Renuka Vyavahare (BOMBAY TIMES; June 28, 2017)

A n interview with the vivacious actress Kriti Kharbanda can easily be summed up as 'confessions of a talkaholic'. Meeting this South siren feels like bumping into an old friend with whom you can aimlessly chat about anything under the sun. The conversation meanders into random territories and you find yourself identifying with her idiosyncrasies. The Bengaluru girl talks about living alone, being a toughie and her upcoming release, Guest Iin London. Read on...

You were born in Delhi, then shifted to Bengaluru and now live in Mumbai. Which city are you most comfortable in?
I'm a loner and I'm most comfortable living by myself, but Bengaluru is home to me as my family is there. Having said that, once you come to Mumbai, you can't turn your back on it. I've grown close to Mumbai now. For someone like me who gets bored very easily, this life is perfect. I can't be at one place for too long. Travelling broadens your thinking as a person and as an actor. Also, I like to watch people; I go early to airports so that I can observe people. You can use that observation to your advantage when you are essaying a character. You can slip in some character traits of those people into your roles.

Has Maximum City changed you as a person?
You discover who you truly are only when you live alone. Mumbai is the only place where I have lived alone, so I had to be self-sufficient. I am a much happier person today. When I meet people, I meet them because I want to, not because I am lonely. Today, if I don't like someone, I make it very obvious. Mumbai has taught me to love and look after myself.

Looks like you've undergone a transformation of sorts.
A major transformation has happened to me in the past year. Earlier, I was always there for everyone, always giving and not receiving anything. But you soon realise that you cannot be nice to everybody all the time. I've stayed in a protected atmosphere back home. When you are alone in your apartment, you have to be self-sufficient. Today, I choose myself before everyone else. Mumbai has made me realise my worth. At three in the morning when you are upset, you are the only one who can hug yourself to sleep.

Since you are popular in South cinema, it must have been tough for you to start all over again in Bollywood?
My life had become monotonous, so the shift to Mumbai came as a good challenge but when you start from scratch, you value what you had. The leap was amazing. When I step out in Bengaluru or Hyderabad, I get mobbed. That doesn't happen here (Mumbai) and I would be lying if I say I don't feel insecure about that. Every person is insecure in his/her own way. I am glad that happened as it has made me who I am today.

Don't you think Bollywood has a wider reach?
Yes, because of the language. The whole of North India speaks Hindi. But you cannot deny how huge some stars are down South - Rajinikanth, Suriya, Mahesh Babu etc. have a massive fan following.

Don't you think actors from South are often stereotyped, especially when they try and make a foray in Bollywood?
Fortunately for me, there was no stereotyping as such but I am aware that it happens. Initially, people don't take you seriously. There is a perception that 'Ise glamour ke liye picture mein dal do'. I get asked if I can speak Hindi because I've done South films. But these weren't obstacles as such. My last name helped in a way. Also, I had a lead role in Raaz Reboot, so that helped too.

Did the film's failure deeply affect you?
I got a positive feedback for my role in Raaz Reboot but of course it hurt. A failure is bound to break your heart. I was bummed out that the film didn't do well. I personally thought it was a decent film. I wish it had done better but I did my best as an actor. There is nothing in my hands beyond a point. The one thing that I'd like to change about it is probably the result (laughs).

As an actor, what was the transition from horror to a full-fledged comedy like Guest Iin London (GIL)?
It was a relief because I wanted to try my hand at something different. Though I have had a career down South, most of my characters have been performance-driven even if they were bubbly. My character in GIL is exactly how I am. I got an opportunity to be myself on screen. Anaya Patel (her character in the film) is as whiny, emotional and talkative as I am in real life. I got to play a role that is much more than a love interest of someone. Also, I am super excited to have worked with actors like Tanve Azmi and Paresh Rawal in this film.

The story revolves around guests who overstay in someone's house. Have you faced that in real life?
I don't like visitors so the irritable expression in the film came naturally to me. I can't do small talk. I love people with whom I can share moments of comfortable silence. If I am quiet, it doesn't mean I am upset. I love talking and meeting people face to face, but that's outside. At home, I like my peace. A lot of my friends have still not seen my house in Mumbai because I mark my territory (laughs).

Any such particular incident that took you by surprise?
I was shooting in Hyderabad and was putting up at a hotel. A friend called to ask where I was as she was visiting the city. I shared my hotel details with her. The next day, I get a call from the reception saying my friend has showed up. She came to my room with her luggage and said, “Since we are both staying at the same hotel, why should I get another room?“ She stayed with me for four days. After much contemplation on the last day, I told her that I can't do this, I need my space. For a tiny person, I have a lot of confidence. No one messes with me!

Kartik Aaryan is known to be high on energy. How did the chemistry work between the two of you?
I thought Kartik would be a fun, chirpy person but he is actually a quiet guy. I didn't know that about him. He is very serious about his work. When you look at him, it doesn't feel like that. We didn't even have each other's phone numbers until almost 80 per cent of our film was shot! I keep teasing him that he was not nice to me initially and obviously he dismisses my claims. On a serious note, he comes with no baggage. I enjoyed working with him. We get along very well as friends since we are of the same age.

Do you still get asked if you are related to Kulbhushan Kharbanda?
Oh yes, I get asked if I am his daughter, granddaughter or niece. Even during Raaz Reboot, the makers asked me if I was related to him but I clarified that we just share our last name. I am a rank outsider. But thanks to him, in some way, people are able to relate to my name. Weirdly, I have never met him.