MUMBAI—She wanted to be an actress from as far back as she can remember, but Kiara Advani’s father told her to complete her education first. What’s more, he was convinced only after watching the 2009 “3 Idiots” that she should be allowed to pursue a career in what she was passionate about!
All those years of standing before a mirror imitating Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit Nene were thus vindicated, and Advani went on to do two short courses in acting at Anupam Kher’s school of acting and at Roshan Taneja’s institute as well. Making her debut in the 2014 Akshay Kumar home production “Fugly,” Kiara Advani struck gold last year with the Neeraj Pandey film “M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story.” And Abbas-Mustan handpicked her for “Machine,” co-starring Abbas’ debut-making son Mustafa. Mustafa has revealed that she was chosen for her fresh and innocent appeal as well as her talent. Over to Advani, whom India-West met at the Novotel Hotel in Mumbai.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: What excited you about signing “Machine?”
A: Abbas-Mustan sirs actually calling ME to their office – wasn’t that enough? (Smiles) We spent four to five hours just chatting and chatting. Honestly, I have never met such humble people in my life. The way they present their heroines and give them meaty roles is evident to all. Half the job of accepting “Machine” was done by all this, and the script and the role were the clinchers!
Q: We are meeting for the first time. How is Kiara pre-“…Dhoni…” different from Kiara after the stupendous success of that film?
A: I think that I am the same person completely! Yes, after a hit, lots of doors open because more people see and like you. It’s quite overwhelming.
Q: As someone who always wanted to be an actor, how do you see your own performances?
A: Oh, I am very critical of myself, and I think that’s good. When I watch myself, I always feel that today I would have done a scene better. You need the energy that comes out of that dissatisfaction with yourself, and the craving to be flawless.
Q: Having worked with three of the finest talents in Hindi cinema – Neeraj and now Abbas-Mustan, what in your opinion are the similarities and differences between them?
A: The similarity is that they both have such a calming presence on the sets. Since there is no pressure and there are no tempers, an actor’s mindset becomes positive, there is lots of love at work, and the actor then becomes effortless. As for differences, every filmmaker has his own unique point. Neeraj is definite about everything, with such an amazing clarity that I have never watched myself on the monitor during our film. Abbas-Mustan too know what they want, and are so completely in sync with each other despite working for so many years together that it is superb! There is so much energy, passion and patience – all that just make you give your best.
Yes, Neeraj does readings of the script and then tells you to read it back to him. He is technical, like he will comment that he would like me to speak a line different and why that is so, or that he liked the look I gave someone in a scene. With Abbas-Mustan, the graph is emotional, and we are told what happened before, and what will happen after.
You see, when you are acting nothing is wrong, because it’s a reaction and can be very subjective. Whatever feels organic is right, and Abbas-Mustan leave it to us to do what we want and are open to improvising. Their brother Hussein Burmawala sits with us while shooting. He is their editor and knows exactly what will be cut and what has to stay, and that helps too.
Q: There is buzz that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has signed you for a three-film deal with his production house.
A: Really? (Smiles) Well, I have not signed any film other than “Machine.” Any announcements that will come from the scripts I am reading will have to come from the other side.
Q: Your very first film was an Akshay Kumar co-production and you had a song with Salman Khan and him that was finally not shown in the film. Again, how would you compare the two?
A: I am very lucky to begin my career with both! What they share is how they pick up the steps of a song super-fast and bring a terrific change in the atmosphere and energy when they enter a set. There is so much laughter and such a positive vibe. Akshay-sir will always be special as he launched me, and our family and Salman-sir’s family know each other. I always take advice if needed from him and he is very encouraging.
Q: Would you like to do films with them? Akshay has been working with newer heroines for almost two years now.
A: I do not have any expectations. But who would not?