Actor Varun Dhawan on Sunday said that there was a time when he was leaning towards gritty cinema and would have done anything in his power to be launched by Anurag Kashyap. The actor was speaking at an in-conversation session Dha-One, moderated by writer Rumi Jaffery, with his father, filmmaker David Dhawan, at the ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here.
His Badlapur director Sriram Raghavan and IFFI Indian Panorama chairperson Rahul Rawail were part of the audience.”Initially my leaning was always towards the left side. I had loved ‘Black Friday’, Sriram’s films… I was leaning over there. I would have probably given my right hand at that time to be launched by Anurag Kashyap. Honestly,” Varun said.
To this David said, “Thank God”. Varun said when he told his father that he was doing Badlapur, the veteran filmmaker received the news negatively. David added, “I saw he had grown a beard for the character, he didn’t use to laugh, he didn’t use to talk for 20 days. So I asked my wife ‘when will he cut his beard?’ I didn’t know what he was doing. But thought, ‘chalo, achhi hee banegi’.
“I saw the film. Sriram showed me twice and I loved the film. I said ‘it’s a revenge story, it’s a Hindustani (Indian) film’.”
Varun also revealed he had visited a psychiatrist for a couple of sessions after working on the emotionally disturbing Badlapur. When the revelation was met by both horror and laughs from the audience, the actor gave a nod to mental health awareness. He said, “There’s nothing wrong in that, to speak your mind. Whatever that’s inside you, it just gets balanced. They didn’t say that ‘there’s something’… don’t get scared. Nothing went wrong with me. But the doctor said, ‘If you’ll stay in an intense environment for a long time, so it will happen.”
The actor said he realised that David is a known name in the film industry after the watchman of their building told him “your father is a big director”. Recounting his childhood dream, Varun said he wanted to own a channel where he would have his own talk show “where I would be able to do stand-up comedy and entertainment”.
“I was obsessed with Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Govinda and Mehmood… All those people who used to do improv comedy. I used to think ‘these people are so talented’. And I also used to find such characters not only on the screen but also in real life.
“There always used to be a person in the group who used to be the ‘jaan’ of the group, who does the comedy. The one who used to be the joker, the comedian. I always wanted to be that person,” he said.
The actor, whose last release was Shoojit Sircar’s October, said he also gave a shot to doing a day-job at CitiBank. Later he auditioned for Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat and David got upset after he came to know about it. The filmmaker recalled saying, “‘You are mad or what you’re going to do this ‘Dhobi Ghat’? I told his mother that ‘if he wants to do films, he should do it properly. He can’t start it (career) with this kind of film.”
But David was relieved when Karan Johar told him that Varun will be the hero in his next, Student of the Year. “I said, ‘What more can you ask for?’ And he never asked me to make a film for him. When Karan said I’m directing the film, I said (to Varun), ‘Now you just put your feet on his shoulders and jump’,” he said.
Varun said he was not scared for his big debut as he thought if anything goes south, “bill to Karan Johar pe phatega” (“it will be on Karan’s head)”. He, however, added that he was most stressed while shooting for his father’s Main Tera Hero, his second film.
“Working with papa was the toughest. I used to be bullied there. He treated me very badly on the sets. I even cried on the day two of the shoot in my van. My brother came and laughed at me. He said, ‘Papa has worked with tough actors like Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn. Don’t think he’ll treat you any different’,” the actor said.
Varun said after the “bright and happy” Main Tera Hero, working in dark thriller Badlapur was a major gearshift for him. “So when I left the sets of Main Tera Hero, directors used to ask me to take it easy. Sriram asked me to calm down as I had really overdone the film’s death scene at the hospital such that the real patients in the wards nearby had woken up wondering what was happening,” he said. The actor, whose next will be the drama Kalank, said every film is a “make or break” opportunity for him.
“I want to do all kinds of cinema. I always function in extremes – either happy or sad. So as I have done mostly happy films recently, I would soon want to do one in the other space,” said while looking at Raghavan in the audience.
He earlier said he wore spectacles for the event to inspire the director to imagine a character for him once again – probably a negative one.
Varun said he went for diverse projects like Badlapur and Badrinath ki Dulhania among others as he could see the “hunger” in the eyes of the directors who wanted to prove a point. When asked which actor he wants to emulate, he simply replied, “I want to be Varun Dhawan.”