Actor Varun Sharma, who rose to fame with his debut film Fukrey, has made a place in the industry as an actor with comic chops. This Friday, he returns to the screen with Arjun Patiala.
Excerpts from a conversation:
After Fukrey, there has been no looking back for you. How has the journey been so far?
As a kid, I always dreamt of becoming an actor and coming on the screen. Even now I feel like a kid when I am on a set. Fukrey changed a lot of things. The journey since its release has been magical and very beautiful. With the film, the biggest change that happened in my life is that I shifted from auditions to narrations. I think that is the biggest change for any actor to have. Till date, all of it (the journey) feels surreal.
However, it seems filmmakers are looking at you just as an actor who excels at comedy. How does it feel?
It feels good. The biggest achievement for an actor is to get accepted by the audience. The comedy genre has given me that in a certain capacity. Yes, filmmakers offer me scripts that are majorly comedy. The ratio will be 70-30 per cent, out of which 30 per cent of the scripts are different. But I am okay with it. As an actor, I want to do different roles and there is a constant effort to do that. In the coming years, you will see it taking place.
Don’t you want to move out of comedy and do something unexpected?
There are films in the loop in which I am making people laugh but there is a different angle to it. I am trying different genres but also keeping comedy in mind. There is a constant effort as I said before but having said that, I won’t stop doing comedy just because I have done it enough. I would never leave the genre because that would be a wrong move. Of course, if something convinces me or there is a gut call or mummy papa tells me ‘ki nai beta ye toh karna hi chahiye’ (laughs), then that is different.
In real life, how much are you like the person on screen?
There are some personality traits that I share with my characters but otherwise, I am a bit different than what I play on screen. I love to make people laugh in life also. I am that jovial guy in every group who lightens up the mood in any situation. Also, my characters usually are people who say what they feel but I am an overthinker. People have hobbies like singing, dancing or something. I have a hobby of thinking. I think a million times before I speak.
What are the sort of films that you like and what are the sort of films you want to be a part of?
The kind of films I like are thrillers. I love watching space films or crazy dark films. I also enjoy watching action and romantic films too.
Now, the kind of films I want to be part of, hmm… well, I love Sriram Raghavan. I am a huge admirer. I would love to collaborate with him. I also love Zoya Akhtar and Vishal Bharadwaj’s films. So, I am hoping I get to work with these directors in the future.
You have two back to back releases – Arjun Patiala and Khandaani Shafakhana. How are the characters different?
While Arjun Patiala is a spoof comedy, Khandaani Shafakhana is a drama with comedy touch to it. The common factor is that I am trying to make people laugh but in Khandaani Shafakhana, there is a lot more depth to my character. Doing both films was quite fun.
Is there an effort to keep your performance in each film different from the last one? Do you add your own touch to the character?
There is. As an actor, I also want to do something different be it the appearance, the dialect or the performance. Sometimes people feel, ‘oh, it is the same’ but you know, from our end, we try our best.
Diljit is also known for his comic timing. Was there any moment when you thought he has done better than you?
Yes, many! I am a huge admirer of Diljit as a performer. I think comedy comes very naturally to him but I also loved him in 1984, which is a hardcore serious film. So, he has got a huge range. And obviously, it is fun to work with an actor who is so good at the genre we are working towards or making the film on.
Do you believe comedy is an easy way to send across a social message in society?
I don’t know about easy but surely an entertaining way to put across a message. If I have to learn something, I would rather want to be taught in a fun manner. I think that way it gets registered better in people’s mind.
Khandaani Shafakhana breaks taboos around sex and the job of a sexologist. How important are such films?
Sex education is happening in metro cities but we need to take it to every corner of the country. It is something that we all should focus on as it is very important.
People don’t realise the importance of talking about sex. I come from Jalandhar. I could not talk about sex or wasn’t even educated about it while growing up. However, as a father, I want my kids to be able to talk to me about anything under the sky.
Anything happening on Fukrey’s next installment?
We really wish that it happens super quick but there is a confirmation from the makers that the scripting has begun. As soon as we have the script, we will go on the floors.
Is it exciting to collaborate with the same team?
Absolutely. We are constantly in touch. Fukrey is really close to all our hearts. My Fukrey director Mrigdeep Singh Lamba is turning producer with Khandaani Shafakhana and co-producing Rooh Afza with Dinesh Vijan. I am really happy for him. He is the most hardworking person I have seen in my life. I am happy that we both have been in touch since Fukrey’s release.