After making his Bollywood debut with Student Of The Year (2012), Sidharth Malhotra has experimented with several roles. As his effortless performance in his most recent release, Kapoor & Sons gets him praise from all quarters, we chat with him about his career so far, the role luck has played in his life, his equation with Alia Bhatt, and more.
As an actor, have you found the genre that you like the most?
Maybe because I don’t come from a film background, I have never felt the need to associate myself with one particular genre. If two of my diametrically different films — Ek Villain (2014) and Kapoor & Sons —have worked, then why should I restrict myself to one genre? My endeavour is to not get stuck in one thing. I feel I fit into all zones, and I have examples to back what I’m saying.
Have you figured out how the film industry functions?
That’s one thing I still struggle with. As soon as I feel I have figured that out, one new thing gets thrown at me, and then I get caught off-guard (smiles). Apart from acting, Bollywood actors are expected to do many other things, which is what I am still new to. However, I hope that changes. I hope that, one day, actors are only expected to act. Also, here [in B-Town], you get criticised for doing too little and even for doing too much. So, I haven’t figured out what the right balance is yet.
Despite you being an outsider, many feel that you have been very lucky…
Well, I became an actor by accident. In fact, my life is full of several interesting accidents. For instance, I got selected at a party for a modelling assignment, and then the modelling agency auditioned me for a film, and I got selected. I came to Mumbai, but that film never got made. Then I struggled and got to know what being an assistant director is really all about. And that experience led me to star in Student of the Year. In retrospect, I feel that luck has been a very important factor in my life. Of course, having Karan (Johar; filmmaker) not just as a mentor, but also as someone who guides, protects and advices me, has been great. Now, it’s my turn to justify my destiny, and create a position for myself with my films and acting.
You have always very calmly reacted to people’s interest in your personal life…
Yes, I have, because I have so much else to do. We, as actors, can’t waste our energy on things that aren’t productive. I find it best to ignore things that are written [about my personal life]. If anything negative is written, I take it as a challenge, and if anything positive is written, that’s always encouraging. Also, sometimes, people make things up, as they don’t know much about me because I’m a private person. In the long run, I hope the audience becomes more obsessed with my work and not with my personal life.
Alia recently told us that you are “one of the closest people” in her life right now.
I agree with her (laughs). We are very close. I am in full agreement with her statement.
Were you expecting such a great response to your latest release?
No, actually. We were expecting a very niche audience to like it. It isn’t typical, like a larger-than-life Bollywood love story or one with action sequences. It’s a small film. But we have been blown away by the response. It is being called my “best performance so far”, and that’s a great high. This is the best response a film can get — to get credibility and respect, and also have a great number of people watching it.
Were you worried about the movie’s reception at the box office?
Yes, in a selfish kind of way, I was craving for such a reaction. I wanted people to love the film; I wanted them to feel like I had done something new. And I am glad they have [responded that way].
Does it bother you when people only focus on your looks?
Yes, in a way. [It bothers me] when there is a full stop right after people say that I’m good-looking (laughs). It’s something I wish to change. I have taken it up as a challenge.
But there’s nothing wrong with being good-looking…
There’s nothing wrong with being good looking and being a great actor either (smiles). I always aim to do better. With every film, I have acquired more and more love and appreciation. But I want to do things differently; I am not here to follow anyone’s style of acting. I have to carve a niche for myself, and it will take time to do that. New actors don’t have to stick to one image. So, just because someone is good-looking, he or she doesn’t have to only do romantic films. I will change this impression very soon; my journey has just started.