Dishoom stars John Abraham and Varun Dhawan who were at HT City to meet the winners of Stars In The City contest, talked about their upcoming film Dishoom and shared some behind the scenes moments. Excerpts from the conversation with National Editor, Sonal Kalra.
Sonal: Hello, welcome to HT City and Fever 104 Stars in the City. You both have been here for Stars in the City but it’s the first time that both the ambassador of Fever Voice of Change are here. So a big big round of applause.
Varun: How many of you have been paid? Kitne paise liye aap logon ne? But honestly, Fever Voice of change has changed my life. And when for the first time I came to Delhi, to this office and someone told me about this initiative they told me that John abraham ne kiya hai ye. I remember his voice clip in the RJ studio. It’s such a lovely initiative. Just to see how it’s grown. It’s a voice of change. Just to see from where it started and what it has become now, it’s an evolution. It’s amazing. We should keep this family growing.
Sonal: Where’s the director of the film and the girl (Jacqueline Fernandez) who you’ve conveniently left? Boys are doing all the promotions?
Varun: Humne kaha yaha koi mat aao, ye bas humara ilaaka hai toh hum hi rahenge idhar. Fever is hope for me and John. On record I can say that John does not enjoy promotions but one thing we told him we’re doing he said haan ye toh karna hai, we have to come and that is to come to Fever Office.
John: Honestly, I feel I’m coming home. My friends are here, my family is here. You guys are rockstars as I’ve always said it. And it’s so special that I’m sitting with someone who’s such an important part of this cause.
Sonal: This film is a cop adventure. People would still remember Main Khiladi Tu Anaari. That’s the first impression one gets. That must have been somewhere in the back of mind when the film was narrated to you. How different is this? What was your first thought when you were asked for a cop adventure film.
Varun: It was very exciting because I have parallelly played only roles of a college student or like the one in Badlapur. I love Police Officers. I love the Army. I really look up to them. So when I got this opportunity to be on this case, I almost take it like a case. You know India’s top batsman like- Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma got kidnapped and you’ve to bring him back. It made very exciting. The fact that made it more exciting for me was that I play a middle eastern cop. Added a lot of Arabic. The way cops function there is very different from here. There is a lot of research into that. I have a different look for the film. So the primary case in itself is very interesting. There is lots more than it meets the eye in that sense. Also the whole match fixing angle and the bookies and when the cricket angle is concerned, that’s very interesting. The deeper you dig, the more can of work is open up and real life is real life. You can try your best to put into the script.
Sonal: And John, what’s your response when you heard the script? We’ve also heard you also got to do comedy along with action and adventure in this film.
John: Yea, I’ve done action before like I did it for Rocky Handsome and I have done action in Force. I did comedy in Jai Prasad, Desi Boys, Housefull, Dostana, Welcome Back but this is the first time I’m doing an action comedy film and it’s a great story. In the film, I’ve just been dumped by my girlfriend and it’s been a very bad world and I need a partner who can make everything easy for me, who can drive my car. When I reach the destination (for the job I am required to do) I meet Mr Junaid Ansari and he makes life a little interesting for me.
Varun: I would say a dialogue from the film: Mai paida hua bhindi bazaar ke agal mein par jawani aayi burj khalifa k bagal mein.. Kamata hoon Dirham mein lekin kharachta hoon rupai mein ... khata hoon inki lekin sunta hoon sirf Modi ji ki
Sonal: John we heard there was an injury on the sets? How that happened?
Varun: John was injured in force 2. I got injured as in I fainted one day. There was a stunt with moving cars and I had to jump over in 42 degrees of heat and Rohit, my brother made me do a lot of retakes. It took around 18 or 19 takes. Once my finger got stuck in the bonnet and because of heat, may be I passed out.
Sonal: Was it easier or tougher to have family member as the director of the film? Does it feel like family on the set?
Varun: It feels like family. John is there, Jacqueline is there, my brother is there. When you’re working with any family member, I think everyone will agree that it’s never easy. The proportion has run really high. And everything is on stake. We have it in our own blood and it was that much protective and that’s the way I’m about Dishoom. I really do believe in the film. That’s why I think John and me, we both believe in the film and we went all out to do what we should be doing. This is a very special film and I’ll always maintain this - Dishoom has a mind and a heart when you watch. We’re not taking the audience for granted. It’s redesigning commercial cinema/masala cinema which we love and which is our own but with lot more logic with a lot more care. Hopefully i’m thinking the audience will like it.
Sonal: How was Sajid as a producer? Is there complete liberty to the actor and director? Are there creative inputs?
John: I think he’s a fantastic producer. He has mounted the film really well. Dishoom looks like a massive film and it was a massive film. And it’s the producer who can push the film. It’s releasing in 3000+ theatres. He was always there to make sure it’s a massive film.
Sonal: There’s a lot of interest in Akshay Khanna’s return to the big screen with the film after four years. Why is he not promoting and what is special about his character?
Varun: He does not like promoting.
John: First promotion, Akshay, Varun and me standing together and Varun was like, hey hey hey everybody and I was there like, Hi everybody.. Hey (in less excited tone). And I looked at Akshay and asked, are you enjoying? He said “NO, NOT AT ALL”. So his level of excitement are not happening are such at promotions.
Varun: I’m a totally people’s person and i think it’s really important to build a connect with the audience. Specially the younger audience because today social media is developing at a rapid pace. I don’t think the relationship is anymore of an actor and the audience. I hope I’m like a friend and they are also my friends because when they criticize you also they do not note so and so, they will just point blank you what it is. So the way how it used to function has changed a lot today. And this is my take on it. I just love engaging with the audience. I also get feedback of what they are liking and what they are not liking. They are honest people.
Sonal: Varun, John has always been saying that box office numbers don’t matter and it also shows. What do you have to say at this stage of your career about it?
Varun: I won’t say any numbers 100 or 200 crores or whatever but I would just say that Box Office does matter because if there’s no box office, we can’t make the film to be very honest. Specially the big budget ones. In a way Box Office collections just tell that the audience enjoyed your film or they did not, for that matter. Art doesn’t need to be judged with money. There are certain subjects that have certain amount if audience which is fine. That’s the limit and budget. I’m sure the producer makes a film that is structured. Dishoom is film which needs a big audience. It’s made economically because of the satellites sale and music sale. It’s for universal audience.
Sonal: Another important reason why the film has been in new is the shield that you got against piracy. What exactly have you guys managed to do? There were earlier record of films getting leaked.
Varun: We talked to Sajid sir about it. We were equally worried. And it’s a systematic breakdown as John puts it. The system has broken down. That’s why these leaks are happening today. Technology is progressing so fast, it’s so easy to leak something. You might hear something what RJ’s have recorded here on some website which has nothing to do with HT or Fever. We’ve given an encrypted disk to Censor. It’s locked and you can’t see the whole film at one time. There are codes and stuff like that. So it is more difficult to get leaked. But honestly, when the overseas print goes, you can’t stop someone from their mobile if they are recording.
John: I just think the system failed and we are trying to correct it. We are hoping the film should not be leaked. Imagine we are talking about the film not being leaked. Leave beside the audience liking.
Sonal: The audience have also evolved to an extent that around the world when Udta Punjab got leaked, there was a tremendous support that the audience gave by taking pledge that won’t see the film’s pirated version.
Varun: Great Grand Masti got leaked 3-4 days before it’s release and I think it’s unfair we put it on audience ki leak ho gya hai, please mat dekho. We are making the film. It lies on us, producers’ guild how we protect it.
Fan (Raghav): How was working with Varun and Rohit? They are brothers. Were you sidelined?
John: Varun and I knew each other since I started Desi Boys. So we got along from day 1, minute 1. There was no extra effort. It was really easy. I wish I was sidelined and had to say something but honestly, I was a part of the family and it was great. Gone are the days when we used to publicise the film ke ye actor and wo actor ke beech kuch problem hai. We really had a fantastic time.
Fan: Varun, how was working with Rohit? He was a lenient director or strict director?
Varun: Definitely a strict director. Throughout the shoot he told me, ‘Be Junaid Ansari. Be the character’. Me and Rohit never interacted post shoots. We only interacted on the sets. It’s not easy to make a film like Dishoom. We are shooting in Morocco and Abu Dabi.The kind of actions we tried to pull off, it becomes tougher for the technicians.
Sonal: Aapne Tahir Shah ko naraaz kara hi hai, will you hum one line for us too?
Varun: Sorry. Sorry Angel. Sorry.
Fan: Where do you see in 5 years in this industry?
Varun: I don’t have a specific trajectory that I want my career to follow. I love to do different kinds of roles because if I keep doing the same roles it will bore me as well as the audience. I am doing action genre for the first time. I did thriller in Badlapur but it was dark. This is a different thriller. I’d love to do horror in future and sci-fi. The youth really want to see new stuff when the animation is concerned. I want to take it slow and do what people will enjoy.
Sonal: Under Save a Life initiative, there is a 2 year old girl who has been operated in AIIMS is here with her mother to thank you.
Varun: The credit goes to Harshad, Fever Team and Hindustan Times. You have done a great jo. Very few people do this. It’s not for any propaganda or promotion. Many have power but only some use their power like this, for a cause.