'Being a small-town girl has helped me play different characters, feel emotion, and gain from my experiences because I have lived that life.'
Kritika Kamra makes her Bollywood debut with Mitron, and she obviously loved the experience.
The television actress has been a part of showbiz for 10 years now, and it comes as a surprise that she did not star in a movie earlier.
But as she tells Rediff.com contributor Ramesh S: "I am proud of my choices; I'm sitting here because of them. I have no regrets."
How was your experience dancing to the popular garba songs, Kamariya and Sanedo in Mitron?
It was a lot of fun!
We shot the whole song in one day.
It was shot in Siddhpur, which is about two hours away from Ahmedabad.
It's a beautiful little village with some great architecture.
Since Sanedo is already a very popular song, I am glad that this year, I will have my own song to play (dance the garba) on.
Nitin Kakkar is known for his National Award-winning film Filmistaan while Sharib Hashmi, a noteworthy actor, has written the script. How was your working experience with them?
They are two gems of our industry.
Nitin sir completely changed me an actor, opened me up from within, and made me unlearn whatever I have learnt on television.
He gave me space to breathe, grow, and opened a new door for me.
I have started approaching so many things differently now.
What I love about him is that he is a non-conformist.
He is a brave film-maker; he takes decisions that most people don't.
From his casting to the films he chooses, he does them with his own beliefs and on his own terms.
For him to believe in me is one of the biggest compliments I can ever get.
For Sharib, I have admired him since Filmistaan and was very excited to meet him.
The dialogues are also penned by him, so I would say that he brought life to our characters.
Only an actor can write such dialogues because he knows how it is being done.
Why did you make your movie debut after so long?
I had been on the brink of it, where films had even been announced, but they did not take off.
Sometimes I would wonder what is wrong, but after I signed Mitron, I understood why it was meant to happen this way.
I could not have asked for a better launch pad.
It's hard to get a good film-maker and a good script, where the female part is not just an accessory.
You have been a part of television for almost 10 years now. How has the journey been?
Very good, very rewarding.
Whenever I feel low, I look back or talk to my parents and remind myself where I came from. That gives me new zeal to keep going forward.
I always feel this is not the end of my story, and that feeling is very important to me.
I never dreamed about becoming an actor.
I have been a filmi child like most Indian kids, dancing in front of TV sets, but I come from a family of educationists.
Becoming an actor was never an option.
So coming from a different world and making my own space is what my parents feel proud of.
How did you bag your first TV show?
I was in NIFT (National Institute Of Fashion Technology) during that time and still remember that I was wearing a friend's oversized men's jacket.
Some people, who were auditioning (new talent), approached me.
I went and they handed me a script which had a tomboy role because I looked like one that day.
Two months after that, I got a call about my selection.
I said yes, took a risk and quit college, moved to Mumbai and now, here I am.
Your character Dr Niti in the serial Kuch Toh Log Kahenge became very popular. How was that experience?
When I was called for the first time, I wasn't very sure about doing Kuch Toh Log Kahenge.
Though Rajan Shahi (producer) had made popular shows like Sapna Babul Ka...Bidaai and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, I never imagined myself in that space.
At first, I thought it would not be my kind of show, but then the makers told me it is an official adaptation of the Pakistani television drama Dhoop Kinare. They asked me to watch it.
I called my mother to talk about it. She was surprised and educated me that Dhoop Kinare was an iconic show.
So I decided to be a part of it.
What I enjoyed most about the show was that it captivated the urban TV audience, which is very rare.
It also attracted the male audience, which is also against the norms because people think television is for housewives and women only.
But I have more men than women coming to me and saying they liked the show.
It was like a game-changer for me.
You once said you don't enjoy saas-bahu dramas. Don't you think it would have helped you gain stardom faster?
Yes, it could have helped me with popularity or money, but I prefer the long run.
I have constantly stayed away from such dramas.
But I don't looked down upon them because clearly there is an audience for it. These shows get higher TRPs.
But somehow, these kitchen dramas or saas-bahu dramas, which have a supernatural craze these days, have not appealed much to my sensibilities.
I get attracted to those roles, where I can see myself. For instance, I like to play young characters of my age, so I don't want to go through (time) leaps and become somebody's sans.
At the same time, I don't want to be a bahu who is being tortured.
I have always wanted to play a career-oriented woman with some purpose in life rather than just a nice daughter or daughter-in-law.
I am proud of my choices; I am sitting here because of them. I have no regrets.
You have been part of short films and Web content at a time when people were shying away from it. Now, everybody is doing it.
You know, I was saying the same thing today, that I did short films before they were cool.
At that point, it was an eye-opener for me.
I did short films because I knew those film-makers and writers who wanted to become directors. They had good scripts and I was tired of doing the same kind of work.
It needed only two-three days of a shoot, and to give such kind of commitment was nothing.
We shot in somebody's house, I bought my own clothes, and had no hair or makeup.
Obviously, I didn't made any money out of them, even though they are still getting millions of views.
I did those films just for exercise.
The response was overwhelming.
Last time I checked, the views of Best Girlfriend -- one of my first short films -- was more than 40 million.
How tough is it for a girl from a small town to make it big without a mentor or a Miss India tag?
I am not trying to be as feminist, but it is not just about being a small-town girl -- it is generally difficult and more competitive for us because we have to prove ourselves to people.
We don't even get a starter.
That is why I always appeal -- give us the same opportunity and let the best one win.
Being a small-town girl has helped me to gain that richness in language and dialect.
It helped me play different characters, feel emotion, and gain from my experiences -- even though I am not a method actor -- because I have lived that life.
I encourage people to lead a varied life.
Apart from the casual sexism and the fact that we have to constantly fight for our rights, we are also under-rated. Because of our multi-tasking, people have started to appreciate us now.
You have been quite selective about television. Will you be selective in your films also, or are you open to multi-starrer films or item songs?
I might do it for diversity someday, but not right now.
There have been films offered me with a big star in it, but I was picky and felt like I had no scope to perform in it.
But I am realistic and so have to choose from the best of what is offered and available to me.
I can't make a wish list; I have to be practical.
Thankfully, television has given me good financial security for having the freedom to choose roles and wait for movies.
I hope I won't do any film just for the sake of it.
I would love to do an item song, just for diversity and if I have other meaty parts in my kitty as well.
Have you ever been star struck?
Fortunately, I got an opportunity to be a part of Kaun Banega Crorepati for the promotional of a show I was doing.
I still remember Mr Amitabh Bachchan was so particular that he asked his team to tell him everyone's names so that he could get familiar.
Before meeting him, I thought I must introduce myself, and I rehearsed a lot.
But when I came in front of his towering personality, I was simply dumbfounded.
He shook my hand, which was ice-cold in a non-air conditioned atmosphere, and then said, 'So Kritika, how are you today?'
I was completely speechless!