‘Shoojit dada is a fearless filmmaker’

Debarati Palit Singh
Wednesday, 11 April 2018

...says Varun Dhawan while promoting his film October in Mumbai. He also gets chatty about playing the character Dan, surrendering himself completely to the director and other things

Varun Dhawan doesn’t like to get confined to a certain genre. Unlike many of his contemporaries, the young actor has been experimenting with his characters and subjects. His latest film October sees him in a completely new avatar and Varun is going all out to promote Shoojit Sircar’s directorial, which releases on April 13. While promoting it in Mumbai, Varun mentions that the role has affected him personally and has put him in a dilemma. “When you question something, you start questioning a lot of other things,” he says. 

In a long chat, he talks about October, his desire to work in South Indian films and much more.   

What made you sign October?
The film is based on a true story and Shoojit dada had showed me a newspaper cutting. He had told me something freaky that had happened in his personal life, which he will disclose after the film releases. When I heard the subject, it hit me strongly. I thought the message should go out to the youth. If I just tweet or say, it won’t have the same impact. I had to become the character to say it. It’s a film, which will force you to introspect after you’ve watched it. It’s going to stay with you for a couple of days, and will haunt you. 

How much did you have to work on your character Dan because we haven’t seen you play such a character before?
Somewhere Dan was within me. Dada just caught it and pulled it out. The most difficult thing he told me was to be honest. More than honesty in acting, being honest in real life is tough. It’s very difficult not to lie. But I won’t say that Dan was my most challenging role because I can’t explain how challenging Judwaa 2 was. In other films, you get physical scars but this has left emotional scars. Dada literally broke me down, piece by piece. He showed me a part of the world, which I had fooled myself into believing didn’t exist. 

You completely surrendered yourself to the director’s vision. How difficult or easy was it?
It’s not easy all the time. But it was easy to surrender to Dada. He is a very hypnotic kind of personality. When he talks to you, he knows how to convince you and even Mr Amitabh Bachchan says the same thing about him. His idea of life is so beautiful that you follow his conviction.  

How was your experience of working with Shoojit Sircar?
He is a fearless filmmaker and it’s scary for people working with him. When I discussed with him about the box office or opening day collection, it didn’t bother him. He said, ‘I don’t make films for the audience or money. There is a feeling and I make it. What matters is that how many people can connect with the feeling’. He has not charged a fee for the film. I know filmmakers who keep their production and director fee aside while making a film but he hasn’t. 

While signing a film like October or Badlapur, do you keep your onscreen image in mind?
I did this film because of my fans. They wanted me to do something different and they conveyed this through their messages on social media, letters and interactions. They were happy after Badlapur and again they wanted me to experiment. I think somewhere, my fans were little hurt when I received the Best Comic Actor Award for Judwaa 2. They thought I could do more and I too agree with them.   

That said, Hindi cinema and the audience has changed. You definitely have a Baaghi 2 running but at the same time Hichki is also running. A solo Rani Mukerji film making Rs 45 crore is not a joke. Raid, in which Ajay Devgn has not raised his hands even once, has made more than Rs 100 crore. There is more acceptance now. Ten years back, I would not be allowed to sign a film like October. Although it is perceived as a multiplex film, it’s not. I have hardly spoken a few lines of English and play a middle-class boy in the film.  

Does the commercial aspect of a film bother you?
It does. First day collection or the film doing well does matter to me because it shows whether the audience has liked the film or not. Coming to October, I know a certain type of audience will come and watch the film. The film has been made in an economical manner but I am not anticipating that it will earn revenues equivalent to Judwaa 2 or Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya. This film is commercially viable because we have got our deal with Amazon, we have got satellite release, music rights recoveries. Money is not a pressure on the film.  

Compared to your contemporaries, you experiment a lot with your roles. Is it because you don’t want to get typecast?
True, I don’t want to get typecast. Also, my personality is such. But it’s not just me, today’s youth think alike. We don’t want to get confined to a particular idea. If we say, ‘We like this kind of film’, it doesn’t mean we can’t like any other. If I am travelling by Mercedes, it doesn’t mean I won’t travel by Uber or Ola. Our youngsters accept good content in films. If a big superstar does a film and it’s not up to the mark, they will not accept. It might open well but will not do well in the long run. Last year was the biggest learning experience, and that’s why in 2018 my films are October and Sui Dhaga. Content is the star in the film.    

What’s next?
I have always expressed my desire to do a South Indian film but I want to start off as a hero and not as a villain. I had this conversation with Ram Charan and he told me that I have to learn the language and only then people will accept me. I have watched a lot of South Indian films and have been a great admirer of the industry. I have always maintained that they are the ones who have been breaking boundaries with their films. The satellite rights of Allu Arjun’s film is almost the same as any big hero in Bollywood. There is no denying that Bollywood has not managed to capture their market but they have managed to capture ours as well.

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