The nervous energy is palpable as Ishaan Khatter talks about the much anticipated Dhadak, set to release in a couple of weeks. “Many people are asking me if I am feeling pressurized. The comparisons can be taxing, as Sairat was such a huge hit. We are trying to keep our wits about us,” says Khatter. While many appreciated the lead pair — Khatter and Janhvi Kapoor — not everything was positive; some comments were just mean.
But through this all, Khatter maintains calm. “I think it’s important to maintain a perspective of your own, for if you get carried away by everything people say, you wouldn’t know where to look. I remember one article where they compared the trailer of Dhadak to the film Sairat. It was a direct comparison and the second line of the article said, ‘I have not seen Sairat but…’ I found that very amusing,” he says. Khatter, too like Kapoor, comes from a family of actors, parents Rajesh Khattar and Neelima Azeem, and half-brother Shahid Kapoor.
Kapoor too is relatively calm. “I think people are quick to make judgments, maybe because Sairat has such a sentimental value attached to it. I hope people give us a chance,” she says. And while both the actors, who were in Pune this week for the promotion of the film, have accepted that the comparisons are obvious, Khatter clarifies some misconceptions. For instance, that Dhadak is an adaptation and not a remake of Sairat, is a distinction that most people fail to make. “It was never meant to be a gimmicky remake. It is an honest adaptation. The characters, their ideas, and idiosyncrasies are different. It’s a new film, even for those who have watched Sairat. I think most people question the intention of making Dhadak. I don’t think it was ever made to take advantage of the commercial viability of it,” he says. Likewise, the rustic Parshya of Sairat (Madhukar Bagala), the character which Khatter plays is similar and dissimilar in many ways to Parshya. “He is a 19-year-old from Udaipur, who does odd jobs with tourists and helps his father run a cafe. He is naive, unassuming and leads a simple life. And yet a lot of his identity comes from being Rajasthani. You know, even the locals in Udaipur have an air about them, an intrinsic pride, which is unlike Parshya,” says Khatter.
Both actors admit having watched Sairat several times before the film went on floors and which is why Kapoor insists her character, Parthavi, is very different from Archie of Sairat. “I constantly feel judged and I won’t lie that there have been days when I have been down and out about it. But I love acting and nothing means more to me than being in front of the camera. I know that many people feel that I have got this opportunity too easily and I feel a sense of responsibility towards them. I want to work hard and prove myself,” says Janhvi.
Ask her what her late mother Sridevi told her when she saw the footage of Dhadak before her death and Kapoor’s voice drops considerably. “She had seen 20 minutes of footage. She was very happy, she said a lot which was very surprising. But even from her, even though she is my mom, I feel like I would have to earn the appreciation. I feel uncomfortable talking about what she said. I want people to form their own opinions,” says Kapoor.