Sidharth Malhotra is a busy man to catch. The actor, on the eve of the release of his second movie, Hasee Toh Phasee, is doing promotional tours around the country. But it is difficult to tell from his excited and eager appearance that he has been doing back-to-back interviews all day. There is a lot to talk about as well — from his modelling years to being an assistant director on My Name is Khan, his big launch in Bollywood and being nervous about his new movie, which sees him in the solo lead.
That Sidharth Malhotra does not come from a background in cinema, with a famous name attached is the first question he’s often asked. But the 29-year-old actor is not much concerned about that. “There are many new producers and directors today who want to make good and different kinds of films. It doesn’t matter if you have a relative in the industry or not,” he adds. What matters, he says, are the choices you make. “For me, the most difficult move was when I chose to quit modelling, and applied for a position of an assistant director,” he says.
Modelling happened to the Delhi-born Malhotra at a young age. Not only did he do advertisements that came his way, he won the Face of the Year at the popular Gladrags men’s pageant in 2009. But modelling was “just for fun and easy pocket money”. “I was 18 and was doing mostly fashion shows and photo shoots in Delhi. It helped me groom myself better, get into shape and figure out what works for me, in terms of clothes, fashion and health. But I was never too serious about it because it is a job that does not allow you much control. There is zero space for creativity,” he says, adding, “You don’t use anything other than your physical appearance to advantage. And I wanted to challenge my potential. So at the age of 21, I decided I wanted to pursue something that would excite me a little more. And I quit.”
It was around that time, the actor confesses he was bitten by the ‘filmy keeda’. “I really didn’t think of being an actor, but I had given an audition in Delhi when I was modelling for an assignment. I had no background of acting, but I gave it a shot,” he says. Though that film did not work, Sidharth Malhotra says it got him interested in the world of cinema. “Someone saw the audition and said I was good,” he adds. But Sidharth Malhotra did not get the right film for a while, and instead decided the best shot he had was to work on a film set. “I applied for the assistant director position for My Name is Khan, not knowing what to expect,” he says. He got through. Suddenly he found himself working alongside the biggest names in the business.
He was at the bottom of the film industry’s food chain. “I was the junior most of the juniors. Also there were dozens of us because it was a big movie. But it was a huge step for me,” he says. “It showed me how a film is made in shots and pieced together. It teaches you camera angles and direction methods, and the technical know-how that I found immensely useful when I had to face the camera for Student Of The Year (SOTY).”
Sidharth Malhotra debuted with Karan Johar’s ‘Student Of The Year’ in 2012 with actors Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan, also newcomers. “The biggest thing was that it was a Karan Johar film. It’s anybody’s dream debut,” he says of his first film whose hangover lasted for a while. While ‘Student Of The Year’ was a lot of glitz and glamour, ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ he believes, is closer to the ground. “I was a new actor with ‘Student Of The Year’, and in ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ I’m one-film old working with a new director. It makes an interesting combination and makes me more conscious,” he says.
“But the reason I picked the film is that it is a quirky story. The comedy is also more to my taste, it’s not just about the punchlines or the comic timing, but about the way the script and the characters are written,” he says.
Working with Parineeti Chopra, his co-star in the film, brought out his Punjabiness with the Malhotra-Chopra bonding. “She’s extremely spontaneous, something that comes through on screen as well. We have a lot in common. We’re both not from Mumbai and are Punjabis, who are always craving Punjabi food. And this chemistry and madness just spilled on the set,” he says.
Interestingly, his other co-stars will see releases in the coming months too, with Alia Bhatt’s Highway, releasing on February 21 and Varun Dhawan’s Main Tera Hero to be out on April 4. But Sidharth Malhotra confesses there is never a sense of competition. “Doing a first movie together makes you more like family. Your later movies might get jumbled up, but your first film will always be special. We watch each other’s movies well before anyone else, and we’re very excited for each other. It actually feels like we have graduated, but now are on our own,” he says.
Currently, Sidharth Malhotra is shooting for his next film by Mohit Suri, The Villian, which is a dark love story starring him and Shraddha Kapoor. Sidharth Malhotra says that he wants to pursue exciting roles. “I want to keep experimenting and working with different actors and directors. The thing I crave for the most is appreciation for my acting. I want them to say something about me other than, ‘the good-looking guy’. I’m open to anything that keeps you guessing and breaks the monotony,” he says.