• Saturday, April 01, 2023

Arts and Culture

Lights, camera and lots of action

EXPERIMENTAL: Sidharth Malhotra (Photo: Sujit Jaiswal/ AFP/ Getty Images)

By: Manju Chandran



FEARLESS actor Sidharth Malhotra has never shied away from pushing the envelope and experimenting with his roles in a way that most actors don’t.

He was last seen in Jabariya Jodi earlier this year, where he played a Bihari man who kidnaps greedy grooms and won praise for his performance.

The dashing star’s new film Marjaavaan sees him portray an intense man, who can go to any length for his love. The powerful movie also features Tara Sutaria, Rakul Preet Singh and Riteish Deshmukh in key roles.

Ahead of the release of Marjaavaan on November 15, Eastern Eye caught up with Sidharth Malhotra in Mumbai to talk about the film, what led him to take up the role and his upcoming projects. The actor also opened up about staying away from the web-space and more.

With Marjaavaan, you return to the action space again. How does it feel?
I am entering into the action space after three to four films – last was Gentleman (2017) – and this kind of action after Ek Villain (2014) and Brothers (2015). Here, I am beating up 10 more people, pulling up tankers and breaking helmets. But Marjaavaan is larger-than-life. It’s an intense love story, but its treatment is giving it a, I would say, 70s and 80s cinema kind of feel. Because my director was very convinced by it and I am also a big fan of that era, we are trying to do something new with an intense, passionate love story.

Is this more challenging than the normal roles you get in today’s times?
It requires more conviction from an actor’s point-of-view, because it is all about the attitude and the personality on screen. You want to stand there, show that anger and beat up that many people, and have a style. I have been a fan of these elements in a film. I am a huge fan of Amitabh Bachchan, Sunny Deol and Sanjay Dutt. It helps me at least to believe in this kind of cinema. I think our Indian audience likes this journey that you take them through in those two hours, and we are hoping to entertain them with our intense love story.

What drew you to be a part of Marjaavaan?
I met (director) Milap Zaveri a year ago before his film Satyameva Jayate (2018) released and said I wanted to do an intense love story. He replied that he had one. And that is when I heard the script of Marjaavaan. It had action also, which I liked. Then we realised we needed somebody unique for the villain’s character. That’s how Riteish Deshmukh came on board. That is where the project became interesting because it’s a cast friendly film.

Tell us more… 
I think it is a great role for Riteish. For the first time, we see a negative character being played by a dwarf. Today, we have the technology to do it, and I think he is very entertaining in the film. Apart from being menacing – and, yeah, the child in me wanted to play the hero always – I got very excited and said to myself that let’s play a quintessential hero for a change. In the trailer, we see an undercurrent of religious references to mythology.

Is that the USP of the film?
It is not a take on a religion! It is not a religious conflict. The conflict is about just power and what happens to the love story. It’s incidental that these lines are there in the trailer. You have to see the film to know more. We have one more trailer, which focuses on the love story and is predominantly about the film. Marjaavaan is essentially a love story between my character and Tara Sutaria’s. She is mute in the film, so it makes it special and innocent. What happens in their lives is what you see in the film.

The movie has good music. Which is your favourite song in the film?
I love the two love songs that we have, Tum Hi Aana and Thodi Jagah. I like both songs, but Thodi Jagah, if given enough time, would become as good. We are happy that the music of the film is working because the love story is an essential part of the film. People are also loving the visuals on the music.

Sidharth Malhotra with Tara Sutaria in his new film Marjaavaan

How was it to work with Riteish Deshmukh for the second time?
This film has a lot of reunions. It is me and Riteish Deshmukh, me and Rakul Preet, me and Milap Zaveri (who also wrote Ek Villain). Tara Sutaria was a new entry. It was great working with everyone. Whenever Riteish Deshmukh comes in my love story, the girl dies. He is the main reason I don’t get the girl at the end. (Laughs) I have to stop doing love stories with him. But it is interesting to have this kind of pairing where he is the antagonist. Here, he has come in a new avatar and it’s so refreshing to see him like this. It adds a lovely flavour to the film.

The special effects used in the film are great…
It’s just technology that we have used and suddenly the impact is different. You know a guy who is vertically challenged and doing such menacing things, looking up to you and saying such stuff. It’s very interesting. It is going to be really fresh for the audience. Shooting it was at times tedious. We had to use a green screen. Sometimes when he is standing, I am staring at his crotch, saying the lines because the eye-line has to match. Also, somebody who saw from the outside, found it really funny. Sometimes we were talking to thin air because he had to be placed in it during editing. I think technically shooting with such a character sometimes becomes tedious, but the final product feels great. You started your career as an assistant director.

Would you like to go behind the camera someday and helm a project?
I love the process of filmmaking. Everything about the business I have learnt from being an assistant director. I never went to a film school, so that was like a film school for me. Maybe, but not in the next few years. I am hungry and selfish as an actor right now.

Many actors are venturing into the digital space. Do you have any plans?
Again, it has not excited me as such. There is enough audience and a variety of roles to play in films. So far, it has not intrigued me so much to play a character in that medium because we are getting to play such different characters in movies. I have made sure all my films look different, from different worlds.

What are your upcoming releases?
I am shooting for Shershaah, which is a biopic of captain Vikram Batra.

This is your first biopic. Did you find it challenging?
Every film is challenging and not easy. Shershaah has its own difficulties in terms of shooting and locations. It is a film based in the 1990s and about the Kargil war. He has a twin, so I am playing a twin brother as well. I had been trying to make that film for two-and-a-half years. Finally, producer Shabbir Boxwala and I took it to Dharma Productions, and we are making the film today. So, we still have the shooting left. By the way, Shershaah was his (Vikram Batra) code name at Kargil war.

Do you have a dream role?
I think a superhero character. India doesn’t have a superhero character, which is our own desi version, and if any writers are listening and they have any character that we can build on, I am in. There is so much potential to create something here. The West is doing so well; we all watch their superheroes. It has to be new as I don’t want to emulate anybody. India has to have a new one. If you copy Superman what is the point.

The audience wants to see you in an out-and-out comedy. Have not you been offered anything all these years?
There are so many genres, but an out and out comedy has not been set up. Jabariya Jodi was an attempt to make a light film. Kapoor & Sons (2016) is light, but it is not a ‘ha-ha’ comedy. Let’s see if I get any comedy in the future.

Marjaavaan is in cinemas now


Eastern Eye

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