Kirti Kulhari on working on Mission Mangal, and making her mark through small roles in big films
'I am happy that everybody is getting comfortable with the idea of co-starring with other people who are probably at the same level,' says Kirti Kulhari.
Kirti Kulhari, who has had a decent run at the box office has also established herself as an actress with great potential, may enjoy doing romantic comedies, but it is the hard-hitting dramas like Pink, Indu Sarkar and Uri : The Surgical Strike that are giving her recognition, and putting her in the spotlight.
Her next is the Independence Day release, Mission Mangal, which is based on true events of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launching the Mars Orbiter Mission, Mangalyaan. She will be seen alongside a huge ensemble cast, comprising Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Sharman Joshi, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu, and Nitya Menon. “The subject of Mission Mangal is exciting. It’s through this film that a huge victory and achievement of our country could reach the masses. I am playing a scientist, which I haven’t done before, and I knew that there are seven to eight more people who are walking along with me which made my job easy as an actor,” says Kirti.
The kind of roles, mostly of an independent individual, that have been coming to Kirti, are probably cut for her strong personality. But the actress is longing to do a romantic comedy. In fact, she started her career with the fun film Khichdi: The Movie and further, she also made us laugh in the Irrfan Khan-starrer black comedy Blackmail. “I would love to do rom-coms but somehow it is felt that people who have a strong personality, and those who look empowered don’t have a romantic side to them (laughs). Four More Shots Please! is a kind of fun show but I am open to everything. I haven’t reached a stage where I could write my own scripts but different scripts will come my way. There are variety of stories to be told without being repetitive but there should be people to write them, and until I get that, how will I do different things?” she says.
Kirti has been part of many ensemble cast films. The actress has often said that she does not believe in the first lead or the second lead when asked why she was not seen in solo leads, “Because an actor is an actor and I want to stay away from these conversations because it demotivates people who call themselves actors the moment they get stuck in this lead and second lead business,” she reasons.
“And the very fact that I have done this film I am proving exactly that. I am speaking through my actions. I am happy that everybody is getting comfortable with the idea of co-starring with other people who are probably at the same level, which we don’t see much in Bollywood. When a director approaches me, they don’t come with thoughts that it is not a so-called lead so how will I talk to her? But if there is something very interesting I am there."
Hence, when a fan recently asked her that why she is not seen in lead roles despite good work to her credit, she replied, “I want to understand what lead role means. When I did Uri, in my head, I am the lead. I am playing Seerat Kaur. In your head, lead comes because you see the hierarchy of stardom, and that is how people look at it. In Four More Shots..., I am sharing that lead space with three other girls but I am still the lead. I am doing Bard Of Blood and I am the lead. The Girl On The Train, which was recently announced, has Parineeti (Chopra) , Aditi (Rao Hydari), and me. Things are changing, and it is surely going to inspire others in the industry to do the same, to take up more films where there will be others too.”
“Whether I have five scenes or 50, I put in the same hard work. I believe that a film should never be bigger than the actor. I don’t want to be bigger than the story. When the film has failed but an actor stands out then the film has failed for me. I said yes to Uri because of the subject, which is so big. I was very excited playing Seerat Kaur, and worked on it as hard as Indu Sarkar," she says.
“Even if I am playing a glamorous character but what am I doing in the film? Am I there? Maybe at some point, I will be like, ‘Okay, let’s just be there somewhere’, but only if it benefits my positioning because my ultimate goal is that my important work should reach everybody. If by doing a commercial film, I am able to reach the masses, and it is benefiting me that way then I will probably stand there looking pretty,” she further adds.
But what Kirti is very particular about is not repeating a character, so much so that when she was given the part of a Lucknow girl in Mission Mangal, she did not want to repeat the characterisation of Pink, in which she had also played a Lucknow girl. “I play Neha Siddiqui in Mission... and I have played Falak Ali in Pink. Initially. I was like, ‘Arre yaar, again a girl from Lucknow’. I didn’t want to repeat myself. So I tried to understand about the Siddiqui community, and do it little differently,” says Kirti. “I usually develop a background for my characters, which I did after discussing with my director (Jagan Shakti). After which, I read about the actual mission. My department in the film is called ‘Satellite Autonomy’, and I tried understanding that. I saw Apollo 13, the documentary, as well as the Tom Hanks film. I have prepped whatever was required, and besides that, I went on sets, and had fun. It is one of those films where people may not come out and say what a brilliant performance because the film is much bigger than I am or anybody who is part of the film,” she adds.
The not-so-diplomatic actress had a fitting reply when asked if it is still important for an actress to work with a Khan? “No, I don’t think so. I think it is all changing because the individual has tried to walk on a different path other than what was supposedly laid out for you. Also, with different platforms available, you can reach out to the world in different ways. Like through OTT platform, Amazon (Prime Video) and Netflix, you are reaching almost 180 countries at the same time. What bigger satisfaction than being watched in so many countries? Web space content wise is giving competition to Bollywood, which is also upping their game. All of this put together, all those benchmarks are changing,” says Kirti.
Kirti will be next seen in the upcoming Shah Rukh Khan production, Netflix India Original show Bard Of Blood, based on the 2015 espionage novel of the same name by Bilal Siddiqui, alongside Emraan Hashmi. It is slated to premiere on the platform on 27 September. Then, she will be seen essaying the role of a British cop in the Ribhu Das Gupta-directed Hindi remake of Hollywood film The Girl On The Train, which also stars Parineeti. "It's my fourth project with an all female ensemble cast after Pink, Four More Shots Please!, and Mission Mangal, and I am really enjoying being in this space,’ said the actress, who leaves for London for the shoot on 15 August.
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