Ever since he made his Bollywood debut with the 2012 film Student Of The Year (SOTY), Varun Dhawan has had a string of successful movies. The 29-year-old, however, says he doesn’t want to be part of the “comparison game”. As he basks in the success of his latest release, Dishoom, the actor talks about marriage, and why he likes to do things differently.
Your new film is a hit. It is also being praised by the critics. You must be happy.
Of course, I feel satisfied. The most satisfying thing is that the audience has given it a thumbs up. What’s difficult about this genre — action comedies — is that critics look down on it. Now, though, after a long time, the critics, who are tough on everyone, have applauded this film, and my performance. That has taken me by surprise. In fact, a priest at ISKCON temple in Juhu told me that he watched the movie and laughed after a long time. Such reactions make me feel good.
Many feel that you are bridging the gap between ‘massy’ and ‘classy’ films.
There was a time when the same was said about a lot of big actors, including Salman bhai (Khan). People thought he was a massy actor. Then, post Wanted (2009), the multiplexes woke up to his appeal. So, every actor goes through this [process]. I don’t know whether I am a massy actor or a classy actor. I just want to be an actor, and if I act well, I will be able to connect with everyone.
There is tough competition among younger actors today. Do you feel the pressure to excel?
After finishing SOTY, I decided that I will not join any rat race, or the comparison game. That was a conscious decision I took ever since I did Main Tera Hero (2014). I believe each film has a life of its own. So, I am doing my own thing. If everyone’s going right, I will go left. I like doing things differently.
You are being called Bollywood’s new-age Govinda. How do you feel about that?
Honestly, I don’t feel anything about it. There’s a whole generation of kids who have just started getting to know me. Dishoom is my seventh film. Chi Chi bhaiya (Govinda) has done about 200 films. I admire him and look up to him. He is a legend, and there can only be one Govinda. I feel people compare me to him because dad (filmmaker David Dhawan) has worked with him so many times. That’s how people think; they have a tendency to compare. It makes for interesting stories, but the fact is that it doesn’t mean anything. I am being myself. I am the next Varun Dhawan.
When are you moving into your new bachelor pad?
Very soon. But the shift will still take a couple of months.
Rumours claim that your bachelor pad might not remain a bachelor pad
for very long…
Why? It is only these people who want me to get married. They are jealous. Do I look like I am going to get married soon?
So, no marriage plans?
Everyone thinks about it (marriage) at a certain age. Even I want to be settled. A person like me needs to be settled, because if I don’t, I will go crazy. I will just be running from one place to another. I bring my work home, so I probably need someone who tells me not to bring my work home.
Your personal life isn’t in the news these days. How do you manage to keep things under wraps?
I played a master stroke and outsmarted the media. If they try to catch me at some place, I know how to escape. They have to come up with new tricks. Now, when they catch me, they say, “We saw you there.” But they never have any proof. So, I can always say, “I wasn’t there.”
Do you ask your father for tips?
So far, all my films have released after facing some or the other obstacle. Dishoom, too, released amidst heavy rains, floods in various parts of the country, and a strike in Bangalore. But it is still doing well; people are loving it. So, whenever I complain about these obstacles, my dad says, “If a film has to do well, it will.” He always says Biwi No. 1 (1999) released during the cricket world cup, and still did well. So, he doesn’t let me complain. I know I can’t make any excuses.
Dishoom has been banned in Pakistan...
I am genuinely upset about that, and I don’t want to hide it. It’s a wrong decision. I come from a generation that’s not interested in showing India against Pakistan. And I agree with the thought. I want peace and friendship. There is nothing against Pakistan in the film. I know that people in Pakistan are watching the pirated version of the film. that the people want to see in Pakistan is completely different from what the censor board wants. People want to watch the movie, and are not finding it offensive.
You promoted your film a lot...
It was a lot of fun. We did different things, including a helicopter stunt. We also appeared on regional shows such as a Marathi programme and even a hit comedy TV show, which is watched by a major population in Gujarat. It was a little tiring, as I was doing a lot of things, but I was kicked. I would only do it (promote a film a lot) if I believe in it. I might promote a movie due to the producer, etc., but I won’t promote it a lot if I am not happy with it.
Are you excited about the sequel to Judwaa (1997), which will be helmed by your father?
I am excited about playing a double role. It is challenging and exciting to play two characters. How you do it, what’s the research, what will be the hairstyles, and how will the two characters talk — a lot of work is going to go into this film. But, it will be different from whatever I have done till now.
Aren’t you sceptical about being compared to Salman Khan, who played the lead in the original film?
I am used to comparisons now.
Is it a big deal for you, to be compared to Salman?
It doesn’t matter. I am just seven films old. So, how can I be compared to a superstar? Whoever is comparing us is wrong. They should be like, “Yeh bachcha hai aur Salman superstar hai (He is a kid and Salman is a superstar).” How can you compare? Actually, it was Salman bhai who laughed, and told me, “You better act properly because they will compare you to me.”