. What’s the one advice you have given her that you got from your parents?
My parents told me nothing (laughs!). They didn’t put any restrictions on me. Of course, they told me to be patient and choose the first film very carefully, as your debut film sets you on your career path. Fortunately, I waited for the right debut and it paid off. There are times when you are irritated and tempted to just start out with whatever comes your way, but you should not let that feeling take over. When Nupur moved to Mumbai, I advised her to try out things to see what she really likes and find her true calling. I told her to be patient and not be in a hurry to grab the first opportunity. I am always there to guide her, but she wants to have her own journey, too.