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Interview Hindi

No point exposing sexual offenders in Hindi cinema right now: Kriti Kharbanda

The Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana actress points out that there are a lot of men and women willing to commit to favours in order to make their careers work.

Mayur Lookhar

Winters are perfect for weddings in North India. Though not quite big and fat, Hindi cinema will witness a traditional Hindu Lucknowi wedding on 10 November. First-time director Ratna Sinha is making an earnest plea, "Shaadi mein zaroor aana [Please make sure to attend the wedding]". However, going by the trailer of Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, this is going to be anything but a smooth event. On the big day, bride Aarti (Kriti Kharbanda) flees, leaving groom Satyendra (Rajkummar Rao) shattered, angry and seeking vengeance.

Kriti Kharbanda had moved from Southern cinema to Hindi films with Raaz: Reboot (2016). A couple of early setbacks at the box office have not dampened the young actress's spirits. Kharbanda is an easygoing, fun-filled young woman who shares such good camaraderie with her director that she does not hesitate to say she is dating Ratna Sinha.

Cinestaan.com caught up with Kharbanda who shared her Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana experience, called Rajkummar Rao an inspiration, and explained why it is pointless to expose the Harvey Weinsteins lurking in Hindi cinema. Excerpts:

Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017) and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana both have one thing in common. The lead actress is named Kriti. Bitti (Kriti Sanon) from Bareilly or your character Aarti only pretend to love Rajkummar Rao’s character in the two films.

(Laughs.) Wow, I never thought on those lines. Maybe you should ask Rajkummar why he runs after a Kriti. He should have learnt from his first experience.

I’m really excited about this film. I was asking the director why we couldn’t release the movie now as opposed to the 10th. I have zero regrets what Aarti does to Satyendra.

You played the principal character in Raaz: Reboot (2016). But here the talk is all about Rajkummar Rao, who comes into this film on the back of a few hits. What are your expectations from the film?

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

I’m hoping people watch me too. People only like to watch Rajkummar Rao in his films. I have even told him, “brother, who will watch me?” Truth is, I feel very good about it. Rajkummar is a true inspiration for a lot of people who come from the outside, because he made a mark for himself. More importantly, he has made it on the basis of his acting talent alone. As a person, I feel like if we concentrate a little more on our craft, then we can be two steps ahead.

You are playing a girl from Uttar Pradesh for the first time. The people there have a different style of speaking. How tough was it for you to get into the skin of your character?

Honestly, we speak in Hindi at home. My father does not speak in English. I’m so grateful for that, for, growing up in Bangalore, my Hindi improved only because of him. He made sure we all spoke in Hindi. For me language was never an issue.

When I auditioned for the role, Ratna Sinha told me she needs someone who has a command over the Hindi language. As for adapting to the UP lingo, that came easily for that is what I have been doing in the South. Most of the crew was from Lucknow. They largely use gentle words like ‘aap, hum’. I had done my preparations, too. 

You have enjoyed success down South, but, unfortunately, your first few films in Hindi — Raaz: Reboot and Guest Iin London (2017) — did not work. Does that worry you?

I’m here now. The failures didn’t stop me from acting. As long as a film fetches me [more] work, I’m very happy. It sounds very selfish, but that’s the truth. Every actor works like that. The idea is to get your next film, to get a canvas to portray your skills. The failures did depress me a bit, but I think I have it in me to get up and move on. Nothing brings me down.

Though your earlier Hindi films failed, you showed promise as an artiste. A film fails, but you get appreciation. How do you look at it?

I always look at it as the glass being half-full. Yes, I would not deny that had those films succeeded, I would have been happier, but what I won’t be able to tolerate is that a film is a hit but I’m not appreciated. I can’t do anything about the result of a movie, but what I can do is make sure that I give my 100%. I think I gave that to my earlier films.

I love the 'Mera Intkam Dekhegi' song...

(Interrupting.) Tell me how many hearts have you broken, or rather how many heartbreaks have you endured?

Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana song: Kriti faces Rajkummar's wrath in 'Mera Intkam Dekhegi'

Well, I meant to say that looking at the video of the song, Satyendra comes across as an I-T officer who raids Aarti’s house. I wonder if Aarti was not aware. Why would a woman break an I-T officer’s heart knowing that there will be hell to pay?

He is a government officer, but more than being a government officer, he is a human being who has endured a heartbreak. You don’t think about consequences when you fall in love. Perhaps you calculate before falling in love, and that’s why I assume you are left heartbroken. We don’t calculate, we just love.

On a serious note, the Harvey Weinstein saga has led to a debate whether we should expose our own Weinsteins. Have you ever come across any dubious characters?

I haven’t come across them. But my point is expose them and do what? That individual just walks away.

There are a lot of men and women willing to commit to favours in order to make their careers work. To each his own. I’m not judging them.

There is no point in exposing these people right now, because we have rapists — a woman was recently raped in broad daylight in Chennai and then an auto driver filmed the crime and shared it. Why couldn’t that auto driver gather 10 men and beat up the rapist (rather) than filming the victim? We will not do it.

What do you get by even banning such men [who seek sexual favours to offer work]? There is no fear of the law. Maybe we need some strict action like the way it’s done in Saudi Arabia.

How was your experience shooting with a dupatta lit with tiny LED bulbs?

We shot that song in one night, as Raj and I didn’t have dates. The whole concept was to keep it very desi [Indian] but at the same time try and do something different with it so that the youth and the wedding audience can be attracted to it. It’s purely a promotional song. The LED lights are not distracting. I was holding the battery in hand. Some girls feared that we could get a shock, but so be it.

People have now been asking me on social media where they can get LED dupattas! A friend of mine just messaged saying her brother is getting married and she wants an LED dupatta. I don’t know how it happened, but we got these dupattas made.

Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana song: LED dupattas give Rajasthani folk tune 'Pallo Latke' a new twist

And I have never seen Govind Namdev dance. How did that happen?

He is so cute! He had proper practice sessions. He told me, ‘Come on, Kriti, practise with me.' He really enjoyed himself. You didn’t need to convince him.

What’s next for you after Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana?

I’ll take a couple of days to chill out with Ratna Sinha and then, on 13 November, I start shooting for Yamla Pagla Deewana 3. I will be simultaneously shooting for Veere Di Wedding. And of course I will be doing whatever Ratna Sinha does next.

So, are you dating each other?

It’s so easy to date her! She gives me my space, loves me unconditionally. Our habits are very similar. We bitch about the same people. This is a relationship made in heaven.

Any gossip that you can share with us?

No, we only share with each other. We talk about a Mehraji a lot. You will never know who Mehraji is (laughs). That’s our code language. You will never be able to figure that out.