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My family means everything to me - Varun Dhawan | Exclusive Interview


With just three films behind him, actor Varun Dhawan took a plunge, the sort that very few actors his age would even think of. Shedding his lovable, boy next door image, Varun opted for a script that sees his character age from 20 to 40, with an emotional, revengeful journey as the backdrop. To top it all, his look and personality in the film, Badlapur, is a far cry from the usual, cheerful Varun that we are all used to seeing. But the actor took up the challenge quite confidently and after watching the promos, we must say, he has done a damn good job.

We caught up with the extremely talented and lovable twenty-seven-year old at Mehboob Studios on a busy weekday. The actor, dressed in casuals with a Badlapur badge displayed prominently on his T-shirt, was juggling multiple interviews in between several other commitments. But the moment he was informed that the legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was shooting in the adjacent studio, he ran to catch a glimpse of him and like a true fan boy, got pictures clicked with the legend as well. "It is okay to go all fanboyish in front of Sachin sir" he stated, before settling down for a fun chat. Excerpts from a delightful conversation with the actor:


You seem to have lost a lot of weight. Any particular reason?
(smiles) Yes, I have and its for my role in ABCD 2. We have got some crazy dance rehearsals going on for that. Also, my Badlapur producer Dino (Dinesh Vijan) is making me dance around a lot.

So, what was the transition from a boy next door to a revengeful, more mature character like for you?
See, if you want to take a revenge, you need to be like the next door lover boy first. It is only when you love someone truly, madly and deeply, that you can go all out to take revenge against someone who has caused harm to your love.

What was it about this script that attracted you first?
The very fact that Badlapur is the kind of a film that the audience is yet to see, and I can vouch for that. Sriram Raghavan is known to make unconventional films, and I am quite sure that will come across once you watch the film. It is much more than just a revenge drama. This film is very hard hitting.

Were there any apprehensions about working with Sriram Raghavan, since his last film, Agent Vinod, didn't do quite well?
Not really. I react more to stories and the kind of rapport that I build with the director. There are several directors who have made bad films, but then, went on to make good films as well. My father has also done bad films and still, delivered some really big hits. I have always felt Sriram is a great director and as a story, Badlapur really stood out for me.

At any point, did you feel you were taking a risk?
To do a film like Badlapur, which most people thought is a risk, I had to tell myself that yes, I have established a connect with my audience. Because only when you make a connect like that, can you convince the audience to accept the actor in different shades and character,
My father has also done bad films and still, delivered some really big hits. I have always felt Sriram is a great director and as a story, Badlapur really stood out for me

How difficult was it for you to get into the skin of Raghu, your character? 
It was a tough task, no doubt. I am nothing like Raghu. I am a very happy person. After portraying certain roles in the past, I had become a lot like them. But, Raghu is nowhere close to the person that I am, nor do I want to become like him (laughs). The anger and frustration in him is something else, and I don't really get angry so easily. This was the kind of an anger that you can see in one's eyes.

  How did you prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for the role?
A lot of mental and physical preparation went into the making of this character. Sriram had planned everything in advance. Major portions of the film were shot in Igatpuri, where we spent several days without electricity. I think that helped, because when you stay away from comfort and gel with the surroundings, you connect with the personality of your character and stay with it. During the filming, I would mostly stay alone and talk very less. So, that was a process that I had experienced for the first time as an actor, and it did affect me a lot. Also, we went through several workshops for the film, before we started shooting.

What was the reaction from your family when you first accepted the script?
Comedy is an amazing genre, where everything that you do is great fun. Even when you are doing a comedy film, you feel happy from within. But when you work in an emotional drama like Badlapur, you start behaving and talking in a different way, and the character takes over your personality. Maybe that's one reason why my father was a bit scared initially. Thankfully, it was Sriram sir's belief in me and my work, as well as my brother Rohit's encouragement, that helped me to confidently go ahead and work on this project wholeheartedly. Also, solely focusing on this film helped.

From a student to lover boy and now, you have also graduated to playing a father for the first time in a film.
(laughs) Well, I tried to pick up nuances from here and there. And although I am twenty-seven in real, there are several people who get married at a young age, so playing a father wasn't really tough. I also observed my brother, who is married, as well as a few other cousin brothers, who are now fathers. I noticed how they behaved, turned into kids in front of their wives and how they spoke to their kids among other things.
It was Sriram sir's belief in me and my work, as well as my brother Rohit's encouragement, that helped me to confidently go ahead and work on this project

Were you expecting the kind of response that Badlapur's first look and promos received on the social media?
The response was overwhelming. And honestly, the media's constant support  also played a key role. Badlapur is not a big film, as it is made only on a budget of 25 crore, including P&A (promotions). All of us in the film have taken a fee cut, but if Dino can support a film like this, then that is the least we can do (smiles). So, this is actually my least expensive film. Also, a lot of people felt that this is a niche film, so despite all those assumptions, the kind of coverage and buzz that this film has received was incredible.

Did you add your inputs in the promotional activities? 
All these Badlapur tees, sweatshirts, jackets and badges that you have seen me sporting during all the promotional activities was my idea (smiles).

When the first look of Badlapur released, a lot of people compared your look to that of Shahid Kapoor in Haider. How did you react to that?
That is a good thing, because I have seen Haider and I absolutely loved the film as well as Shahid's performance. The only thing important for me is to see Badlapur do well. I want to see how the audience reacts to my performance and the film.

How difficult was it for you to move from a film like Badlapur and then, start shooting for Any Body Can Dance 2?
Very difficult. I would actually end up taking my angry mood home. But fortunately, with ABCD 2, we started by filming two songs. So there, I had to just learn the choreography and dance. It was only later that we started working on the important scenes. In a way, ABCD 2 is like a complete rehab for me (smiles). Although its too early to talk about the film, I have tried several different dance forms, and contemporary is one of them.
Major portions of the film were shot in Igatpuri, where we spent several days without electricity. I think that helped

So, how excited are you about ABCD 2?
A lot! Again, its not like any other usual dance film. We are doing a dance film in 3D, and that requires everything to be done in a different way. The positions, requirements and the shooting style is different. That's something new for me.

Will we see you working with your brother, Rohit, anytime soon?
Of course, my next film is with Rohit. The film is titled Dhishoom and will also star John Abraham and Jacqueline Fernandez.

How do you think have you evolved as an actor?
I have learned how to disconnect from everything when I am filming. As in, disconnect from the technical process. It is important to just focus on your character. Like, while working on action oriented scenes or a gimmick, you need to be aware of the technicalities to create that atmosphere. But when it comes to an emotional film, you have to forget ki koi technicality exist bhi karti thi, So, one has to unlearn a lot of things according to the situation.

What is your biggest takeaway from Badlapur?
The fact that family means everything. If I ever imagine a life without my life, it would be very difficult.

-- By Priya Adivarekar --

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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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