W Power 2024

Kriti Sanon: Actor, entrepreneur, and now producer too

The actor-turned-entrepreneur feels she is in the best phase of her career. Sanon hopes to inspire people to dream big

Naini Thaker
Published: Mar 21, 2024 04:02:55 PM IST
Updated: Apr 16, 2024 04:15:35 PM IST

Kriti Sanon: Actor, entrepreneur, and now producer tooKriti Sanon, Actor, Co-founder, Hyphen, The Tribe, and Blue Butterfly Films Photography: Mexy Xaveir; Wardrobe: Joanna Andraos; Jewellery: Notandas Jewellers Footwear: Christian Louboutin; Styled By: Anisha Jain; Assisted By: Naviksha Jain, Muskan Jain

In the middle of a meeting on a regular weekday, Kriti Sanon kept getting calls from an unknown number from Delhi. When she answered, the voice on the other side said Anurag Thakur, minister of information and broadcasting, would like to speak to her. He told Sanon, “You have won the National Award (Best Actress) for Mimi.” The actor could not believe it. “When I told my parents, I will never forget the pride I saw in their eyes, I think it was the best feeling ever,” she says.

After Mimi (2021), Sanon has been looking for roles that challenge her as an artiste with films like Bhediya, Ganapath and Adipurush. In the last year, she has expanded her horizons—winning her first National Award and launching a skincare brand, Hyphen. This year, she’s already had a release—Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya—with Shahid Kapoor that has worked well at the box office. She has two more films in the pipeline: Crew, co-starring Tabu and Kareena Kapoor Khan and the thriller Do Patti—which she has co-produced for Netflix—co-starring Kajol.

Engineering to Acting

Sanon grew up in a very academic atmosphere—her mother is a professor and father a chartered accountant—which meant that education was given a lot of importance.

Kriti Sanon: Actor, entrepreneur, and now producer tooSince a young age, she recalls, “I have always wanted to give my 100 percent in whatever I do… I wanted to excel in it, if I didn’t, it bothered me.” She completed her BTech from Jaypee Institute of Information Technology. But while in her second year of college, she tried her hand at modelling. Soon, she started getting offers to work in television commercials. “That’s the first time I realised I enjoyed acting and being in front of the camera,” she says. At the time, she was a part of a commercial that filmmaker Shoojit Sircar was directing. “He asked me to work on my acting and try for films,” she recalls. That changed everything—“I decided I want to become an actor.”

While her parents were supportive, they asked her to finish her BTech and have a plan B in case her acting career didn’t take off. “They were worried,” she says. “There is nothing secure about this profession. Everything changes every Friday, even after you are a part of the industry.” With dreams in her eyes, Sanon moved to Mumbai, but the initial days were tough. “I was giving multiple auditions, and then just waiting to hear from them. It was a phase where I didn’t know whether I will make it or not—and that was unsettling,” she says.

After a lot of struggle, she made her debut with the Telegu film 1: Nenokkadine (2014) opposite Mahesh Babu. Soon, she was signed for the Hindi action film Heropanti (2014) with Tiger Shroff. Sanon won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut and the IIFA Award for Star Debut of the Year (Female) for Heropanti. Later, she bagged another box office blockbuster—Rohit Shetty’s action comedy Dilwale (2015), starring Varun Dhawan, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. But it was only after Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017) that she feels, “I started being recognised as an actor. Till then I think I just had an image of a ‘glam girl’.”

Mimi, though, was the game changer. She says, “I got that film when I was looking do an extremely layered character, to get scenes where I could really shine and show a lot more of my potential.” Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the film had to be released on OTT. “It was heart-breaking and I wasn’t sure if the film will get the love it deserved,” she says. Eventually, it was extremely well received by the audience and critics.

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Beyond acting

Apart from launching her production house Blue Butterfly Films, Sanon also launched a new skincare brand, Hyphen, along with mCaffeine’s founding team. “With the plethora of skincare products out there, there has been a lot of confusion about how these products are to be layered,” says Sanon. This got her thinking, “What if we brought together various ingredients in one product, to target multiple concerns?”  

In a year, Hyphen has 11 SKUs and it targets touching ₹100 crore in terms of sales by July. “Working closely with Kriti has been incredibly inspiring. Having her skin in the game reflects her commitment and passion for the brand which are truly remarkable,” says Vaishali Gupta, co-founder & chief growth officer, Hyphen.

Kriti Sanon: Actor, entrepreneur, and now producer too

The actor-turned-entrepreneur feels she is in the best phase of her career. “Right now, I’m feeling secure but at the same time, I’m also restless to push myself to the next level. I just want to keep growing and evolving,” she says. Sanon hopes to inspire people to dream big. “I would love it if some girl sitting in Patparganj would think: If she can do it, so can I.” 

(This story appears in the 22 March, 2024 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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