After a romantic, easy-going, coming-of-age Student Of The Year, Varun Dhawan has slipped easily into the role of a typical filmi hero. By his own admission, Dhawan says that the choice of his second film, the just-released Main Tera Hero, which has him doing comedy, chasing girls and beating up several goons, is a complete contrast to his first film. “It builds up excitement, but you need to have confidence to take risks,” says the 26-year-old. While the film has got a mixed response, no one can deny the fact that the young actor has a remarkable screen presence, is a spontaneous actor and has his female fans in a frenzy!
We caught up with the budding star to talk about his second release, famous dad and director of the film, David Dhawan, growing up in a film family and more.
Your film, Main Tera Hero, has got the biggest opening for an actor’s second film. Did that come as a pleasant surprise or something that you expected?
I didn’t know about this. Well, if this is a fact then I am pleasantly surprised by the response. But, what matters to me is the film. If it continues to do well during the weekdays and people keep enjoying themselves and be entertained, then I am happy.
You have been visiting the theatres to gauge the audience reaction to the film. What was it that they loved about the film, the music, dialogues or anything else?
Some people told me that they like my energy, while some said they were seeing a David Dhawan comedy after a very long time. One lady walked upto me and blessed me. It felt good. It felt like I had made a connection with the audience.
Everyone is talking about the scenes, where you are shown having a conversation with God (Lord Ganpati) in Main Tera Hero.
My interactions with God in the film are something that everyone has liked a lot. They are funny throughout.
How do you react to the comparisons of your character, Seenu, with the ones that were essayed by Govinda in the 90s?
I take it as a compliment (smiles). More than Govinda’s personal style, Main Tera Hero is a David Dhawan kind of cinema. If anyone acts in a film made by my dad, which has a stamp of his film-making style, toh woh actor waisa hi lagega. I still remember when dad was working on Judwaa and Salman (Khan) bhai had to dress up in colourful clothes, which had become synonymous with Govinda sir’s personality. You know like, those red and green pants, yellow shirts and rainbow coloured stuff? At that time, the media had asked Salman bhai similar questions. However, I have not tried to be like anyone in Main Tera Hero. I have already got the experience of wearing hot red pants in my opening scene, while singing Papa kehte hai in Student Of The Year, remember?
Main Tera Hero has everything – romance, drama and oodles of comedy. Your character Sreenath Prasad (Seenu) sings, dances, beats up several goons. How would you describe your experience of doing a typical Bollywood masala entertainer after a coming-of-age flick like Student Of The Year?
Frankly, it was not easy to play Seenu. Since the film demanded everything, dancing, acting, action, drama, it was like juggling four-five balls at one time. I was a little raw after Student Of The Year and there was a little polishing that I needed which happened in the workshops and the preparations of Main Tera Hero. The director of the film (my dad David Dhawan) also helped me a lot.
What was the prep for the film like, since it was the first time you were attempting comedy?
Comedy is the toughest genre. I watched a lot of comic films, both English and Hindi to get into the mood and vibe for Main Tera Hero. In English, it was films like Family Guy and Anchor Man and in Hindi, I watched a lot of Mehmood and Govinda films. While shooting, there was no time to be very conscious or check out my hair and make-up. Everything was very free flowing, with about 20-30 per cent of instant improvisation. I believe that if you enjoy doing something, people will like it. Food makes me happy. So when shooting happy moments, I gorge on cakes and sip cold drinks.
How is your dad as a director on the sets?
I never felt awed by my dad when shooting. In fact, it was like being briefed by any other director. Of course, at times there would be general arguments like what will work for a scene and what won’t, but then that can happen with anyone. On the set, I am a very serious person, and dad’s even more serious. But once the work is complete, he is extremely chilled out, cracking jokes and making the atmosphere extremely light-hearted. In fact, both Nargis (Fakhri) and Ileana (D’cruz) got along very well with Dad and were comfortable with his style of film-making.
Was there anything that surprised you about your father?
First of all, I had never seen him run so fast like I did on the sets of Main Tera Hero. He’s very active on sets; very restless but extremely professional, passionate and disciplined. For him, work and his shootings always comes first, even if he is unwell or has other matters to attend to. That’s a great set of values to have. It’s only after working with him I realised to what extent he can go where work is coined. He was very strict with me. If I asked him too many questions, he would reprimand me saying, ‘ I have directed 42 films yaar. Please go sit quietly.’ (laughs) Main Tera Hero is totally him and his sense of humour.
What is growing up in a film family like?
I have done a course in Management, but I have always been a film buff. It was always films and more films as my brother Rohit and I were both passionate about them. I would watch a movie every second day. At times, my parents would ask me not to overdo it and go to bed if I sat up late. But once computers and laptops came, no one could stop me.
Who have you been influenced by the most in your life?
My older brother Rohit has influenced me a lot. He’s my role model who advices me on things like how to conduct myself during meetings and stuff like that. He has things more figured out in life and he’s more sorted. I know that come what may, it is only he who will give me an honest opinion about myself, my work or anything under the sun.
Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, your next film sounds like a comedy.
No, that’s not a comedy. It’s a proper love story with anguish and heartbreak. It is set in the North and I play a desi character in the film. It’s a very unique and interesting film, made by a very young crew whose average age is around 27-28. It’s a film that I am looking forward to watching because I have not seen anything like that before.
What drew you to the edgy film that you are doing with Sriram Raghavan?
During my growing up years in Nottingham, I watched a lot of dark, edgy films. With Sriram’s film, I will explore this genre as well. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Huma Qureshi are doing the film and more members of the cast are yet to be locked. I am also doing Remo D’Souza’s next, the sequel to ABCD. I enjoy beats and rhythms but the dancing in this film will be of an international standard that will require at least two to three months of training.
How do you like to unwind?
I like to spend time with family, eating home food cooked by my mom, meeting my friends or playing some sport, like cricket. I also love watching movies in the theatre.
Any director you would love to work with?
I like Rohit Shetty’s style of film-making and would love to work with him. Also, Rajkumar Hirani. I want to work with both these Rs.
You are the brand ambassador of WeChat and Panasonic smart phones. What are the factors that you keep in mind before taking up an endorsement?
Before endorsing any product or brand, I need to make sure that I am comfortable with it. I can’t endorse something that I don’t believe in and maybe that’s why, I am not excited about taking everything that comes my way. Also, the goodwill of a company really matters.
What’s your take on promotional activities like city tours, media interactions and all of that?
At times, it can get very tiring. But then, the moment you come up on the stage, interact with fans or just answer questions posed by the media, there is some sort of an adrenaline rush that pumps you up. Plus, you get to perform with people or in front of them, and I love dancing. There is a flipside to everything these days. So even if there is a constant pressure, it is still fun.
With inputs from Priya Adivarekar