Varun Dhawan gets chatty with Subhash K Jha about his gratifying growth as an actor from Student Of The Year to Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania.
How different was the experience of working with Alia Bhatt in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania as compared with the experience of working with her in your first film Student Of The Year?
Oh, very different! I actually had to change my acting style completely and unlearn a lot of things that I had applied to my characters earlier on. Both of us influenced each other’s performances to a large extent. In Humpty…, she plays a character who’s a lot like me.
How is her character like you?
I am charged up and aggressive and a bundle of energy. I play a character who is sensitive and restrained like her. So, in that sense, we swapped characters. And that could only happen because we both knew one another so well.
You seem to share a great comfort level with one another?
I am very comfortable with Alia. And I know she’s comfortable with me. We understand each other so well that we forget when the camera is rolling. Alia has a terrific memory and she’s brilliant with her lines whereas I like to improvise a lot. By the time we reached the end of shooting for Humptyâ€¦, Alia was improvising like me.
That sounds like a great swapâ€¦
I think we had a lot fun shooting this film. We want people to see a bit of themselves in our characters.
‘Saturday Saturday‘ the hit song from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania is actually a re-mix of a Punjabi hit song?
Yes, it is. We aren’t shooting it as a new song. There is a very logical reason for this. My character Humpty and Alia’s character Kavya are from Delhi and Ambala. ‘Saturday Saturday‘ was a big hit in North India when it was released two years. Humpty wants to pataao Kavya with a song that he knows.
That’s quite a tribute to realism?
I guess that’s the advantage of working with a new director. There’s always room for new ideas and innovations. A normal average guy from Delhi would woo a girl with a popular song, right? Kids in Delhi dance to this song. So do Humpty and Kavya. In the film, we weren’t looking at creating chartbusters. If they’ve happened, we are happy. We were looking for music that fitted in. There is a track where I’ve sung a few lines. Another track has the entire family singing. The songs are very situational.
While you were promoting this sunny weekend-fun film, you were shooting Sriram Raghavan’s intense film. Did that give you a sense of your versatility?
It hasn’t been easy shooting Humptyâ€¦. The rains have repeatedly played a part in this film. When we were shooting the climax, it rained, when we were doing a schedule in Chandigarh, it rained. And now it’s raining when we’re marketing the film. So rain is an ongoing theme.
Was it tougher shooting for Humpty Sharmaâ€¦than Main Tera Hero?
To be very honest, I worked harder on Humptyâ€¦ I did many workshops. I never did workshops in Main Tera Hero. There was a lot more improvisation in my dad’s film. Shashank Khaitan, the director of Humpty, is a different school. Shashank controlled my expressions. I normally do a half-smile on camera. He showed me how to smile fully. I also delivered my lines slower, much slower.
So Shashank is a different school?
Because he comes from a theatre background and has been a student of Naseer Sir (Naseeruddin Shah), he has an authentic approach to acting. It was an enriching experience. Shashank would give me four takes. The first two takes would be the way Shashank wanted me to do a scene. Invariably, his interpretation was correct. It took me a while to understand his method of working. But I learnt a lot from him.
You had three very different directors in your first 3 films?
Yes, Karan Johar, my father (David Dhawan) and now Shashank. They are all entertainers. But different kinds of entertainers. I want everyone to go back home feeling happy after watching all my films.
Even Sriram’s film?
Yes, it could make the audience of a particular kind of cinema, smile. Sriram’s film has taken its toll on me. And it showed during my promotions of Humpty Sharma… A lot of people wanted to know why I was looking depressed. Even Humpty Sharmaâ€¦is not a comedy. It’s a love story. But there’s no melodrama. Even when my character is sad he wipes his tears and moves on. That’s how life is.
And now you’ll play a struggling dancer in Remo D’souza’s ABCD 2?
That will actually be very easy. Because, when I have to dance in front of Remo Sir, I am actually struggling. I am doing a lot of rehearsals to look like a struggling dancer.
Are you looking for further challenges as an actor?
I definitely am. Only when I enjoy doing a role, would the audience enjoy it. What excited me about ABCD 2 was the 3D format. My first 3D film in the first two years of my career. And we’ll be shooting in Las Vegas.
Are you going to gamble in Vegas?
The last time when I went there I was under-age, so I couldn’t do anything. This time I intend to enjoy Vegas.
There was news of a home production directed by your brother Rohit and produced by your dad?
Hopefully, we’ll do a film together in the future. But nothing right now.
You’ve been seen singing with Alia Bhatt at almost every marketing event for Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. Is this training for a music album that the two of you might cut in the future?
No such plan. But I had to make the promotions this time completely different from what I had done for Main Tera Hero. I didn’t want to repeat myself. I wanted Alia and me to find new ways of entertaining people at promotional events. So the USP that we thought up this time was that we sing. Yeah, Alia and I have tuned singers to promote Humptyâ€¦
What’s with this hidden singing talent that your generation of actors has discovered? Alia and Shraddha Kapoor sang in Highway and Ek Villain. Now, you too are singing?
How well, only time will tell. But, to be fair, haven’t many of our stars from Bachchan Saab, to Salman Bhai to Shahrukh and Govinda sung for their films? Shraddha and Alia are doing some great singing. I am not a trained singer or anything. But if I am encouraged to hum or rap a few lines, I don’t mind singing.
What prompted you to take to the stage in this case?
It was Alia who persuaded me to sing on stage. We started singing at promotional events in North India in Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Delhi. Luckily, for us, the song ‘Saturday Saturday‘ is already doing very well. For the first time in my life, I performed a rap section with Baadshah on stage in Chandigarh’s Sector 17 in front of 10,000 people!
How was the experience?
Beyond description. I can’t put the experience in words. You see, Punjabi rap has become really big with Yo Yo Honey Singh, Gippy Grewal and Baadshah. It’s trending. The rapper’s role suits my character Humpty, that’s why I agreed.