Kriti Sanon on Raabta and the secret behind onscreen chemistry with Sushant Singh Rajput

Ever since the trailer of Dinesh Vijan’s Raabta was released on Youtube, a lot has been written about the onscreen chemistry between Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon. The two have been in the news over the past few months, and recently, Kriti went to the extent of stating that she doesn’t need to justify her relationship with her co-star. Even though both of them have reiterated that they are good friends, one can’t help but wonder if they share a deeper connection, if the trailer and promos of Raabta are anything to go by. After all, it’s not everyday that you see two people on screen who nearly convince you that they are in love.

So, what is it that makes two people click so well with each other? “You can’t pinpoint the reason behind it. We never worked on it consciously while filming. We didn’t know each other when we met for the first time for an audition. A lot depends on how well your energies match with each other, and it’s also about listening to each other and reacting accordingly. That’s when it becomes real,” Kriti Sanon says, adding, “It also depends on the way the characters and scenes are written. You are playing someone else in a film, and thus, the character’s energy becomes more important than just the actor’s energy. Before we started shooting Raabta, Sushant and I reached a stage where we understood how we would react in any given situation. Moreover, in the film, the two characters have a strong connect which they don’t realise for a while. I guess all this leads to great chemistry between two actors. I can only guess that (laughs).”

The actress had first met director Dinesh Vijan when he was pitching another script to her, but in the middle of their conversation, he began telling her the story of Raabta. Kriti recalls falling in love with it so much that couple of days later, she texted him asking why wasn’t he working on Raabta first. He called her to the studio and much to her surprise, Sushant was also present for the meeting. Dinesh asked both of them to perform a scene and after couple of takes, Sushant and Kriti got into the groove so well that if one forgot a line, the other would chip in. There was some spark between the two, and Dinesh was convinced that he found his lead actors.

“I love love stories, but of late, it’s become hard to find stories that are about pure love. There has to be a strong conflict, beyond the usual boy-meets-girl set up, which has to make you connect with the characters and their fate. That is something which I felt was quite interesting about Raabta. The tale is explored in two different time-frames, two different worlds. This was also the first time that I had the opportunity to explore two different characters. All of this put together made the project very exciting for me,” Kriti adds, explaining what she loved about the script.

In the film, Kriti plays Saira, a young girl who falls in love with Shiv (Sushant). Soon, both of them realise that they share a connection and that they go back a long long way. It’s this “other world” in Raabta that has become its USP, and the promos so far have highlighted the aspect quite well. In our recent interview with the film’s writers Siddharth and Garima, they shared that the flashback portion is set in a time frame when religion didn’t exist and it was all about survival of the fittest.

“We didn’t have a reference for this flashback portion. Although it lasts for just 20-30 minutes in the film, a lot of thought process went into making the audiences believe in the characters and the world they inhabit. We were aiming for a world which was quite rugged — almost tribal if I may say so. It’s set in a time when women aren’t treated well and were only considered fit for reproduction. It’s more about survival of the fittest and safeguarding your land,” the actress reveals.

A lot of research went into creating the look of this segment in the film, and Kriti credits Maxima Basu, the costume designer, for creating her look as a warrior named Saiba. “It used to take us three hours to get the hair and make-up done, and then an hour to take it off at the end of the day. You feel like a different person when you are in that look for so long,” Kriti laughs.

For Kriti, playing Saiba, who is almost like a warrior princess, took a lot more than just showing up on the sets. Right from her body language to her voice, the actress had to undergo a major transformation, albeit sub-consciously. “We discussed a lot about how Saiba would have grown up in a jungle, what sort of weapon training she would have undergone as a kid. All this makes her fearless and impulsive as a person. She isn’t scared of anyone and can go to any extent to protect her land. She also knows that she’s the most beautiful girl in her territory. Since she’s a warrior and fierce, she has to be always alert. I had to change my body language the moment Dinesh would shout ‘Action!’ on the sets because my shoulders are relaxed usually (laughs).  I had to be alert, and during the chase sequences, I had to remind myself that I had to run like a fearless girl which I’m not in normal life,” she laughs.

Water is an important element in the film and both the lead actors had to shoot underwater for several sequences. But there was a catch — neither of them knew how to swim. “I always say that we actors are quite lucky to be in a profession which teaches us so many things. I’ve always had a fear of being underwater; however, thanks to Raabta, I have gotten over it. I had to learn to swim and also underwent training in scuba diving. Both Sushant and I had to shoot underwater for 8-10 hours for few days and the thing about shooting underwater is that you are almost blind. Even though your co-star is right in front of you, it’s difficult to see them. This is exactly why knowing and being comfortable with scuba diving was so important for both of us. Thankfully, we had spent so much time together on the sets that we understand each other quite well. This is what I mean when I say that we didn’t have to try too hard to strike a chord,” Kriti confesses.

Apart from scuba diving, the aspect which the actress loved the most about Raabta experience was learning horse-riding. “It’s quite therapeutic and I want to get better at it,” she says, adding, “I could only practise for a month, which is nowhere close to mastering the art. I could barely manage it while shooting (laughs). But trust me, it’s a great feeling to bond with your horse. Now, I understand why people are so fiercely possessive about their horses.”

Giving a gist of how seriously she got into her new passion, Kriti says, “Few days before I had to shoot a horse-riding sequence, I went to ride the horse to feel the rhythm. If they aren’t trained properly, they get little fidgety if there’s a large crowd around. On the day of the shoot, my horse began to panic after seeing the crowd on the sets. I patted the horse to calm him down and thankfully, everything went well after that. Dinesh trained the shot. I think the bonding between me and the horse added a human touch to my character in the story. I can’t wait to continue learning this art. I’ve fallen in love with it.”

Evidently, she has put in a lot of effort into the film, but ask her if she has surprised herself in the process, you get a feeling that she’s quite nervous about how the film will be received. “I’ll know if I’ve surprised myself once the film releases (laughs). I understand that a lot of people are drawing comparisons between our film and Magadheera. There’s a reincarnation angle in both the films, but rest of the story, characters and screenplay are quite different. You’ll have to just wait and see what connects Shiv and Saira,” Kriti signs off.

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