If there is an actress who has been having a dream run at the box office, it is Kiara Advani. Ever since she made her presence known as a sexually-unsatisfied wife in Lust Stories in 2018, the striking girl has gone on to be a part of some of the most successful projects in recent times. Movies such as Kabir Singh, Good Newwz, Shershaah, and Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2—which has grossed more than Rs 182 crore at the domestic box office—have made her a popular choice for filmmakers.
With her upcoming family entertainer JugJugg Jeeyo—also starring Anil Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor, and Varun Dhawan—Advani hopes to continue her winning streak. Here are some edited excerpts from a conversation with the actress.
It has been eight years for you in the industry. What does it take to sustain here?
When I debuted in the industry, it was with a film that didn’t do well commercially, but at that time everyone told me that if you’re a good actor, you will be able to stand the test of time. In retrospect, I have been appreciated for my performances and I am blessed that I have organically got versatile characters to play. They just came to me. Now, of course, I am very driven. I had Kabir Singh and in the same year, I had Good Newwz and three months later, Guilty came out. I got the chance to show my versatility and now I am specifically looking at different things to do.
What is needed - hard work, luck or talent?
All three! I think everyone works hard. Talent is necessary otherwise you can’t survive here. You will do one, two, or three films and you will be out. In the end, people want to see talent. They should want to watch you on screen. You have to have that likability factor. Some kind of luck is definitely needed because everyone’s intention is to make the best film but some work and some don’t. There is no formula to it.
You have been doing back-to-back promotions with Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and now JugJugg Jeeyo. What is your mantra to keep yourself going?
I don’t have a choice (laughs)! I am the kind of person who believes in energy. I feel grateful that I have these back-to-back releases and happy that they are from different genres, but both have the clean, family entertainment thread to them. One has done really well and we are very confident about this one too. I have never said this about any other film of mine but I truly believe that this will touch a lot of hearts. It will move you, make you laugh, and leave you with a bit of perspective in life. It also has a repeat value.
How was it working with Anil Kapoor?
He is the most driven person on the set. It’s amazing that being so legendary and after being a part of such iconic films, he still has the drive and wants to do his best. He wants to rehearse, prep, and do more takes and he is so enthusiastic. It’s been so many years but he is not the ‘theek hai, been there, done that’ kind of person. It’s like this is his first film. He comes with so much experience that he brings a lot on the table. God willing, I have the same kind of longevity in my career. I aspire to have the same enthusiasm and energy every time I do a film.
Neetu Kapoor plays your mother-in-law in the movie. How was it to work with her?
She has so much experience because she has been working since she was a child but the beauty is that she is so grounded. She also has this maternal instinct which makes it very comfortable as an actor to do intense scenes. One of my two favourite scenes is with Neetu ma’am. I remember both of us had tears in our eyes when we shot it. It was shot at 6 am and it was really cold. She had a long monologue and she did it so beautifully. You just want to listen to it. It’s beautiful to see a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law understanding each other at that moment. I know all the men who have watched it have choked, so women will naturally feel it.
You are also sharing screen space with Varun Dhawan for the first time. How is he as a co-star?
Varun and I are like Tom and Jerry—we are constantly fighting! Our director Raj was constantly telling us to stop laughing and behave like a mature couple on set. My off-screen equation with VD is very goofy. He is very childlike and he brings out the child in whoever is in front of him. He is a lovely soul.
Do you take work home with you, especially after filming intense scenes?
It tends to happen at times. When you do those scenes well, it feels great that you have managed to pull them off. It is a satisfying feeling but once you are in that zone—especially when it goes to such a high pitch emotionally—it takes a bit of time to go back to who you are. However, on this set, the environment was so much fun that I never took back any heaviness. After an emotional scene, someone would crack some joke and we would end up laughing. Some scenes would definitely move us and we would take some time to gather ourselves again but I think all four of us have the quality to laugh at ourselves.
You mention that this film will give the audience a different perspective about life to think about. Have you taken any such learnings from it?
Yes, there is a lot I have taken back with me. I feel every relationship has to be nurtured. It’s not always going to be sunny. There will be storms as well. I don’t feel that one should ever give up and one must put in their all to make that relationship work. The movie also gives a different perspective on how children see their parents’ relationship. We tend to assume that our parents’ relationship is perfect but that may not always be the case. I have seen a very happy marriage between my parents but even I have never sat down and asked them about their highs and lows. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit with your parents and see where they are.
As compared to intense roles, do you think these are more easy, breezy or did they come with their own challenges?
Every character you play comes with its own challenges. I think this is closest to my mindset and this is exactly how I think. It’s a very layered character. There was a lot of gravitas we had to bring to it. I am still young and unmarried, but I had to bring a sense of maturity to it which had to come in small, nuanced ways such as speaking a certain way or her stance in general. I feel people who have observed my work closely will be very proud that I took up a role like this. This is truly a character I resonate with the most. Her belief is to balance her family and her career, and I think that’s what young women today strive to do. We don’t want to leave one for another.