FROM dismissing nepotism to calling himself a “Left-leaning” actor, Varun Dhawan, accompanied by father David Dhawan, kept the audience entertained during a series of conversations between generations in the movie business. To a question asked by a young boy if being David Dhawan’s son helped him land his debut role in Student of the Year, Varun spoke of auditioning for Dhobi Ghat and losing the role, and even trying his hand at getting a bank job. Growing up, he said, he always wanted to own a channel or become a comedian. “In every group, there is always this one guy who is the joker, the life of the group. If you ask me, that has been my lifelong dream,” he said.
David, too, denied having played any role in his son’s career. He said, “He (Varun) assisted Karan Johar but I didn’t know about it. He has shocked me actually. I thought he would get a job in a bank or something.” David added that while directing his son later in life (in Judwaa 2), he had saved his “worst behaviour for his son”. “But I was never treating him like a newcomer. I used to save the worst for him,” he said.
Recalling his initial days of being directed by his father, Varun recalled, “There was a stand kept with a ball and he said: ‘this is Anupam Kher, now act’. And I was wondering if this was for real. Then he shouted, ‘Do it!’. I said, ‘Anupam is a human being, why have you put the tennis ball here?’ He said, ‘if you can’t act with a tennis ball, you cannot act’. I was scared and wondered which method of acting this is. Then I realised that it’s the David Dhawan method of acting.”
Varun admitted that he didn’t feel the pressure of his first movie, as he banked on Johar taking the brickbats if the movie failed. It was only from the second movie onwards that he came face to face with the “stress” element. But it is Anurag Kashyap’s movies that the junior Dhawan is eyeing, as he said, “Initially, my leaning was always towards the Left side. I loved Black Friday, and all of Sriram Raghavan’s films. I would have given my right hand to be launched by Kashyap. But nobody was taking me seriously at that time.”
The duo also offered an insight into each other’s working style. While the father called his son the “most insecure actor” who gets emotionally attached to the characters he essays, Varun spoke of his father as a “director with the most clarity”.
“I first realised (my father) was a big director, through a watchman. We used to live in this building in Bandra and play on the terrace. Once, the watchman came and shouted: ‘Come down!’ And to me he said: ‘Your father is a big director, he will punish me!’,” said the young actor.
The hall, meanwhile, filled with a young crowd. “Everyone asks for a selfie for their child when they spot me. No one asks for a photograph of mine for themselves. That is where my fanbase is. I am doing a dance movie soon, a full children’s movie,” he added.