“My personal life is not relevant at all, only what I do on screen is,” is how new actor Siddharth Malhotra chooses to start the conversation, in Chandigarh on Saturday. An outsider in the industry with no backing, he talks about the initial pressure of making his debut with an all-starkid cast. “It is a bit intimidating at first, but it was Varun (Dhawan) and Alia’s (Bhatt) first film as well. On set, everyone is equal, as I learnt,” says he.
Appearing next in debutant director Vinil Mathew’s film Hasee Toh Phasee with Parineeti Chopra, Siddharth believes there is definitely more pressure on him now because he is one-film old, as opposed to the director, "I feel almost responsible for the film, as if I am carrying it on my shoulders, not that I feel it is my ‘make or break’ film, as most second films are made out to be."
His journey started when he came to Mumbai, all of 22 years, to make his career in acting in an Anubhav Sinha film. But, when that did not work out, he decided to get into assistant direction with My Name is Khan. "This was my idea of training and learning how to behave or not to behave in Bollywood."
On being asked if he has any plans of going back behind the camera anytime soon, he says there is no hurry of that happening anytime in the near future. "I barely just managed to get in front of the camera," he laughingly replies.
With this being the time of newcomers in the industry, Siddharth remains unfazed about his position for now and says, “We’re all a film or two old right now and we won’t realise our standing till our third or fourth film. Everyone so far has proven to be talented, so I really can’t single out any one actor or actress just yet.”
With almost every film now running into trouble, with the censor board’s growing strictness, he’s of the view that while Indian films are making progress and growing less inane, their progress is halted because of the multiple hoops they are made to jump through to get a certified rating. “A better way needs to be found that doesn’t curb the director’s artistic vision,” he says.
Speaking about the big taboo that smoking has become, he believes that the ‘No Smoking’ line that runs at the bottom of every screen now is highly distracting to what a director is trying to convey. He says, “Imagine a close-up of a beautiful actress who is smoking in a scene that demands it and suddenly the words ‘No Smoking’ pop up. Of course that is distracting to the filmmaker’s vision. Woody Allen rightfully stopped the release of his film, Blue Jasmine, in India recently and now Anurag Kashyap is also fighting against it.”
While he isn’t trying to encourage smoking, he does believe the government’s efforts are better spent in finding a more appropriate way to get the message out.
His advice for newcomers who have no film background and are entering the industry is simple: “Do what I did — keep working, don’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring; keep trying one way or another to break in.”