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Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY

At length we speak to the rising star Kiara Advani, who is gradually making a niche for herself with a lot more hard-work and effortless acting. Last seen in, LUST STORIES where she was appreciated a lot and it became a turning point in her career. Here, in a candid mood she shared her ‘KABIR SINGH’ journey, about being in the best phase of her career amidst much more…

What makes ‘Kabir Singh’ more special?
Well, a) for me this is my first love story – it’s a very passionate, intense, romantic, film which has a lot of rawness and realness to it.  Like I said, it’s my first ever love story and I could have not asked for better opportunity as a love story, romantic film than ‘Kabir Singh’. It’s the remake of original ‘Arjun Reddy’ which is a cult film that just came, and we haven’t seen such a love story for so long that is so real, honest and unapologetic about the way it was told. There was nothing idealistic about it, and trying to make it look perfect in a certain way, it is as flawed and imperfect as reality is. And the way Sandeep sir has captured the honesty of a love story and created this journey from his own life; that is something that is being remade with the same director. I’d seen the original so I know that nobody but Sandeep sir could make this film, specifically when it’s very close to his heart and for me that was really exciting.

Is there any change that has been made in the Hindi version?
It’s the same director, same man and it’s his vision so the only changes are today because we are taking from the south to the north; the demographic has changed, and the language has changed.  I remember when I watched the original I never realised I wasn’t watching a Hindi language film because everything felt so universal that you could connect with it so easily, regardless whether you knew the language or not. So, it is a remake, I think we have tried to bring some originality to it by the way Shahid and I have approached our characters yet keeping the core and the core emotions the same; what it is meant to be and what it was.

How much have your counterpart performances in the original influenced your performance?
So, after I signed the film, I did not actually go back and watch the original film. I’d seen it much before I was offered the film. So I did not want to go back and watch the original, I wanted to just follow Sandeep sir’s vision because it’s the same person who is directing me and has directed Shalini so naturally there would be a lot of similarities in how he would want the character. Because her performances is also drawn from his direction and guidance so I wanted to do it without thinking and I didn’t want to do the same thing and didn’t even want that thought cross my mind. I just wanted to stay true to his vision so I stopped looking at the original. And, I think for me I’ll know when the reviews are out.

What do you have to say about the character Kabir Singh and to be having a lover like him?
Kabir is a very passionate lover, a much protected lover, he is someone who loves very passionately and I think his love for Preeti is what he can’t go beyond; and what ends up happening is self-destruction. And I think every single person who has been in love and has gone through a heart-break has sort of dealt with some level of what Kabir is going through. It is a moment in your life when you feel low if you have loved someone so deeply.

You have been part of two huge south films; first one with Mahesh Babu was the highest- grossing and then with Ram Charan. So, are you going to continue this balancing act between Bollywood and south films?
I am hoping to, I would really like to continue and entertain the south as well; if I get the opportunity like I did get my first two opportunities in Telugu films which were massive and interesting projects. I am reading a few scripts and very much in touch with my south Indian industry and if I get a great opportunity and a great script then why not!

“I got lucky that I had Shahid playing Kabir, because he is such a fine actor that there was no effort; it felt effortless”

Do you believe this is the best phase for you at this point of time, in terms the kind of work you are getting?
I think finally I am getting these opportunities, when you dream being an actor at that point you think the hardest thing is your first film – like ‘how I’m I going to get my first opportunity?’ Namely you don’t realize that after your first film, getting more opportunities can be equally harder.  Because when my first film didn’t click, it didn’t give that instant connection with the audience or the industry for that matter; it was a little disheartening.   That’s when I thought did I get another opportunity and now where will my career go?  I almost thought of rethinking but I had this confidence in myself that I knew I can act and I will not give up on it.  I will go back do everything it takes from auditions, meetings, after ‘Fugly’ there were people from the industry who were not so open to even meet me. It wasn’t easy and I don’t think you have to take that way as disheartening; it only makes you stronger and makes you work harder.  I didn’t let things dishearten me and today those are the very same directors who have seen my work in ‘M.S Dhoni’, ‘Lust Stories’ and now ‘Kabir Singh’.  They liked my work and now are calling me to work with them, so I think you just have to work really hard and when that opportunity comes; be ready and not sit at home.  I remember after my first film when things didn’t go right, I actually went into the whole mould of not getting out of my house and go anywhere. You tend to start rethinking a lot and that’s when my mum told me, ‘you have to work hard, because if you sit at home, no one is going to come knocking the door – saying we have a script for you’. Thus, I believe you got to go out and be prepared and be ready when the opportunity comes to you.  Every year there will be five debutants, in this generation there are so many children of your favourite actor’s either son or daughter so you get excited to watch them. I was very excited to watch Janhvi because Srideviji was my favourite actor or to watch Sara Ali Khan for that matter. Every year so many debutants coming in, you have to also be out there.   I think work brings work, so I will take up offers whatever I get at that point of time.  I believe there is an audience for every film so you never know what clicks. Right now I feel I am at the best phase of my life and I am enjoying this process.

There is more emphasis on actresses starting here then going to the south becoming stars and then coming back to Bollywood, what is your take on it and do you think it changes a person’s perspective?
When I took up my first south film offer, I was very lucky that I got a very perfect platform almost like a dream launch. In terms of having a perfect director, having a super star Mahesh Babu and this duo was coming back with the film in which I was there, so it was naturally a big deal for me.  Even though it was a Mahesh Babu’s film, people noticed me in the film because what happens when there is a super star; you don’t end up seeing the girl but the girl had an integral part in the screenplay and that is what excited me and that is why I took up this opportunity. Initially I wasn’t prepared to do a film in south, because I had a doubt if I could pull it off, will the language be a barrier for me?  But something fearless happened to me and I think that was one of the best decisions I took.  Then I thought how hard language can be, at the end of the day I am an Indian.  I just went with my gut and I did that film, and after I did that film – the love that I saw from the people there; I just realized I want to be a pan India artist. It doesn’t matter if it’s a south film, or a Hindi film. I just feel today content is what matters and language is not a barrier.  Today I am doing a remake of ‘Arjun Reddy’ and ‘Arjun Reddy’ is a film that so many people have watched even if they were not from the Telugu audiences thus today language is not a barrier.  I don’t look at it like a perspective, for me it was never a calculative decision it was just from the heart and all my decisions have been from my heart, if I want to do it then I am not bothered about the language.

Lastly, how was your experience working with Shahid Kapoor?
Working with Shahid was pretty good, between action and cut it just felt like we were not acting, it was just happening organically.  And for a film like this, which is a romantic film – a love story, it is very important to feed off each other’s energy especially when we are playing completely opposite characters. Preeti is completely opposite of Kabir and Kabir is that one who is extremely vocal and expressive, he is antsy, he is reactive. Preeti is more responsive, she is demur, she is the simpler one, and she is the calming factor in Kabir’s life.  I got lucky that I had Shahid playing Kabir, because he is such a fine actor that there was no effort; it felt effortless. And a lot of credit goes to Sandeep sir because he recognises an honest take and he captures that, and he knows when he gets the honest take. The three of us had spent a lot of time together sitting and reading, reconstructing the scene just making it our own. And Shahid was very easy to work on set, he came like a child he doesn’t have the baggage of him being Shahid Kapoor and has so much experience, even though he has all that.  He used to take my opinion, there was a lot of team work too and he made me comfortable to better the shot so it was an easy, chilled, team work sort of equation and a great experience.

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