Basking in the glowing reviews of October Varun Dhawan speaks to Subhash K Jha on what success means to him.
Hello, am I speaking to the superstar Varun Dhawan?
(Laughs) No, this is Dan (the character from October). …I still haven’t come out of my character. This is that kind of an experience which I can’t just leave behind.
Dan is not heroic in the filmy sense. What made you play such a character at this stage of your career?
This is what I was asked when I did Badlapur. I hope this question keeps coming up in my career.
You will continue to seek out roles that push the envelope?
Not just push the envelope, but phado (tear) the envelope. I am not interested in doing unconventional roles that don’t go all the way. I don’t want to take sides as far as doing mainstream and unconventional roles are concerned. Why should offbeat roles not be popular? When we made October we knew it won’t get the audience of a Judwaa 2. It was made within the required budget. And we were not disappointed with the results.
The collections have increased manifold?
Yes, a day after the release the audience began to increase considerably. That was very reassuring. People have connected with the film. What we see in October is what everyone goes through in life.
Would you be doing more such envelope phadu roles?
Yes, absolutely. But it has to be a character like the one in October who is completely honest even about his dishonesty. We all lie to others and to ourselves. But how often is the hero allowed to admit his weaknesses on screen? (Screenwriter) Juhi Chaturvedi has written the character as flawed and yes, quite annoying in the way he pushes his opinion about everything on others. Dan is quite overbearing. Yet he redeems himself finally. It proves there is a sensitive human being inside him. I loved my character’s journey.
I didn’t like the way the journey ended?
I know. A lot of people have told me it shouldn’t have ended the way it did. But this was the only way it could end. If we changed the inevitable we would be cheating.
You’ve had cent-percent success so far, even your awful Dilwale is considered a hit. Do you think October will not interrupt your success spell?
About Dilwale, even today you’ll be surprised at how many people tell me they love that film. When I decided to do October I put my entire soul into it. After Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya and Judwaa 2, I could’ve done another blockbuster kind of film. But I wanted to do a character who was not so high on self-confidence. Dan is a bit of upstart. He isn’t your average hero at all. When I heard about the role I insisted that Shoojit cast me, although he had a completely different cast in mind. Dan is just 21-22. Much younger than me.
How old are you?
I am 30. So I am actually not as inexperienced in things like illness and grieving as you might think. I’ve watched both my parents lose their parents and how it affected them. And I saw how my mother did the seva (tending) of her parents when they were ill. Somewhere in my subconscious I had stored all those memories and I used it in October.
It is interesting you say that, because I remember Shabana Azmi telling me how she would find herself observing herself and the other mourners at someone’s death.
Yes, as an actor even I am very observant. I like to look at people’s quirks mannerisms their expressions in given situations. Loss fascinates me immensely. I wonder what it would be like to lose someone really close.
Not very pleasant, I can assure you…
To me as an actor it is remarkable that we were able to make this film, and on the budget that such a project permitted. Shoojit and I were lucky to have producers like Sheel Kumar and Ronnie Lahiri who completely believed in what we were doing.
I believe you took a massive remuneration cut in October?
I was’t even thinking about money when I got the chance to do October. I just wanted to be part of this film.
What is you biggest takeaway from this film?
It has definitely taught me to be more considerate towards others. It is not just important to feel for someone. It is also important to express that feeling. This film has also taught me to be sensitive about what goes on around me. People die, people have accidents …Life goes on. Nobody cares beyond a point. That’s really sad. Most importantly, now after doing October I want to spend more time with my family.
And yet you’ve moved out of your family home into your own place?
That’s because I needed more space. And my own private space.
Did you buy your home as preparation for marriage?
Aisa kuch nahin hai. Of course it will happen in good time.