Join the Bollywood sensation on her victory lap as she clinches her first-ever National Award for ‘Mimi’. HELLO! delves into her genuine talent, grounded approach and thriving career.
Stepping into Mumbai’s glamorous Bastian – At The Top, she radiates ease; an air of nonchalance. Walking amid those in her inner circle (given how uninhibited they seem with the star!), Bollywood’s Kriti Sanon simply stands out. You can’t help but notice her 5-foot, 9-inch stature, accompanied by a chiselled face and natural make-up, reflecting her distinct personality. However, it’s definitely that radiant smile that steals the spotlight.
The HELLO! cover shoot unfolds seamlessly as the star goes through multiple looks with minimal fuss, a testament to her camaraderie with the photographer, Rohan Shrestha, who incidentally shot her first-ever portfolio back in 2010! Having known the star since her pre-debut days, he reveals, “Kriti remains the same simple sweet girl from Delhi who not only continues to live with her parents but is also uncorrupted by the industry...”
And we can easily believe that, watching the playful exchanges between the star and her crew. Even her make-up artist Aasif Ahmed swears by her down-to-earth temperament. “She does not like anyone raising their voice against her team. It upsets her.”
Deeply rooted, reliable and respectful, Kriti epitomises modern stardom, extending qualities beyond the silver screen into genuine human connection. Absent are prima donna antics and diva behaviour, replaced by an ethos of collaboration and mutual consideration that undoubtedly fosters the best work.
Charting The Course
Kriti is on cloud nine right now. And why wouldn’t she be? The young actress recently received the prestigious National Film Award for Best Actress for her fabulous work in Mimi, sharing the honour with Alia Bhatt. And once again, we note how the times have changed; unlike the age-old image of female actors feuding with one another, we see a special bond between the two.
“Alia is amazing. She is a phenomenal performer who was outstanding in Gangubai Kathiawadi,” says Kriti. She reminisces about the special moment when they hugged each other before going up on stage. “We were both standing in line. I was feeling very overwhelmed. I turned around and told her, ‘I want to hug you.’ She reciprocated my gesture with a tight, warm hug which was so special. We were two young women receiving a prestigious award from the President at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi,” she recounts.
And contrary to tabloid gossip, Kriti’s parents were definitely present to watch their daughter receive her first national award. This was once a part of Kriti’s bucket list, an entry she had penned in her diary many moons ago. Manifesting a childhood dream is always special and in her case, it was a random phone call from Delhi that changed her life.
“I was in a meeting at home and my phone was constantly ringing. It was a number from Delhi that I didn’t recognise. I asked my manager to take the call. He called me aside and handed over the phone. It was the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, India, Anurag Singh Thakur, who had personally called to give me the news. I was elated and rushed to inform my parents first,” she says, the excitement in her voice palpable.
In Mimi, Kriti boldly explores the world of surrogacy and its complications, when the emotional ties are harder to sever than the umbilical cord. For the actress, the poignant reality of numerous homeless children up for adoption struck a chord and she connected with the script which was adapted from a Marathi film, Mala Aai Vahhaychy!. “The film is inspired by a true incident in which a foreign couple abandoned the child in the surrogate mother’s womb upon learning it would be born with Down Syndrome. Since then, the surrogacy laws have been tightened...”
The labour room scene in the film definitely stands out, performed with such intensity and rawness from a young girl. “Laxman [Utekar] sir, the director, was very clear that he wanted every man who watched this film to feel the raw pain that a woman goes through and every husband to feel proud of what his wife endures. I remember watching multiple labour room videos on YouTube and asking my mother if she remembered her experience of delivering me. She said that she felt like she was going to die on the hospital bed.”
And while that set the mood for a natural performance, it also deeply unsettled the actor. However, given her bond with the child artist in the film, she admits that she has a nurturing instinct and loves to mother her loved ones, be it her sister or her close friends.
Crafting A Legacy
For an engineering graduate who ventured into the big, and not entirely bad, world of Bollywood eight years ago, the national award victory validates her journey. “I have always been ambitious and am a bit of a perfectionist. I want to be known as a good actor, not just a star. And there is no bigger validation than winning this award. It has given me a lot of confidence in my craft.”
It also drives home the point that genuine talent will always shine, challenging the narrative of nepotism dictating success in Bollywood. Does she, however, feel the weight of heightened expectations?
“I don’t get pressured, but I do understand the responsibility that comes with this award. I must choose my films with care.” She already has a very interesting portfolio though, comprising films like Bareilly Ki Barfi, Panipat, Bhediya and the more recent Ganapath. However, it may have not worked its magic at the box office.
“Everything is temporary, both the success and the failures. You must rise from the lows and try to grow and keep moving. The success of a film is not in my hands but what I can ensure is that I always do my best.”
It is this level-headed approach that has made her a favourite among the brands; Kriti credits her relatability factor to her balanced, middle-class upbringing. “That is why the audience is able to connect with me,” she reveals.
Beyond The Silver Screen
Smart and savvy, Kriti invests wisely; she’s come up with a range of beauty products under her brand, Hyphen. “It’s my passion project. I researched all the ingredients used extensively and watched a lot of videos. I am obsessed with skincare and given the fact that I have an engineering background, I looked into all the minute details. This is not about making money for me. It is my baby and I waited till I found the right partner before I launched this product. I have also tried every single product myself.”
She has also turned co-producer for Do Patti, a film in which she stars alongside the iconic Kajol. She considers entering into production a very organic process. “It’s very satisfying and exciting. I like experimenting with new things. I have a creative mind and have always been involved with every aspect of filmmaking,” remarks the star who is also gung-ho about her upcoming film The Crew, helmed by the two powerhouses, Ektaa Kapoor and Rhea Kapoor, and has a stellar cast including Tabu and Kareena Kapoor Khan. “It is amazing and so much fun. Working with so many women together is a rare experience for us, and we are thoroughly enjoying it.” Fans are also eagerly anticipating the quirky love story with Bollywood sweetheart Shahid Kapoor set to release next year! Clearly, her professional plate is full.
Charting into the personal realm, we wonder whether she can see herself dating an actor, to which the actress, mature as always, reveals what she’s really looking for in a partner, “I don’t think you can pick and choose like that. He must be a good person, loving, caring and understanding...” But do the rumours linking her with her co-stars ever get embarrassing? “Not between us, as we don’t take these things seriously. We laugh about it. The media makes our lives more interesting than they really are,” she smiles playfully as she takes a light jab at the fraternity.
What the actress does want to do though, is take a break next year. “In our industry, you burn out fast. I want to take time out for myself and be with my family,” says the actress who follows her parents’ mantra to this day: to stay true to herself. Advice that she has offered her younger sister Nupur, an upcoming actor. “I have told her [Nupur] to maintain her individuality and not mimic others. To preserve her uniqueness, to absorb, learn and follow her heart.”
Just the way Kriti Sanon has done; built a successful career on her own steam, one step at a time. And look where it has taken her, eight years later!
Text: Nayare Ali; Photos: Rohan Shrestha; Creative Direction: Avantikka Kilachand; Assisted By: Jhanvi Khatwani; Styling: Sukriti Grover, Vani Gupta And Baishali Baruah; Hair: Aasif Ahmed; Hair Assisted By: Sheetal Keshri, Make-Up: Adrian Jacobs, Make-Up Assisted By: Rehan Raza Khan; Location: Courtesy Of Bastian — At The Top.
This interview is from HELLO! India’s December 2023 issue. Check out the latest issue right here.