Varun Dhawan, by his own admission, chased director Shoojit Sircar for a year for “a meet” before he finally bagged his film October. But little did the poster-boy of commercial cinema know that working on this film would cause him an existential crisis.
The Shoojit Sircar world ripped the stardom off Varun Dhawan, leaving him vulnerable like never before.
In a group interview, the actor shared that filming for October felt unnervingly close to reality, something that ended up disturbing but later healing him.
“I have never been so vulnerable on a film set. After a while, it stopped feeling like shooting. When you know that this is acting, it’s a film, there’s a block, that it’s okay. But when it stops feeling like acting and feels like real life, then the floodgates open.”
“There was a part when I started crying on set, and it wasn’t the hero-type crying, it was the one that makes you embarrassed. It was for five-six minutes. It was strange. Then he (Shoojit) came, patted my back and said, ‘Give me shot’,” said Varun.
Days into the film’s shoot, the young actor was told to get rid of all his hero-like tricks, which have helped him become a favourite of kids and the youth. Varun had to change his walk, the pitch and the tone which he used while acting in other films.
“Of course, I had seen Piku and Pink, so, I knew it would be different but how different it would be, I didn’t know. My pitch was lowered, my energy was calmed down. My walk was changed. The only thing that I reshot in this film was my walk. All my walks he reshot. He told me, ‘You are looking like a hero. You are walking like the way you walked in Judwaa 2.’ So, for seven days I just practiced my walk. And from there we got into the groove.”
The process that Shoojit used to get Varun into the skin of Dan, a 20-something boy who goes to extreme lengths to heal the girl he loves, made the actor feel cared about for the first time. It made him realise how in his previous films, he and his characters were approached mechanically by the people he worked with.
“I stopped looking at my phone to calm myself. Much of our anxiety comes because of our cellphone. So, the first thing he told me was to not look at the phone. Instead he asked me to look at plants or nature. Then I created my own playlist that I used to listen to. He gave me Hare Rama Hare Krishna by Jahnavi Harrison, I started listening to Jim Morrison, whom I used to listen to in college. So, I had my October playlist.
“Shantanu Moitra, who has given music for the film, asked me to share my soundtrack with him. I told him that it’s just a few songs, but he insisted saying, ‘I need to know how Dan is feeling’. For the first time, people were caring about how I was feeling as an actor. Before this, no one gave a damn, you just come and give your shot. But this time, people actually cared,” said the actor.
The other take away for Varun from working on October has been the equal treatment that the team gave him and his co-star Banita Sandhu, who is a newcomer.
“They work like a family. I was a new member. Banita was a new member. They treated me and her equally. The only difference was that I got more security in public. Else, I was also a newcomer.”
Written by Juhi Chaturvedi, October arrives in theatres on April 13.