Just before we sit down with Kriti Sanon for this interview, I decide to browse through her Instagram account—for a mandatory social-media catch-up. The photomontage, as expected, serves its purpose. But what gets me thinking is the actor’s bio—it says: ‘Uncomplicate’. And as I discover minutes into our chat, ‘uncomplicate’ is pretty much the motto Kriti seems to live by.
Anyone who has been following her career will know that Kriti is an engineer by qualification—who put aside her B.Tech degree and the lucrative job placements that came with being an ace student, to become an actor. And the rest, as her numerous awards and 100 crore-club films will tell you, is well-documented history. But what very few know is the struggle in the interim—the sailing from the familiar stream of academics to the uncharted waters of the performing arts.
As Kriti joins me, the first thing I ask is to explain her Instagram bio. After all, her mother is a professor at Delhi University, and her father, a chartered account. No-one in the family has ever had anything to do with the film industry, even remotely. It must have been quite ‘complicated’ to convince her parents to let her pack her bags and move to Mumbai? How did she ‘uncomplicate’ that? “I decided to take the GMAT exams,” Kriti laughs. “The score is valid for five years, so they were assured that I could always go back to that if films didn’t work out.”
We go on to talk about all the times she was doubtful about what lay ahead—when the films coming her way weren’t what she was hoping to make her debut with, or how she would have to sit at home without work for long periods. “I didn’t let that deter me. I wouldn’t mope. Instead, I’d get dressed, find out if any auditions were taking place, go there and give my best,” she says. “Or just hit the gym and work on myself.” Uncomplicate.
Cosmo: You have completed seven years in the film industry. From academics to the performing arts—how has the journey been?
Kriti Sanon: “I believe that life is unpredictable, and you should always keep doors open for possibilities. It is okay if you haven’t figured out your passion. Destiny has its own way of taking you where you are meant to be. You just need to recognise the opportunity when it comes knocking, and be ready to take chances. That’s what I did.
When I decided to pursue engineering, I didn’t know if I’d like it or not. But I didn’t know what else to do, either, so I just went with the flow. Even modelling happened after I randomly won a contest and got an opportunity to have my portfolio shot by Dabboo Ratnani. And eventually, I got into acting. I didn’t even know if I could act, but once I gave it a try, I realised that I loved being in front of the camera.”
C: Those sound like serendipitous encounters...
KS: “I do believe in serendipity. But you also need determination and courage. I took a huge risk—I didn’t know anyone in the industry, I was dropping a year at college and letting go of the placement offers. And I was shifting cities, to be on my own. There have been many lows on the way too, when I have wondered if I had made a stupid move. There are so many people who come to Mumbai, all wanting the same things as me.”
C: So what kept you going?
KS: “Somewhere inside, I believed that I had the talent and the ‘X factor’ needed. Also, all you need is a few people who trust you. Who tell you it’s going to be okay. My parents did that for me. They stood by me, unflinchingly. There were times when I’d get film offers, but they were not great. Such opportunities would put me in a dilemma—’Should I take the film up or not?’, ‘What if I don’t get another film?’ And there were days when I had nothing to do, too. But I’d keep myself motivated. I’d hit the gym, head to an audition, or attend acting workshops. Sometimes, I’d sulk, but to be honest, my belief in myself was never shaken.”
C: So there wasn’t any Plan B?
KS: “I was always sure that this was it for me. The Plan B was more for my parents! They’d call me 10,000 times a day, because they were so concerned. The film industry was a big shift for them, and I am sure they didn’t think I could act until they saw my first movie! Also, I had been an extremely shy kid, with massive stage fright. And I wanted to enter a profession that needed me to be social and outgoing. So there were a lot of maybes and what ifs. But they let me follow my heart.”
C: How would those closest to you describe you?
KS: “I think they’d say that I am a very simple and real person. I am someone who can’t fake it...except when I am in front of the camera [laughs]. I do take my time to open up, and so may come across as a little arrogant at first. But once you cross that little wall I have around me, you’ll know there is absolutely no ego.”
C: What is 2021 looking like for you?
KS: “Personally, I’m looking forward to a beach holiday soon. And to be able to shop—I miss going to stores and trying on clothes. I am also contemplating moving into a slightly bigger apartment. During lockdown, my parents were also staying here and I realised we need a little more space. Professionally, I am very fortunate to have been able to complete two films in the pandemic, and working on a few more right now. You’ll see me in Hum Do Hamare Do, Bachchan Pandey, and Ganpath, among others. So a packed year, but being busy is the new happy for me after 2020.”
Styling: Zunaili Malik;
Photographs: Rohan Shrestha;
Hair: Aasif Ahmed at Runway Lifestyle;
Make-Up: Shraddha Naik using Faces Canada;
Production: P. Productions;
Fashion Assistant: Humaira Lakdawala and Manveen Guliani;
Fashion Interns: Aarushi Garg and Ananya Banerjee