The game is on...

While Kartik Aaryan is being touted as the man of the hour, Kriti Sanon has been receiving rave reviews for her performances. Together, they are the talk of the town, writes RAJIV VIJAYAKAR

Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon

Individually, they have excelled in their films, and luckily both began their careers with a hit — Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011) and Heropanti (2014). Kartik Aaryan excelled amidst five more newcomers — two of them male. Kriti Sanon too made her mark in a film designed as a launch vehicle for star son Tiger Shroff.

Their one common point is that they have both professionally moved on — to enact small-town characters after Kartik was an urban boy in his hits (also including Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety) and Kriti essayed the glamorous, urban babe as well (Dilwale, Raabta). Another common point is their identification with romantic comedies, which now makes them essay a live-in couple in Mathura in their new release, Luka Chhupi.

With their latest successes to live up to in Sonu Ke Titu and Bareilly Ki Barfi respectively, the Gwalior-born Kartik and Delhi girl Kriti are both excited about their new film.

“I am excited more than nervous,” confides Kartik. “The trailer and songs have all got a very positive response, touch wood. And yes, the film’s best portions have not been shown in them. They are hilarious!”

He adds, “This is my first full-fledged small-town character, I play Guddu Shukla, the star reporter from a small-town newspaper called Mathura Live. Sonu, in my last film, was an urban, street-smart guy of the type found in metros. A lot of things he did, though for the right cause, were actually questionable and grey. Guddu is honest and vulnerable and does all the right things. Though I am a small-town guy myself — from Gwalior — there is a difference. In Gwalior, we speak proper Hindi, while Mathura has a dialect on which I had to work.”

Changing perceptions

Adds Kriti, “Any actor wants to select a mix of roles and no one wants to choose bad films. But from a Delhi girl shown to be a glam heroine, Ashwini Iyer Tewary changed my perception when she visualsied me as the small-town girl of Bareilly Ki Barfi. If that one person believes in you, and stakes something on you, and the film is a success, it opens a few doors. People’s perception of me — though I am curious how people form perceptions only after two films — changed, my opportunities changed. Before that, no one had imagined me in this kind of role!”

On a lighter note, what are their memories of Luka Chhupi the game, which is nothing but the classic hide-and-seek?

Kartik replies, “Who hasn’t played hide-and-seek in childhood? Like everyone, I too would cheat, like not counting till 100, or opening one eye slyly!” Grins Kriti, “For me, the game of Luka Chhupi has had so many versions! I played it as a kid, with brothers. Then I grew a little older and began playing it outside home with friends. Then there were more different versions — like I would hate yellow dal and I would devise ways to throw it away secretly so that mom would think I had eaten it!”

She smiles and says, “Finally, if I liked a boy and was speaking with him on the landline, my mom would pick up the extension, apologise, and say she is hanging up. From the sound, it was clear that she would actually do so after many seconds, and until that time, my friend and I would be quiet! Mom would always know the difference between normal friends and crushes, and that too was a kind of hide-and-seek!”

Relatable

How will the audience reconcile with the live-in concept explored here, especially since this has been shown to happen in a small town in this film?

“Actually, our trailer has been loved more in the small towns, where it has got more views than even some of the big films,” says Kartik.

“That has been beyond expectations. The story is relatable too — it is the first time that a relationship like this has been shown with the couple living in with the boy’s entire family! The film is not preachy. Before this, live-in relationships have been explored on a serious level in our films,” he adds.

Kriti agrees to the uniqueness of the “living-in with family” part. “The first time I heard about living-in was when I was in college. At that time, it was a big deal, and virtually like a taboo. I lived a middle-class protected life and even my relatives, including those around my age, would frown at it. In fact, when I began modelling, they all were shocked, and declared that models and actresses do not get married! The spectrum of their thought was very restricted, the sense of right and wrong very narrow, and rigidly black and white.”

Kriti elaborates on her views today and says, “As you keep growing, and especially in this industry, you come across so many people from different backgrounds. Today, I would say that living-in is okay if you are sure! Most engaged couples also present their best side before marriage and we never come to know the negatives. I would probably not do it myself as my parents will not approve of it at all, but if I do, it will be for making sure of things, and not for the fun of it.” Kartik concurs that he would not do it either, because his parents too (who have come to live with him in Mumbai just four months back) would not like it. “I will have to find and live in a different house!” he grins. “And that will not happen as the only flipside of my success is that I am not able to give them sufficient time.”

How do they look at the road travelled and their future endeavours?

Says Kriti, “Besides Arjun Patiala, there is Panipat, in which I am doing the role of Parvatibai Sadashivrao, a woman who accompanied her husband all through the third battle of Panipat.” And Kartik, for whom the responsibility has skyrocketed after a huge success like Sonu…, says, “For someone who wanted to act since the ninth standard, the next step is coming to the point where scripts are written for me!”

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