A small film called ‘Fugly’ released in 2014. Prior to its release, the film made some news because of Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar who featured in a promotional music video for the film. The latter had also co-produced the film. The film featured a plethora of newcomers and biggest name in the cast of the film was Jimmy Sheirgill. The social thriller, which had comical undertones to it, released and sank without a trace. Out of all the newcomers, the one who received the best reviews was Kiara Advani. Unfortunately, when a film does poorly at the box-office, there is very little solace that good reviews can offer.
Being a distant relative of actors like Ashok Kumar, Saeed Jaffery and Juhi Chawla, Alia (her real name) had some exposure to the industry and the people working in it. From a very young age, she harboured dreams of becoming an actress. Armed with a degree in mass communication and a new name given to her by Salman Khan who believed she should opt for a new screen name as there was already an Alia (Bhatt) in the industry, Kiara was ready to face the camera but ‘Fugly’ did not turn out to be the kind of dream launch she would have hoped for. After the failure of the film, there was no announcement or no news of her gearing up for another project for the longest time. Perhaps, the failure of the film made her realise that it would be wiser to wait for a good film rather than taking up any project that comes her way. A year long wait finally resulted in a film with Neeraj Pandey in which she was paired opposite Sushant Singh Rajput.
A film on the life of legendary Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni was bound to generate excitement among film and cricket lovers alike. The film was in in news right from its inception stage and with time, the eagerness to watch the film grew amongst the audience. The film released in theatres on 30 September, 2016, a little over two years since ‘Fugly’ had released. Appearing in a film, in which you are paired opposite the lead actor but do not have a lot of screen time, two years after your first film had released, is it a wise move? Well, the gamble paid off very well for Kiara as the film did extremely well at the box-office and despite limited screen time, she got extremely positive feedback for her performance from the audience and the critics alike. Journalist and film critic Anna Vetticad wrote in her review, “Kiara Advani steals the show from right under Rajput’s nose when she enters the picture as Mahi’s girlfriend Sakshi who becomes his wife.” Though she was not unfamiliar to critics praising her performance, this was the first time she had tasted box-office success as well.
‘M. S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’ was followed by an Abbas Mustan film called ‘Machine’. Abbas-Mustan have been known as the masters of thriller since the 90s and most importantly, their last two films ‘Race 2’ and ‘Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon’ were successes. Unfortunately, ‘Machine’ turned out to be a huge flop. The only thing Kiara gained from the film was “Cheez Badi”, a recreated version of the popular hit number from ‘Mohra’ which turned out to be very popular. There was no big announcement immediately after the release of ‘Machine’ and the actress decided to keep a low-profile for some time.
In 2018, her first release was ‘Lust Stories’. Actually, it was not screened in theatres and released exclusively on the video-on-demand platform Netflix. The film was an anthology containing four stories dealing with the theme of lust. Kiara featured in Karan’s segment along with Vicky Kaushal and Neha Dhupia. Karan’s film talked about the way women are looked upon as asexual beings in the largely orthodox Indian society and how, for them, sex is equated with something that they have to do to bear children. Megha, the character played by Kiara Advani, represented a large number of women in our country who suffer from repression and do not get an opportunity to express themselves sexually or otherwise. Johar delivered a strong message while layering his story with dollops of humour. Watch out for the scene where the title track of ‘Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham’, another of Johar’s films, plays in the background while Megha is having a moment. Karan himself admitted in an interview that he was not sure of an actress willing to do something like this but to his surprise, Kiara said a ‘yes’ to the role in the very first narration itself. Kiara’s conviction paid off and she received widespread acclaim for depicting Megha and what she felt with so much grace and dignity. Shortly after the release of ‘Lust Stories’, arrived ‘Bharat Ane Nenu’, her big Telugu debut opposite Mahesh Babu. The film turned out to be the third highest grosser in the history of Telugu cinema. Kiara, as Bharat’s (Mahesh Babu) love interest, did not have much to do in the film but she left a mark nonetheless. Also, she featured in some lavishly shot songs which were lapped up by the masses. A good start in Telugu industry was made. She did not have any other release in 2018 but did a music video with Shahid Kapoor which became massively popular. A.R Rahman’s ‘Urvasi’ from ‘Kadhalan’/’Humse Hai Muqabla’was given a new spin by Yo Yo Honey Singh which was lapped up instantly by the listeners and the video was shot very well too. The chemistry between Shahid and Kiara was wonderful and one will get to see more of it in ‘Kabir Singh’.
Looking at her slate of films in 2019, one feels she is willing to continue doing the balancing act between Hindi and Telugu cinema. She will open the 2019 with her Telugu biggie ‘Vinaya Vidheya Rama’ in which she is paired opposite Telugu superstar Ram Charan. In ’Kabir Singh’ she will be seen reprising the role of Preethi which was originally played by Shalini Pandey in ‘Arjun Reddy’, in ‘Good News’ one will see her opposite Diljit Dosanjh. ‘Good News’ is her first full-fledged role in A Dharma Productions. Though she had worked with Karan Johar in ‘Lust Stories’, it was not produced by his company. She will also be seen in a big song with Varun Dhawan in ‘Kalank’, which was been produced by Karan’s company. 2018 was quite a well-rounded year for her what with critical acclaim (‘Lust Stories’), massive box-office success (‘Bharat Ane Nenu’) and a big song (‘Urvashi’) coming her way. With the kind of line-up she has in 2019, one believes it will be an even bigger year for her.