ELLE Digital Cover Star: Candid With Kriti Sanon

It is a life come full circle moment. Kriti Sanon is leaning forward and tearing a doughy slice of pizza when she catches the eye of her lunch partner on the sets of Crew (2024): Kareena Kapoor Khan. The same Kareena Kapoor Khan whose iconic lines from Jab We Met (2007) she had once fervently mouthed to herself while waiting in labyrinthine queues on the audition circuit. The same Kareena Kapoor Khan who is now pertly arching a brow as she watches the caramelised ribbons of cheese trailing behind a slice of margherita. The challenge lingers unspoken in the air. Unfazed, she declares, “I won’t feel guilty now about having one more because I’ll be equal to Kriti.”

On Kriti Sanon: light blue Gracee denim core jacket and light blue myla mom fit jeans, both by Pepe Jeans India.

The empty boxes start piling up, and co-star Tabu audibly groans at the thought of having to hoist Sanon on her shoulders for the next scene. All is, however, forgiven till dusk rolls around, and they are dunking whole wheat biscuits into a steaming cup of chai. Onscreen, the trio has discovered gold ingots strapped to the body of a dying passenger. Offscreen, they have chanced upon a more rarefied form of gold: the opportunity to storm the boys’ club with a first-of-its-kind comic caper anchored around three ambitious flight attendants.

If the premise sounds revolutionary, it should. In the testosterone-fuelled world of heist movies, women are often wielded as eye candy—or worse, shackled in the stakeout van as the designated hacker. But not on Rhea Kapoor’s watch. “When I first heard the script from her, I knew this wasn’t a manifesto on feminism. This wasn’t about male bashing. This was just about the good, clean fun of three women outsmarting the authorities to steal a cachet of gold for themselves,” she shares.

On Kriti Sanon: Toile iconographe cotton jacquard blouse, denim shirt with metallic V detail, denim blue lav chiaro and denim pants, all by Valentino.

Splintering the glass ceiling of showbiz is not for the faint-hearted, but the hustle doesn’t end with her day job. Kriti Sanon comes back from the shoot at night to dive headfirst into the WhatsApp group chats, blowing up with ideas for her skincare brand, Hyphen. Together with her team, she works through the ungodly hours of the night to develop her vision of versatile skincare solutions. Tonight, they are stymied by trying to reconcile the hefty price tag of active ingredients with her mission to keep the products affordable. “Can we cut costs on the packaging?” she muses out loud. “I’d rather people pay for the product and not the packaging.”

The past year of entrepreneurship has made Sanon confront these big-picture business decisions. Her neon-tipped manicures are as at ease tapping through customer DMs as they are scrolling through emails on supply chain logistics. Keeping all these plates spinning might sound overwhelming, but the 33-year-old has her eyes on the prize. “I won’t stop until there’s a neon Hyphen bottle on every skincare shelf,” she says crisply.

On Kriti Sanon: Bleached denim and bleached jacket, both by Huemn.

It is clear that Sanon has endless reserves of resilience from which to draw this confidence. A self-made star in an industry that hasn’t always been the most welcoming of outsiders, she now has a National Film Award to show for it. “There have been many important milestones in my career, like Bareilly ki Barfi (2017), Luka Chuppi (2019) and Panipat (2019). But the National Film Award is that final thappa, the highest level of validation you can get as an actor,” she smiles.

This phase of her career is what she describes as the metaphorical equivalent of a deep exhale. Sanon, the actor, is now at peace. “I’m happy with where I am. This is the kind of phase where you can get out of bed in the morning and go to work only when you love what you are doing. You can give yourself the permission to choose scripts because you love them and not because you feel obligated to constantly shoot something,” she confides.

On kriti Sanon: Med-dark washed blue janet denim jacket and med-dark washed blue jane denim shorts, both by Pepe Jeans India.

Sanon, the multi-hyphenate, however, is in what she calls a “happy, restless” state of mind. “You should always be a little restless so you don’t get laid back,” she intones. After a decade in the industry, her ascent to the top has finally been graced with the sweet kiss of kismet. “When you’re climbing a mountain, you have to pause sometimes. I’m enjoying the view right now.” Some days, the view is from the dias of the Vigyan Bhawan as a gleaming medallion is pressed into her hands by President Droupadi Murmu. On other days, it is the quiet beam of pride that she exchanges with Kapoor Khan as they polish off the crumbs from their ninth slice of pizza.

On Kriti Sanon: Med-wash blue cargo denim and optic white raha knit tee, both by Pepe Jeans India

ELLE India Editor: Ainee Nizami Ahmedi, Photographer: Soujit Das, Fashion Editor: Zoha Castelino, Asst. Art Director: Sanjana Suvarna, Words: Hasina Jeelani, Hair: Nikita Menon, Makeup: Adrian Jacobs, Bookings Coordinator: Anushka Patil, Assisted by: Komal Shetty, Sanaaya Gajaria(styling); Jasleen Narang (bookings); Sonali Jagtap Sawant (hair); Rehan Raza Khan (makeup), Production: Cut Loose Productions, Artist’s Reputation Management: Spice

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content