In the recently-released Mimi, currently streaming on Netflix, Kriti Sanon plays the role of a young dancer, aspiring to become an actress, who agrees to become a surrogate for an American couple in order to fund her career. She talks about what went into the preparation for the role, how the film gave her new wings as an artist, and her upcoming much-talked about project, Adipurush.
Rohini Ramnathan: Congratulations on a fine performance. You did a film with a great actor like Pankaj Tripathi, and it's your performance which is being talked about. This doesn't happen quite often and I think it's a big thing in itself. What do you have to say about that?
Kriti Sanon: I have to give this to the character. Sometimes, a character receives so much love that if you have justified the character well, it gets the appreciation. The film is about Mimi – she's the central character, so you are bound to see a lot of me and a lot of shades of the character. I was surrounded with such amazing actors and a director [Laxman Utekar] who is so emotionally sound – he understands comedy but he also understands emotions very well. It is overwhelming when I get a response like this.
Also, this film has been really special to me and is really close to my heart. I have felt it way deeper than other films, it's been my most challenging character also because it just had so much to do. She starts from one point in the first half, ends up at another in the second. It has that graph that gives you so much to do as an actor. So sometimes when characters give you so much, you give them back in return through your performance.
RR: Talk to me about how preparing for this role was different and how you feel you grew as a performer with Mimi?
KS: I think I want to grow as a performer, as a person, as an actor with every film – because if you are not learning something from every project that you're doing, then you are not growing, you're just where you are. I don't want to be stagnant. But there are some films and characters that come and untie the knots inside you. You get closer to your true potential. This film, with the range that it had for me to do, opened some knots in me and I realized I could go higher and fly higher. There are so many things that, as actors, we define to be our potential. I like to do a hit and trial and do something different that I'm not always doing. I am actually a switch on/switch off person in front of the camera. If I'm crying and you cut the scene, I can start laughing again. I don't take my personal emotions on-screen and vice versa. I've always been like that, but for the first time, in this film, I actually broke down and couldn't control my emotions after a scene [in which Mimi breaks down while powdering her face in front of the mirror]. I'd always heard about this happening with other actors, but when it happened to me, it was shocking.
But then, it's is so satisfying and liberating as an actor because you realize, 'Oh! I can do this too!' I don't want to define my process, why do I have to define it? Let me explore; magic happens when you explore, when you are not just being true to the rules in your flowchart.
What do you think a Mimi would do for you? What do you wish it does for you? For example, can you command your price now? You've been vocal about the fact that there is a pay disparity. How do you feel now, how will things change for you?
Your price should only depend on the number of audiences you are able to gather on your own. If you're able to get those numbers, then gender shouldn't matter to the producer. It should just depend on your talent. If you're able to bring in the same number of audiences and your film is earning the same amount of money as that of a male actor's film, then it shouldn't matter to the producer, it should be balanced.
I feel that sometimes, we, as actors, have to prove that we are bankable and can do this on our own. It's business at the end of the day. As of now, I have to see what happens after Mimi, but I think it's very important for all women in general to value themselves, to know their value, what they're bringing to the table, and to just know that they are worth it. So we need to put our foot down sometimes and say, 'I am worth it and if it doesn't work for you, you can take someone else.'
RR: Adipurush has been in the buzz for quite some time now. And we're very happy we are very happy to know that you'll be playing the role of Sita. Everybody is so emotional about this role. Did you feel this as a pressure point when you signed up for it?
I didn't take it as a pressure point. I felt that it was a very big honour. I felt what I am getting to play and do, not too many people can claim that. Yes, there is a pressure of not crossing any boundaries and not hurting anyone's sentiments. As you said, people are very sentimentally attached to this character and this story. We've seen this story so many times on TV, and we know it since childhood. I think there is a little weight to the character, so you have to keep yourself in check whether you are doing something wrong or are doing something which digresses from the image of the character. But I've said this before that I'm blessed that I'm surrounded by the correct people who have that respect themselves and have done the full research and it's being made with very good intentions, keeping the respect and aura of the character in mind. So I hope we end up doing well.