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Lead pair of Heropanti, Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon, in conversation with team Box Office India

Box Office India (BOI): How did it all begin for you guys?

Tiger Shroff (TS): Ladies first!

Kriti Sanon (KS): I think Sabbir (Khan) sir had seen me in my Close Up ad and hence he approached me. I was asked to meet Sajid (Nadiadwala) sir and then Sabbir sir gave me a narration of the script and told me about the character. While listening to the narration, I was drawn in and reacted to it as a movie-goer would. I loved the story and the character, and we had a look test. That’s how Tiger and I met each other. There was a photo shoot, then I had a screen test, which was like an audition. The day we packed up on the screen test, Sabbir sir told me that we had to meet Sajid sir. On the way, he said, ‘Krits, in 10 minutes we will be signing the film.’ I was in shock because post-audition, the process usually takes much longer, a week to 10 days. But this happened so quickly.

TS: Mine is not such a long story. After I graduated from school, a lot of photos of mine were published in the newspapers and Sajid sir spotted me. One day, he contacted my manager, we had a meeting and Heropanti happened. And here I am!

BOI: You had a manager back then?

TS: Yes. I used to get offers while I was still in school and I eventually knew this was going to be my true calling. You see, academically, I was not very gifted but, physically, I was talented. So, I thought if I got a script which allowed me to express my talent, whether action or dance, I would take it up. Thankfully I was offered Heropanti during that time. Sajid sir told me the reason he chose me was my eyes. He said I had very innocent eyes and a tough body. He liked that combination.

BOI: When Sajid signed you, did he already have Heropanti in mind or was he keen on just launching you?

TS: Umm, that’s a very good question.

KS: (Cuts in) I think he already had Heropanti in mind.

TS: Yeah! They were basically looking for a fresh star cast. Besides, us, there are 23 other newcomers in the film. He wanted to do that, make a film with newcomers as he has never done that before. He has always worked with big stars.

BOI: Your debut film is called Heropanti and your father Jackie Shroff’s debut film was Hero. Was the title of your film derived from Hero?

TS: This film has nothing to do with my father’s film. They are two totally different love stories and the characters are totally different. My father and I are very different as individuals. The only similarity is that we have borrowed the signature tune of Hero and used it in the song Whistle baja.

BOI: Tiger, especially you, since you had been getting offers while you were still in school, what made you choose Heropanti?

TS: When I was in school, I was not in the least interested in acting in films. I was into sports. There was a time when I thought I would become a football player. Unfortunately, sports does not have much scope in this country, unless you’re a cricket player. So, after I graduated, I thought I would choose a career in the film industry as there were offers coming my way. Also, being a sportsperson, I had learnt to give everything I did a full 100 per cent.

BOI: What made you choose Heropanti over the other offers that came your way?

TS: Heropanti happened at a time when I finally decided to be an actor. It was the perfect launch pad because, not only is it an innocent and pure love story, it is also an action entertainer. It also has a completely new star cast, which made me feel so much more comfortable. It was very comfortable to work with Kriti as opposed to a senior actor. I think we were all groomed together, raised together, as it were, and that was part of the reason I chose Heropanti. Of course, the film also gave me a chance to show my talents.

BOI: You have been athletic since you were a child but did you focus on it more because of this film? What kind of preparation did you do for the film?

TS: Sabbir sir and I used to meet and chat a whole lot. He wanted to get to know me; he wanted to figure out my strengths and weaknesses so that he could highlight my talent and work on the weaknesses. There was a lot of discussion on how to mould the character according to best suit me. As far as training was concerned, I was prepared as far as dance is concerned. I also attended workshops because I am shy and I don’t open up easily. I don’t have many friends and I don’t have much of a social life. So opening up in front of the camera was tough. He made us go through a lot of look tests, photo shoots and workshops as part of my training.

BOI: What about you, Kriti, have you always wanted to be an actor?

KS: No, I am actually an engineer. I was born and raised in Delhi and I was always academically inclined. I had never acted in my life or done anything related to it. However, I liked to dance. When I was pursuing an engineering degree, in my second year, I thought I should give modelling a shot. It was a hobby and I thought it would be a great experience.

When I started shooting TV commercials, I grew to like being in front of the camera. Of course, commercials don’t require you really act but I began to enjoy the process more and more. My ad directors told me I had the ability to act and that I should explore it. Eventually, I started feeling that I could perhaps do it and turn it into a career.

My father is a chartered accountant and my mother a professor, so it was difficult to tell my parents that, after doing my B Tech, I wanted to go to Mumbai to pursue an acting career. But they have always supported me and it also happened that my father was working in Mumbai at the time. So I moved here and started looking for work.

BOI: You have also done a film down South.

KS: Yes. I first signed a Telugu film opposite Mahesh Babu. After shooting for around 25 days, I signed Heropanti. I was kind of simultaneously shooting for both films. Since I juggled both films, I completed them at around the same time. The Telugu film released in January.

BOI: Wasn’t juggling two projects hectic?

KS: Well, before that, I was modelling and studying at the same time. So I was used to a hectic schedule. In addition, the two films were in completely different languages and of completely different genres. While the South film was an action thriller, this is a romantic drama. It was very exciting as I had a bit of both. It took me 12 days to get used to the whole grind.

BOI: Has that film done well?

KS: Mahesh Babu is a superstar so we expect it to become a huge blockbuster. But it wasn’t a typical Telugu masala film. It was an experimental film, a psychological, action thriller. For a Mahesh Babu film, it didn’t do all that well but it did well overseas. Both our performances were appreciated and that was very satisfying.

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