Twenty-nine-year-old Kriti Sanon is the veritable girl next door, who made a name for herself with the assertive, yet grounded Bitti Mishra in Bareilly Ki Barfi, and followed it up with her portrayal of Rashmi Trivedi in cinematographer-director Laxman Utekar’s Luka Chuppi. Here, she again essayed the character of a strong woman, who’s still rooted in her small-town values. We caught up with Sanon while she was wrapping up the shoot for her upcoming venture, Panipat, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. Sanon spoke of her love for comedy, dance numbers and playing characters she can relate to. Excerpts:
You have lately taken on quite a few comic roles. There was Bareilly Ki Barfi (BKB) and the recent Luka Chuppi. Your upcoming release includes Housefull 4, also a comedy.
I love doing comedy, especially when it is situational. Many times the laughter and comedy is not in the dialogues, but rather in the reaction to it. I feel that I have this comical side to me, which doesn’t come out that often. But the few times I have a scene to play with, it comes out in full force. Co-incidentally, there’s a lot of comedy in Arjun Patiala, and Housefull 4 takes it to another level. In times to come, you will see a lot of comic characters being essayed by me.
It’s interesting how your characters — be it Bitti (BKB) or Rashmi (Luka Chuppi) — embody this earnest ‘girl next door’ who is quite assertive.
It’s a bit of reflection of how women have a voice and opinion. They might not take to the streets, to voice it, but that doesn’t mean that they are not thinking. Bitti and Rashmi are characters that today’s generation wants to watch on screen, as it might relate to them, or aspire for the same. People don’t want to see a damsel in distress any more. I think today’s characters need to be inspiring and relatable or they will not last in public memory. I am fortunate that we have writers who have created these characters, and I am getting to play them.
Are you concerned about being stereotyped as the ‘small-town girl’?
Not at all. As an actor you are always striving to do something different, and that is how you consciously decide to do certain films. For me the development curve of my character is far more important, than just the thought that ‘I have done something similar before so I won’t do it again’. Bitti and Rashmi are similar yet different. Bitti is someone who is okay with marrying someone who accepts her for who she is. She doesn’t have too many aspirations of marrying someone who she is in love with. She is still rooted in the environment that she is brought up in. Rashmi, on the other hand, is someone who has studied in Delhi, her thinking is modern, but her values are rooted as well. What I love about these characters is that they have a progressive outlook and are still rooted.
You’ve had an interesting career graph. There have been a few indie films, big multi-starrers like Dilwale and Raabta, and a few Telugu films.
I made a choice with the opportunities that presented themselves, including the choice of waiting for the better ones. I had never thought of becoming an actor till the second year of my engineering degree. That’s when I began modelling. And while I was shooting for a TV commercial, I realised that I like being in front of the camera, and can act. After I finished my degree, I moved to Mumbai and therein began the process to better myself, through workshops. I did choose my films carefully, and did say no to some big banners. All of the learning has been on the job, as I don’t come from a theatre background.
Tell us about your journey from an engineering college to modelling and then acting.
I was a very serious, studious child. I was a 90 per center. I think that’s why I went for a BTech degree. But we always find our calling. I realised that I might have a problem sitting behind my desk everyday. My parents were very supportive even though it’s scary for them. I come from a middle class family. My dad is a charted accountant and my mom is a professor. To let their child go and explore in an industry where there is no security was hard. Every Friday is a new test in Bollywood. I had to convince them. I also gave the GMAT exam as backup, and got a score which would be valid for five years. I told them, that if Bollywood doesn’t work out, I will take that up. That score is not valid any more.
You also appeared in an item number in Kalank. How did that come about?
I think we should do away with the term item number, we should call them dance numbers instead. It’s a special song, I am very proud of it. It’s not sleazy, but rather shot with high aesthetic value. Dancing is therapeutic for me. I loved dancing even before I loved acting.