Kiara Advani
Kiara Advani Image Credit: Courtesy of Radhika Mehra

Bollywood actress Kiara Advani, who plays the object of desire in Shahid Kapoor’s ‘Kabir Singh’, claims the film about a toxic man battling alcoholism after a break-up isn’t problematic per se.

The trailer chronicles a strapping surgeon’s decay and decline as he hits the bottle with a vengeance, while pining for his ex-girlfriend, medical college junior Preethi (Advani). Did we tell you that Kabir Singh also has raging anger-management issues?

Ask Advani why Bollywood continues to romanticise stalking and toxic, pushy men with films such as ‘Kabir’, the actress defends her choice.

“Films shouldn’t be a moral science class,” said Advani in an interview with Gulf News tabloid!.

“This film is extremely raw and reflective of society… Nothing [stalking] is romanticised here… It’s a real look at our world and relationships today,” said Advani.

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Kabir’s unsavoury code of conduct where he smokes like a chimney and turns up drunk occasionally at work isn’t by any definition morally upright.

But Advani, 26, maintains that there’s more to the principal characters than their stormy, passionate relationship.

“Preethi and Kabir are genuine characters who are trying to understand the world around them … Just like all of us, they are learning how to be and what’s right and what’s wrong … Through the journey called life, they understand what’s good and what’s bad for them,” says Advani.

Advani made her Bollywood debut with ‘Fugly’ (2014) and has graduated to interesting roles in films such as ‘Lust Stories’ in which she plays a sexually repressed housewife. While that can be called her breakout role, she has also featured in films including ‘Kalank’ and ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’.

‘Kabir Singh’, based on the Telugu blockbuster ‘Arjun Reddy’ directed by Sandeep Vanga, is her first central role. It’s safe to say that all eyes are on her.

“I feel like it’s an examination and I am eager to know if I will clear or not,” Advani says.

As ‘Kabir Singh’ gears up to release in the UAE cinemas on June 20, Gulf News tabloid! spoke to the actress about her latest film, her journey in Bollywood and more …

Here’s her take on …

‘Kabir Singh’, the film: “This film is so real and raw. Its story is something that you have not seen for a long time. It’s a love story where Kabir cannot live without Preethi. There would be no Kabir if there is no Preethi. I watched the Telugu film ‘Arjun Reddy’, which was a cult film. Even though it was in a different language, I loved the movie.”

Her role as Preethi: “It’s a role where her silences are strong. There’s a simplicity and vulnerability about Preethi that I had to convey. I had to convey feelings without the help of dialogues many times. While Kabir responds and reacts, she’s silent. Preethi is the opposite of Kabir. As a personality, she’s very different from who I am. That was the biggest challenge. While I am an extrovert, Preethi keeps to herself. She’s very thoughtful and mindful. She weighs her every word and action. To bring that body language of a more subdued person was challenging as an actor.”

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Why Preethi falls in love with a toxic male like Kabir: “Sometimes opposites attract and contrasting personalities are drawn to each other. Kabir is very protective of Preethi. It’s also impossible to define a relationships. Sometimes, two souls connect magically. You have only seen the trailer, but when you watch the film you will see why they fell in love and the reasons why they fall apart. Regarding why Preethi fell in love with Kabir, he succumbs to alcohol only after they grow apart. Kabir becomes self-destructive after she’s out of his life. She hasn’t seen the violent side of his personality. It was only after our break-up that he goes on a journey of self-destruction.”

On Preethi’s strongest trait: “She’s someone who appears softer on the outside, but is very tough inside. Kabir comes across as strong and sorted on the outside, but is not really tough on the inside. Their contrasting natures was appealing to me as an actor.”

Whether ‘Kabir Singh’ is relevant in today’s times of serial dating and cheating: “Dating apps are just a way of meeting new people. But the concept of love hasn’t changed much. The institution and the sanctity behind love hasn’t changed much either. Love still exists and it’s an emotion that you can’t stop yourself from feeling. Love can happen to different people at different times, but even in this day and age love exists even if it’s complicated … No love story is perfect and ‘Kabir Singh’ will show how relatable such love stories can be.”

Working with Shahid Kapoor: “Every actor has [their] own process and Shahid has to be in a particular mindset before going into a scene. Personally, I am also like that. I need to be in a certain artistic space to perform well. I feel it’s important to feed off the energy from your co-star.”

Her journey in Bollywood since her debut in ‘Fugly’: “I am in the most exciting phase of my career right now. What I have learnt so far in my career in films is that you can’t take failure or success very seriously. It is a journey where you just have to learn and grow. As long as you are in the right, and your graph goes upwards, something right is happening. I am happy about the characters and roles that are coming my way. It’s a great way to show my versatility. I don’t want to restrict myself in any particular genre. It is also challenging to work with different directors who are looking for performance-oriented roles … I want to reach out to as many people as I can through my films. It’s a great phase as an actor for me.”

Don’t miss it!

Kabir Singh is out in the UAE on June 20.

Did you know?

Shahid Kapoor, who doesn’t drink or smoke in real life, began smoking 20 cigarettes a day for his title role in ‘Kabir Singh’.