Varun Dhawan has worked in almost every genre. Teen (Student Of The Year), action (Dishoom), comedy (Main Tera Hero), musical (ABCD 2), romance (Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya), and drama (Badlapur). While his contemporaries are still trying to gauge the parameters of his choices, we might have just decoded that. Thriller ho ya rom-coms, Varun just looks for one thing in the films he signs — entertainment. At a time when most of the young actors are trying to do things out of the box, Varun has managed to strike a balance. But at heart, he’s still the ’90s kid who’s grown up on masala films. He admits, “Woh masala actor ka keeda bachpan se hi hai.” In a candid chat, Varun talks about his next film Badrinath Ki Dulhania (BKD), his idea of success and failure, and why it’s difficult to be a superstar in times of social media.
Urban or desi love story — your pick and why?
More than anything, as an actor, doing a film like BKD, which is desi romance is challenging. One because it’s from the heartland and that’s not where I belong. I have grown up in a city like Mumbai. There are so many things I had to learn and discover while doing this film. On the surface, this looks like a very fun, masti wala film, but it’s difficult to get the UP humour right. It is very different from the sense of humour I have in real life. In BKD, you are laughing more at me and my situations, than on my jokes.
Your body language, diction in the film seems very studied. Are you a method actor?
I won’t say I’m totally a method actor. We did a lot of readings. Plus, we shot in UP and Jhansi. We also filmed in so many parts around Jhansi. So being in that setting and with locals around you, you are constantly seeing them talk, walk and behave in a certain manner. It comes naturally.
You are doing masala entertainers, which most of your contemporaries look down upon. Comment.
The one thing that I look for in any script is entertainment. I can’t do a film just for the sake of being educational. I don’t think people will spend money to go to a theatre to get bored, or listen to pravachan (sermons). People pay for entertainment. So, whether you make a thriller, horror or even a dance drama, it has to be entertaining.
Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania was a surprise hit. Does that work as an advantage or go against BKD?
I keep telling Alia that when we did Humpty, people were entertained because they didn’t expect anything. Expectations are sky-high from this film. People are expecting a lot, especially because of the work Alia has been doing. That’s a plus for us (smiles). Because of Alia’s work, people are thinking Badri too will have great content. I keep teasing Alia about that. As for me, the audiences are expecting entertainment. So I guess it’s a good mix of both now.
You are the only guy from the younger breed of heroes, who’s never had a flop film. Is there a sense of achievement?
I don’t think there’s any sense of achievement. Those hits are not only mine but there are a lot of people involved in it. I’m lucky that I did seven films with seven talented people who helped me achieve this. But at the same time, there’s definitely a responsibility which I cannot deny.
Do you fear failure?
(Pauses) I have not thought about it actually. You’ll have to ask me this after a film of mine doesn’t work. But success and failure are very personal things. Sometimes, you can be extremely successful yet feel you’ve failed. Everyone’s barometer of success is different. A film does what it does. Sometimes, you feel it should have done better. Sometimes you feel ki itni achhi nahi thi, itna kar gayi. It happens. At the end of the day, what you want, is for people to love the film. Like I have a six-year-old who’s sent me this clip where he has memorised all the lines of Junaid Ansari (Varun’s character in Dishoom). For me that’s way more special than whatever money the film made at the box office. That child is idolising one of my characters… that’s special. So money can’t be the benchmark.
Why don’t the gen-next actors have the superstar aura?
I think it has a lot to do with social media. Let me be honest with you. With social media, there is so much exposure that you are easily replaceable now. People believe they have the right to make and break stars. Also, I think today’s stars come across as too perfect. Because of social media, there are no imperfections coming out. The mistakes they are making are hidden because everything they want to put out is very thought out and then posted. Every picture is put out with a filter. You are not seeing anyone waking up disheveled in the morning. I remember getting so excited watching my favourite stars looking slept deprived when I was a kid. Or just hung over. Today, when do we see these pictures? Ganda picture daal bhi diya toh filter laga ke dalenge. So that you look good. The problem is that the relatability to an actor has become less. Also, cinema has changed. Today, films are stars, directors are stars and holiday dates are stars.
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