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When A Celebrity Shifts Gears

For actress Kriti Sanon, 2023 has been a year of accomplishments. She won her first National Film Award for best actress for Mimi. She also launched two new ventures—skincare brand Hyphen and production company Blue Butterfly Films—and has been pouring her heart and mind into both. In an interview with Outlook Business, Sanon talks about her growth as an actor, deep commitment to her companies and future plans

Being an engineering student, what inspired you to enter Bollywood? How did you manage to succeed without having a famous mentor or surname?

I think there are a lot of people who do not know what they really want to do in life, and they just make choices based on their feeling at that point. I did not know what an engineer would do but I chose that subject because I felt it was something that I might develop liking towards. I started modelling when I was in the second year of B.Tech, and I started doing some TV commercials. That is when I realised that I enjoyed the shooting process, and I could act. I was always into dance since childhood but acting was something that I had never given a shot. So, I finished my B.Tech, moved to Mumbai and started giving auditions.

I told my parents that I would take GMAT entrance exam while I also try for films so that, if things do not work out, I have a good score to fall back on. They were very concerned, but at the same time, they gave me the freedom to follow my heart and to run after my dreams.
I have been blessed and fortunate that I got a great first film which not too many people end up getting.

How has winning the national award changed your approach when it comes to selecting movies? Besides going for author-backed roles, what are the other elements that you look for in a potential project?

I do not think winning the national award has changed the way I select films. But yes, there is a certain sense of validation which comes in after the national award and that has given me a lot of confidence to go for stronger roles without worrying about the box office. When you really feel it from within and give it your all, there is a certain magic that happens. This is what happened in Mimi.

I am an actor at the end of the day, and I want that all kinds of audience watch my films. I would love to do an action film. I would love to play a grey character. I would love to do a love story. And then, I would also do a Mimi in between to balance it out. I do not want to get bored of myself and I do not want people to get bored of me. It is always nice to keep changing and shifting the gear.

What inspired you to start your own venture, Hyphen, apart from also owning a production house?

When I talk about shifting gears, it is not only in films but also in life in general. You should find everything and anything that you are passionate about. With passion came Hyphen, because I have been obsessed with skincare for a very long time.

Around the pandemic, I delved deep into it. I watched tonnes of videos and tutorials, understanding how every ingredient affects the skin. I felt that there was a gap of really good quality products in the market, which are also affordable and gave multiple benefits. Most of the brands were shifting towards single ingredient products and, seeing that, I felt that I want a simple life and a simple skincare routine where I get multiple active ingredients in every product that provide multiple benefits, making the product a powerhouse to solve concerns. That is what Hyphen is all about.

We have Hyphen-ed ingredients from nature and science. It is my baby and something I am proud of. I am not only the co-founder but also the chief consumer officer. I am fully involved in every process of the brand, from the name to the packaging to the ingredients. I try each product on me for months, before it gets approved to go into the market.

With Blue Butterfly Films, I knew that at some point, I wanted to get into production, because I feel I am a creative person and I really enjoy every aspect of filmmaking. I was on a lookout for the right film to start with. That is where Kanika and I crossed paths. I think she is a fabulous writer. We found something that we both were passionate about—Do Patti. I love every part of making this film.

What kind of content will Blue Butterfly Films focus on—cinematic or content for OTT platforms and why? Will you also frontline your in-house productions?

I do not think I would limit Blue Butterfly Films to certain kinds of films, but I do know that they would have a heart and say something, because those are the kinds of films I like. Similarly, I would not want to limit it to OTT or theatres. I think every film has a different kind of audience. So, it really depends on the script.

I am still taking baby steps, absorbing it and trying to learn everything about producing. Hopefully in the coming future, Blue Butterfly is going to bring a lot of stories on the big screen.