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In a departure from their teenybopper hits in the past, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla describe their new film as a step-up in terms of maturity — and fans are lining up to watch it all the same. The Hows of Us is a romantic drama by award-winning director Cathy Garcia-Molina, who is back directing the KathNiel duo after She’s Dating the Gangster in 2014.

The movie earned 35.9 million pesos (Dh2.45 million) on its first day of screening in the Philippines and it has already passed the 300 million pesos mark in record time for a KathNiel movie.

The Hows Of Us tells the story of a couple, Bernardo’s George and Padilla’s Primo, schoolmates who fall in love with each other. Primo is a musician waiting for a big break for his band, while George is preparing for medical school.

“Primo is a very passionate person, musically inclined, very much in love with music, very much in love with George, but very much confused on how to handle things, where he will start,” shared Padilla in an email interview with Gulf News tabloid!.

“He just needs to find what his good at and stick with that,” he added.

Daniel Padilla, Kathryn Bernardo and Darren Espanto in ‘The Hows of Us’.

Things start to unravel when Primo gets frustrated with the way his musical career is going and starts to act differently. His transformation proves to be a big test for George’s faithfulness to their relationship.

“She’s an achiever,” said Bernardo of her character. “She met Primo and sacrificed her dreams for Primo because she loves him so much. She came to a point of choosing between her love for Primo or her dreams.”

The 22-year-old Bernardo admits that she had difficulties doing the film as it was a significant departure from the roles she portrayed before.

“It’s really a challenge for us because we already did romantic comedy in movies and teleseries; people are asking so what’s next? Consciously, we want to do mature roles, but still age-appropriate for us. We also want that not only audience of our age or teenagers will watch our movie, but that they can also bring their parents and relatives,” she said.

While the couple, who have been a loveteam since 2012, have done several projects that tackle relationship issues, 23-year old Padilla says he is more satisfied with the new film’s approach on the subject.

“There’s a maturity in the character. We’ve done so many movies about relationships — this one has a different tone,” says Padilla. “We want to do something that has depth and content, a credible project. We want something worth watching.”

The duo, who recently admitted to being a real-life couple for five years now, say they are not forcing their maturity in their projects.

“Hindi naman siya pinipilit na maging [We are not forcing it to be] mature. Our maturity is more in terms of decision making, how we handle the problems, the maturity of the relationship. It just suits our age and what we are going through also in our personal lives,” they said.

The duo said the movie is about dealing with real-life problems and admit that they have faced many of the same relationship hurdles. In fact, some of the scenes in the movie have also happened to them as a couple.

“How did we save it [the relationship]? Kasi gusto namin [Because we wanted to]. It’s always a choice for both of us if we will continue this, will we fight for our relationship and we chose to stay and I think I made the right choice,” said Bernardo. “For me, in a relationship even if you want it to be perfect, it will never happen. The important thing is that you’ve learnt something from it, you grow together and move on and that was what we chose.”

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The Hows of Us releases in the UAE on September 6.