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'I like to listen to my heart'

By MOHNISH SINGH
May 11, 2022 09:24 IST
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'When you are starting your journey, people say that's the hardest part.'
'But I feel that when you get a taste of success, when you get a taste of things working out for you, it is harder.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Kiara Advani/Instagram

Kiara Advani has been hitting her stride in the past couple of years with back-to-back successes.

She is currently thrilled about her upcoming film, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, which, as the title suggests, is the sequel to the 2007 blockbuster Bhool Bhulaiyaa.

The actress discusses her fond memories of watching Bhool Bhulaiyaa as a 15 year old, telling Rediff.com Contributor Mohnish Singh, "I am not a horror movie fan because I get spooked very easily. So, for me, it is important that if I watch a horror movie, I must choose one that I will enjoy."

What are your memories of watching Bhool Bhulaiyaa?

I think Bhool Bhulaiyaa was the first horror film that I watched in a cinema hall.

I was 15 years old.

I am not a horror movie fan because I get spooked very easily.

So, for me, it is important that if I watch a horror movie, I must choose one that I will enjoy.

Bhool Bhulaiyaa has the right amount of spook and comedy, that's why it clicked.

Actually, it is a cult film.

Even today, if you watch it, it looks so fresh. Having to take this franchise forward is an honour.

It was a no-brainer when (Director) Anees Bazmee sir called me and narrated the script to me.

Of course, it is an entirely new film; the storyline is new, it is fresh.

The premise of this film is completely different but we are keeping the essence of the original in this so that you feel the nostalgia, whether it is the title track or the popular song Ami Je Tomar and, of course, the character of Manjulika, the ghost.

But everything else is completely new.

 

IMAGE: Kiara with Shahid Kapoor in Kabir Singh.

You portray different characters in films. How do you think your image is being perceived through the eyes of the audience?

After Kabir Singh, my next film Good Newwz released just four months later.

I remember everyone had just connected Preeti with me, that I was actually Preeti, and when Good Newwz released, they were like, 'Is she the same girl?'

That's when I felt that okay, people like seeing me in different characters and shades.

It feels like when you play a certain type, people assume that only those types of roles come to you.

But in my case, the same role has never come to me. I never got another character like Preeti or Monica.

As an actor, you want to be versatile.

Luckily, my directors have also seen that in me.

It is encouraging and definitely motivating.

IMAGE: Kiara with Neha Dhupia in Lust Stories.

Have you been choosy about scripts and projects?

There was a time in my life when I did not have so many choices.

Then things started looking up.

I started getting some of the best offers in the industry after people took notice of me from Lust Stories.

My career changed with Kabir Singh.

But I have always been very instinctive in my decisions.

I feel I am a heartfelt person with my choices, visions, and everything in life, in my personal life, and work life.

I like to listen to my heart.

When you are starting your journey, people say that's the hardest part. That's the part when you have to be careful, what you choose, what you do.

But I feel that when you get a taste of success, when you get a taste of things working out for you, it is harder.

Because when you are starting off, you have nothing to lose.

Your expectations of yourself are not very high.

But once people have accepted you, that's when there are expectations from people.

IMAGE: Kiara and Kartik Aaryan in Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2.

Kangana Ranaut's Dhaakad is releasing alongside your film. Do you feel any pressure?

I think there has been a time in our industry where for two years, no films released. So the stakes are so high and everything is at risk financially and commercially.

So keeping that in mind, I want a lot of films to work because we want to revive the industry.

The reason we are here is because we are cinema lovers, so I would wish for each film to be loved and accepted for all the hard work put in.

It's not just the actors; there are so many people working on the film.

They deserve that credit, from the director and producer to the technicians... we are all looking forward to the upcoming films.

IMAGE: Kiara with Akshay Kumar in Laxmii.

This is your second horror movie after Laxmii. What made you say yes to it?

What I loved about the script was that, apart from being a horror comedy, it was a family entertainer.

I was reflecting on my career and the kind of films I wanted to do, and I felt this year, I want to do films where an entire family can go to a theatre and watch them.

I am saying this out of the personal void that I felt.

I grew up going to the theatres to watch films. That's why I wanted to become an actor.

For the last two years, we have all been watching amazing content (on OTT). I realised that the challenge for artists today is that we need to make films that have high content and also be commercially viable.

We have to have that marriage of commercial and content, and it's very difficult in a country like ours where you have such diversity.

You want to make a five-year-old child and a 50-year-old person enjoy the same film. So how do we strike that balance?

The best part of it is how we make it in a way that it is not just an individual watch. Because on OTT, we watch Web series, we watch certain kinds of films that you can enjoy with people and also enjoy yourself.

But there is this magic in watching films together.

This community-watching experience made me feel that this year, I really want to make films that people can watch together and enjoy.

I felt it just so happened that the films I have been working on in the last two years will release this year, and all of these films have that community-watching appeal.

I feel you will enjoy them individually, but you will enjoy them ten times more when you watch with an audience.

I mean, sitting in the theatre and getting spooked together, laughing together, it's a different feeling. This is what Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 has.

IMAGE: Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan in Bhool Bhulaiyaa.

The character Manjulika has been iconic, so there will be comparisons. How will you beat that?

Naturally, there will be comparisons. Not only with the characters but also with the film.

But I hope people watch it as a new film.

Of course, when the title is Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, it helps naturally for people to be intrigued and excited.

They will be like, 'Oh, the first one was so good, how will this one turn out?'

We have tried from our side.

We have made our own version of a story that had the essence of what Bhool Bhulaiyaa was.

Like I said, it is not a reboot, it is a franchise.

It is a new film, a new story.

But the title is the same, the names of a few characters are the same.

Like, there is Chota Pandit because that will keep the nostalgia intact.

Obviously, Manjulika is going to be there.

I am not worried about being compared to Vidyaji (Balan) because I am not playing that character.

She was outstanding in the first part. I wish I could have, you know, played a character like that.

But this is so different that pressure is not there. It's not the same at all.

You have seen a glimpse of the supernatural elements in the film. Those three-four shots of me looking possessed (in the trailer) were actually on the script level, when they were narrating to me.

That was the scene that made me say yes to the film.

I found it very thrilling and entertaining.

Chinni Prakash sir has choreographed that whole sequence and it's a crucial moment in the film also.

It is a good twist that will keep coming.

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MOHNISH SINGH