MUMBAI—She’s five years old in films, and her releases have been five too – besides two cameos and a couple of Telugu films. Kriti Sanon started with “Heropanti” in 2014 (after a Telugu debut earlier in “Nenukaddine”) and went on to do “Dilwale,” “Raabta,” “Bareilly Ki Barfi” and “Luka Chhupi,” besides song cameos in “Stree” and “Kalank.”
With an 80 percent hit score as a lead, Sanon is now set to star in her newest small-town film, “Arjun Patiala,” with Diljit Dosanjh and Varun Sharma as co-stars. It is her first “spoof comedy,” and she was gung-ho about humor in general, as we discovered when we met at the Hotel J.W. Marriott.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: What are the challenges in comedies since this can be called your third humor-laden film?
A: But all have been of different kinds. This one is quite over-the-top and it is difficult to do this as you have to make it believable. In “Housefull 4,” my next film, I am again in a different comic zone. Comedy is a flavor I like and I hope to learn and get better with every film. Artistes like Seema Pahwa and Mohammed Zeeshan in “Bareilly…” and “Luka Chhupi” respectively help me get better. Diljit and Varun Sharma – I worked with him in “Dilwale” – are absolute naturals. And Akshay Kumar-sir and Riteish Deshmukh are incredible in “Housefull 4.” Besides, I think that it’s my job to do any role convincingly. These fabulous actors are people from whom I learn something, even if subconsciously.
Like in “Arjun…” I play a small-town reporter. They behave in a different way from their metro counterparts, and I have to understand their body language and thinking process besides acting in that role between “Action!” and “Cut!”
Q: You said you went online to study some bloopers for this role. We know you also interacted with so many local college girls before doing “Bareilly…” as well, so are you in the process of becoming a method actor?
A: No, because I do not know what works for me in any film. I have never done workshops or theater. With “Raabta,” my director Dinesh Vijan (also producer of “Luka Chhupi” and “Arjun Patiala”) told me to roam around Budapest alone, which I NEVER do! I did it for seven days, but I do not know whether that helped me, though I picked up a bit of the language.
On the other hand, when I was to do an emotional sequence for my first film “Heropanti,” I had a bad fight with someone and was almost in tears just before the shot. I recalled that we should use such experiences while shooting, but it failed to do anything for me. I then thought of my character’s emotions, and it worked.
Q: How comic are you in real life?
A (Smiles): There ARE days when I seem to crack one-liners and friends tell me, “You seem to be in form today!” But I am not a sad person. Ashutosh Gowariker-sir directs me in “Panipat,” in which I play Parvatibai, who lightens the mood every time she comes on screen. So he told me, “You have a thing for comedy!” And yes, I love people with a sense of humor. That’s so important in these times of stress and cribbing!
Q: Your high success average – what explains it?
A: I do feel a lot of pressure! But I am fortunate and glad it has happened like that. Whenever my film does well and connects, I get more confidence and feel that maybe I am going on the right track. I chose films on my gut-feel, and if that comes out right, audiences like it. I also like to vary my roles and take risks with something new. I think there is no way besides going on gut feel. It is the only formula for me with so many mediums around, and in times when people may not like merely average stuff anymore.
Q: Is it also because you have always watched Hindi films, unlike most of your contemporaries who prefer watching more of Hollywood or world cinema?
A: Yes, it’s true that I began to watch English films only after becoming an actor and I still do not watch many. Maybe that does make me a ‘massy’ person. But there are some big successes among mainstream films that I have not liked.
Q: You are doing so many small-town stories.
A: I know! Some years ago, they were shooting everything abroad! But as I said, I try and work hard on my characters. Characters excite me. When I heard the story of Bitti Misra, my character in “Bareilly…” I knew within 20 minutes of the narration that such a role may not come my way again! Though I am a simple, middle-class girl from Delhi, I had a glamorous image and people could not imagine me as Bitti when I was doing the film. Luckily (director) Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari did not listen to those who tried to convince her I was the wrong choice and tried to shake her confidence.
Q: Almost always, it has been a solo lead for you, that too stories focused around your character and opposite heroes of lesser standing: Ayushmann Khurrana had had a flop run before “Bareilly…” and Kartik Aaryan had just got a major hit in “Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety.” Is there a strategy there?
A (Shakes her head): Not at all. In “Arjun Patiala,” for example, the story is not focused on my character. Neither is it the case with “Housefull 4” or “Panipat.” I only want to do characters that make a difference, even if I may have five or six scenes. If you can remove my character from a film without making a difference, then I will not do it.
Q: Aren’t you doing the Hindi remake of the National award-winning Marathi film “Mala Aai Vhayachay (I want to be a mother)” with Dinesh as producer?
A: I have no idea. I am signed for a couple of films more with them.
Q: And now, there’s a film with Rahul Dholakia, a thriller.
A: It’s scary yet great to have the feeling of carrying an entire film on my shoulders alone. There is no else to blame if it does not work, but you also get greater scope to expand in various directions. I have received some 10 female-centric offers that I have not accepted for diverse reasons, but I am glad more such subjects are being written nowadays.
Q: We also heard that your recent films enabled you to try out every kind of local cuisine in the various locations in which you shot.
A (Laughs).: Yes, most films have allowed me to eat. They were roles jis mein body nahin dikhani thi (I did not have to show a great body), so I let myself go. With “Arjun Patiala,” it meant butter chicken, lassi, kababs, jalebi, dal makhani…!
Q: And your body can tolerate all this…
A: Touchwood, I have an easy metabolism. I love food, but the fact that I have a small stomach makes me get full very fast, so I guess I do eat in moderation. And I also do workouts. I know that later on, being a Punjabi, I will have to take care!
Q: You are now in the top bracket of Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra and Katrina Kaif.
A: Thank you! I love all of them! PC is someone I have admired for years and years!