“I go with my gut," says actor Kriti Sanon who has four films (Mimi, Bachchan Pandey, Bhediya, Adipurush) lined up. The actor, in an interview with News18.com, talks about what gives her the confidence to choose a subject like Mimi, which completely rests on her shoulder, why she feels more accepted in the industry today and her journey so far.
The last year and a half have been really tough for everyone. Personally, how has it been for you?
I think I have been extremely fortunate. God has been kind to me because I completed Mimi just 10 days before the lockdown was announced. If I would have been in the middle of shooting then it would have been extremely difficult because I had put on 15 kilograms for the role. After the first lockdown was announced, the shooting only began after around six months. So to maintain the weight and the continuity would have been a task. Also, I was working continuously for two years before the lockdown, and last year due to the pandemic I got a break. So I didn’t really mind it. But being the workaholic that I am, there was a sudden lull. There was a lot of uncertainty on how we’re going to get back. But I think we just need to adapt. We have to adapt to the new normal. And I still feel that in the pandemic, I managed to wrap up three films and the credit goes to the entire cast and crew of all the films because this is a tricky situation to be in.
What was the motivation behind picking up Mimi?
I think it is one of the best scripts that I had read. It is a subject that hasn’t been much explored in Indian cinema. People expect that a film on surrogacy would be really serious. But Mimi is really an entertaining film. It’s a story of this girl who wants to become an actor but she ends up becoming a surrogate to a couple which changes her life completely. The graph of this character was something that I was excited about when I signed it. I haven’t experienced being a mother and it’s an emotion that only people who have experienced know. I really had a blast shooting the film.
In many of your interviews, you have mentioned having a high metabolism rate. Did that make it difficult for you to gain weight?
Yes. I have a good metabolism. I have never been on diet and I eat whatever I like when I feel like it. Initially, I had to put on only 10 kilograms. But because of my height, by the time I gained seven kilograms, it wasn’t really showing. Laxman (Utekar, director) sir told me that he doesn’t want people to see me and doubt that I have put on weight. He wanted people to see my face and feel that I am pregnant. So I had to put on 15 kilograms in two months. I was eating every two hours. I was eating when I wasn’t hungry. I was constantly eating high-calorie foods. I completely stopped working out and I couldn’t even do yoga. I used to have poori-halwa-chana as breakfast and sweets after every meal. Though I enjoyed it initially, later I had to force myself to eat as I had lost interest in food. I had a feeling of nausea. I was actually feeling unfit. In fact, when I used to not feel hungry, I used to eat a cheese slice.
Was losing weight difficult too?
Generally, it shouldn’t be for me, but this time around it was. My appetite had increased and so I had to starve myself. I also had a lot of sweets so my body was craving sugar and I had to restrict myself. And I had to lose weight in three months because I had to start shooting for another film. So it was like torturing the body.
Do you think that in the last few years, the industry is more accepting of films with female protagonists in the lead?
Thanks to OTT, there is a variety of content available and the audience wants to see something different all the time. So I believe that content has become the king. I think there are all kinds of films that are being made today. So you will see films that are male-oriented but there are enough films today being made that are headlined by female actors. The balance is slowly getting better. Filmmakers want to make films that are led by a female protagonist, and they are ready to put in money. Many of these films are doing well and that will only make things better.
So does a film like Mimi put additional responsibility on you considering you are the central character?
Definitely, it does. It’s scary yet great to have the feeling of carrying an entire film on my shoulders alone. There is no one else to blame if it does not work, but you also get the greater scope to expand in various directions. I have made sure that I have given everything to the film and I hope the audience likes it.
Being an outsider who has spent nearly seven years in Bollywood, do you now feel a strong sense of belonging in the industry?
Absolutely. This journey has been extremely special, something that I never dreamed of. Coming from a middle-class family, I did engineering and had never thought that acting would be my profession. I did not know anyone when I started so I felt a little lost. At this point, the opportunities were limited and you try to end up choosing what you feel is the best. Slowly, I started getting to know more people and the kind of work that I did also made me relevant. After all these years, I do feel that I belong here. The industry today is far more accepting of outsiders. I chose this career knowing this reality (that star kids are favoured). I get to take credit for my achievements for which I am pretty proud of myself.
Is there a sense of vindication then of making it on your own?
I never got things on a platter. I went for a lot of auditions before I got Heropanti, and believe me it was really tough. The rejections and the failures that you face make you stronger. I believe you learn a lot more from your failure than success. Success gives you a lot of confidence to move ahead and take risks. So I am proud of the journey that I have had so far. At the same time, I cant the entire credit. There are many people who believed in me, stood by my side when I needed them. There are many filmmakers who came to me after I gave a flop film because they believed in my talent. I would like to give credit to Sajid Nadiadwala sir, Dinesh Vijan, Rohit Shetty. Sabbir Khan for giving me my first film Heorpanti, Ashwini Iyer Tiwary to give me a film like Bareilly Ki Barfi when I was only doing glamorous roles. Then Panipat happened for which I would always be thankful to Ashutosh Gowarikar.
You have a varied lineup of films ahead— Mimi, Bachchan Pandey, Bhediya, Adipurush. How do you choose a script?
I am going with my gut and hoping that my choices are right. Eventually, how the film shapes up depends on the collaborative effort. The appreciation and the success that I received for films like Bareilly Ki Barfi, Luka Chuppi and Panipat gave me the confidence and do something different. Whenever a film does well and connects with the audience, it reinstates my confidence. That helps in taking risks and experimenting.
You are playing Sita in Adipurush. In the past, several artists have faced online trolling and calls for boycotts for their projects from fringe groups for hurting their religious sentiments. Is there a fear of having a backlash?
We are all aware of the situation but Om Raut is an excellent director and has thoroughly researched the subject and all characters. Also, I am aware of the responsibility that comes with this character. As far as trolls are concerned what I say personally matters and I am cautious about that. I am conscious about the words that I choose and that has happened because of the time that we are living in. Everything that we say becomes a big deal. But I know the character and the story that we are telling and I have a lot of respect for it and it is going to reflect in what I am going to do.