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Had to say F word 50 times for Raaz Reboot: Kriti Kharbanda

For a girl who has never abused on screen, the young actress broke down after hurling abuses at her co-stars Emraan Hashmi and Gaurav Arora.

Mayur Lookhar

What do Bipasha Basu, Kangana Ranaut and Esha Gupta have in common, apart from being Hindi film actresses? The Raaz films brought out the scariest best in these beauties, who were sometimes frightened souls unintentionally unravelling some paranormal mysteries in the Raaz films. For the upcoming Raaz Reboot, the Bhatts have tapped into the innocence of reigning South film star and Punjabi beauty Kriti Kharbanda. 

Her vast experience in the southern film industry seems to have prepared Kharbanda for her big break in Bollywood. The understandably nervous Kharbanda spoke to Cinestaan.com about Raaz Reboot, her discomfiture while abusing her co-stars, why the scope for women-oriented film is limited, and much more. 

Excerpts from the conversation.

Before you there was one famous Kharbanda in the industry, and his name (Kulbhushan) meant 'pride of the house'. Your name means 'work of art' Looking at you, this 'work of art' should be attributed to your parents. Is that right?

(laughs). I don't know what my parents were thinking before they decided my name. I was told that my parents were divided on five names for me. My mother wanted to name me Maureen, after she read an interesting article on Maureen Wadia. Maureen Kharbanda didn’t appeal to my grandfather. So, I was then named Kritika, but my mother disapproved of it. Thereafter, I was named Sonia, but my father wasn’t happy with it. So, they went back to naming me Kritika, but my mother put her foot down and after arriving at a consensus, they finally named me Kriti.

Can we say that Raaz Reboot is not a reboot, but more of an upgrade in your career ?

I wouldn’t call it an upgrade. Raaz Reboot is basically about the film being given a facelift. We want to present it a whole different way. We made sure that it looks extremely rich on screen. We have lot of horror, excitement in the film. We’ve upped the quotient in every way in terms of sexuality, intimacy, love story, conflict. You even wouldn’t know who is good or bad until the end.

I used the word upgrade in reference to you switching from regional to mainstream Hindi cinema, which is perceived to be a pan-India cinema. Don’t you think it’s an upgrade in that sense?

I don’t  think so purely because the numbers any movie makes doesn’t affect me. Be it Hindi or down south, I’m just doing my job. There’s nothing that I gain from what the film makes. So, even if it’s a limited audience, south films are growing by leaps and bounds. The language is immaterial. All that matters is that the film is a hit.

I read that you were earlier offered some Hindi films, but you couldn’t take them up because of prior commitments. Were they prominent offers?

Yes, they were. But unfortunately I didn’t have dates then. Fortunately, back then I was shooting some great films down south. There’s one thing that I maintained and that is I will not prioritise one thing over the other, unless it deserves it. For instance, I knew I had to promote Raaz, but I had committed certain dates for my Kannada movie. I’ll be flying out tonight to Mysore to shoot for it. I fly out tonight, drive to Mysore and come back here (Mumbai) again for three days and I go back to Bangalore to shoot my Kannada film for two more days. Lot of people would say to prioritise a Hindi film over regional one, but I would never do that. For me that would be akin to differentiating between your children.

Why choose horror to make your Hindi film debut? 

I say 'why not'? I would have been asked the same if I had done a love story, but my answer would again be 'why not'.

Have you seen all the three previous Raaz films?

I have seen the first and second Raaz films. I'd watched these films on TV. I was a kid then and so wasn’t allowed into the theatres. I get spooked very easily.

Oh, is that what makes you a perfect fit for this role?

Yes, I was very natural when I had to get scared. 

What was your impression of the two Raaz films?

I thought both were fabulous films, especially Raaz. It brought a certain amount of freshness. When I watch my movie now, I feel its a reflection of Raaz. Raaz Reboot though is an upgrade from that. 

Does Raaz Reboot have any reference from the earlier films?

It doesn’t have a reference per se, but we have stuck to our roots and just glamourised everything. Obviously, we’ve increased the horror element as back then we didn’t have the kind of technology that is available to us now. Most of the stuff that we have done, especially my possession bits, we have tried and use prosthetics as much as possible. My makeup alone used to take 3-4 hours everyday.

How did you bag Raaz Reboot?  

Well, Muskeshji had seen my pictures somewhere. So, he insisted I meet him. I heard the script, took my time and then decided to take it up. However, I had my apprehensions about doing the script. Raaz comes with a certain amount of baggage for the heroine. Certain things were against my values, against my upbringing that I had to in this film. 

Did you have to take permission from your parents?

Funnily enough, yes, I had to. I have never kissed on screen before. So, that was my first inhibition. Secondly, I had to abuse in this movie. I had to sue the F word 50 times without a break. So, you can imagine dubbing for something like that. So, I had to relive that moment. I remember crying after the shot. I fought with Vikram sir, telling him that I can’t do it. I wasn’t told about these things when I signed up for the film. He said that these are just dialogues and it is not you, but you are possessed, you are allowed to do this. I hurled abuses at Emraan, at Gaurav. I felt terrible about it. That was one of the cuts that we got from the CBFC.

Did CFBC chop it all?

No, they asked us to bring it down by 50 per cent. They said that a heroine of the film can't abuse. Chopping them all would have taking it against the spirit of the movie. We couldn’t have allowed that.

If you are a rank outsider, then perhaps the only way for you make your mark is by doing bold films or take up controversial subjects. Do you agree?

There is limited stuff as far as women-oriented films are concerned, but then we make such films in limited budgets, and even if it’s viewed by a limited audience, it will be a hit. Vidya Balan and Sonakshi Sinha are the living examples of what women actresses are capable of. 

North Indian girls going down south is not a new phenomenon. But what message does that leave for the local girls?

I have made an effort to learn the languages. Most actresses today, even if they are from north India, be it a Rakul or Reggina, they all speak the language. Besides, we also have lot of local actresses who have made it big, Anushka Shetty is a Kannadiga, Samantha Prabhu is a Malayali Tamilian girl. Then there’s Swati. We have many actresses hailing from the south. So, I think it is a perfect balance.

Born in Delhi, but you were raised in Bangalore. So, did you learn the language from an early age? 

I had to learn the basics in my school, but never used in my daily life. I started communicating in Kannada only when I signed my first film. 

But did you require a dubbing artist? 

No, I don’t dub for my films down south. I made the effort to learn the language.

Coming back to Raaz, how was it to shoot in Romania, the land of Dracula?

Emraan and I visited the Bran castle. It obviously has a lot of history. Romania is very rich culturally, in terms of history, architecture. We shot at some really great locations, Romania can look very haunted.. We shot in Bucharest, Sibiu and Senaia — those roads as haunted as dark as they can be.  It was just scary to drive from one place to another, especially in the middle of the night. The climax and a big part of the film, we shot in the Dictator’s mansion for about 20-25 days. The route to the mansion, the woods that we had to take, was spooky as hell. There were couple of times where you just feel  some presence.

Emraan Hashmi is known to be soft-spoken and reticent. How was the experience working with him?

Emraan is one of the most chilled out people I met. He actually keeps to himself, is a no-nonsense kind of guy, but yet he is fun to be around. I think my co-stars balanced out each others nuances. One is very quiet, while the other (Gaurav Arora) is bundle of energy. So, I had both of them. I’m a very talkative person. Whenever I got tired of talking, I would urge Gaurav to talk and entertain me.

Few months back it was reported that Parineeti Chopra was going to get paid Rs3 crore for a Telegu film. Is that unfair on established south Indian actresses?

Parineeti has made a space for herself. I reckon she deserves it, then that is why in the first place she was offered the money. Look, if someone wants me to be part of their film, it's their choice to cast me, it’s not up to me. So, why would it bother anybody?

You seem to have a fixation with Bruce Lee. You’ve done one with that title, but there’s one more coming...

Bruce Lee was one of the most challenging films I did last year. It was difficult purely because I had never done something like this before. So, Im proud of myself for doing such a film. I’m now part of another Bruce Lee which is in Tamil. This marks my debut in the Tamil film industry. It’s a really good rom-com, fun film filled with action. I’m all excited as I’m doing action in the film. Imagine a 5 ft 4 in tall petite girl doing action scenes. Being a Punjabi, it all comes naturally to me. 

Finally, do you concentrate on your work purely and have no personal life? Are you single?

There is no time for personal life. I’m very single (cheeky smile). It’s unfortunate and sad. I wish I had a boyfriend.