by ASJAD NAZIR
RISING STAR VARUN DHAWAN TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW FILM AND THE SECRET OF HIS SUCCESS
RAPIDLY-rising star Varun Dhawan seems to be doing everything right – and that has been perfectly illustrated with his impressive record at the Bollywood box office.
The bankable actor has an incredibly high hit rate and shown off his impressive range in an array of commercially successful releases.
With his latest film October, he has teamed up with acclaimed director Shoojit Sircar and stars opposite British actress Banita Sandhu. The trailer for the dark drama about love has got a great response, but also created a lot of intrigue because the story is shrouded in mystery.
Eastern Eye caught up with man of the moment Varun to talk about his success, October, his driving force and more…
You seem to be doing everything right. What is your secret?
(Laughs) It won’t remain a secret if I tell you. Honestly speaking, there is no secret. This is a creative line so you have to listen to your inner-voice and heart, so I do the scripts that touch me.
Some of them are ones I do because I want people to laugh, have a good time and be entertained in a summer blockbuster type of movie. Ones that have amazing songs, good action, look good and everything else.
Then some have a deep connection with me, lots of depth, and enable me to put a message out there. I don’t want to sit and bore people by talking, so would rather give out that message through my creativity and movies. So it’s just something like that!
Is it fair to say you have been far too busy to enjoy your amazing success?
That is a great observation Asjad because I have had zero time to enjoy any of the success. I have had zero time to enjoy everyday life in fact, but having said that when you enjoy doing what you do, the lines between work and play get really blurred.
So when I go to shoot I don’t really see it as work. It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy what I do. Facing the camera is one of the biggest highlights of my life.
October seems to be surrounded in a lot of mystery; what did you like about it?
The mystery is what I liked about it. The trailer has really given people a sense of intrigue and making everyone think: ‘What is it really about?’ So that is amazing! Also playing the character of Dan has been fulfilling for me. The film is very modern.
It is 2018, so the film looks and sounds global because we live in the world of things like Netflix, Amazon and so many other similar such services available in India today. Technically, it is a very sound film of international quality. I am really happy that I have this type of film coming out.
You said you needed this film most in your career. What did you mean by that?
What I meant by that is post-Badlapur, I did four or five fun, happy summer blockbuster type of films, and I kind of got a bit burned out by the end of it. They take a lot out of you! However easy they seem, they are actually very difficult films to do, promote and put out.
You put in a lot looking a certain way, dancing, making people enjoy it and the rest of it. I couldn’t give out that emotion of smiling and being happy all the time. On a human level, I was somewhere else.
What do you mean?
By that I mean my personality was somewhere else. I needed to put out a message, and then October came along. This film is not a love story, but is about love. The definition of love is very debatable, especially in today’s day and age. It is such an abused word!
I myself growing older was trying to understand what love means. The film had so much more besides that, but it did help me discover some answers.
Tell us about your character…
Dan is a Delhi boy. I based him on an intern I found in the hotel we were living in. He is a 24/25-year-old guy working hard in the hotel. He has this motorbike he rides to work. He learns cooking, cleaning, washing, working in the laundry room, making beds, cleaning toilets, folding clothes and serving coffee.
So he does everything, and at the same time has voyeuristic experiences by observing all those, including foreign guests, he encounters. I remember Shoojit would make me go serve guests as a regular person and shoot me. He often shot me without me knowing actually.
How does Shoojit Sircar compare to other directors you have worked with?
I don’t want to compare him to anyone, but I have a different connection to him beyond just films. He is just a great guy.
I would suggest doing it certain ways to help out, but he was like: ‘It’s my money. I don’t care if we make money or not on the venture. I am making it to put a message out, and let’s hope people get that message.’ He is so pure and pressed the reset button on me so it felt like I was doing my first film.
Another hero of the film for me is the acclaimed writer Juhi Chaturvedi. What was it like bringing her words to life with October?
Juhi is someone who was on set and part of the film 24/7. I don’t think my character would have flourished without her. She is such a beautiful writer and an incredibly talented person.
What I think is amazing is the relationship between her and Shoojit sir. The kind of respect he gives her as a writer is not something you see in Indian films. But when you see writers like Juhi, you feel that is going to change and she is like a pioneer almost.
So writers in Bollywood don’t really get that respect…
She will get that trend back of giving writers the respect they deserve. We need to start giving that respect to writers and cultivating that thought in our industry again. She was there for me 24/7 and almost holding my hand throughout the shooting of October.
I was leaning on her emotionally to get through this film and she would explain so many things about my character, including his mannerisms. Her imagination of the character was almost like having a reference book throughout. I am eternally grateful to her.
We love that you have British girl Banita Sandhu making her debut opposite you. What can we expect from her?
She is a 20-year-old, but so intelligent and well versed with cinema and emotions. She was amazing! It was great being on set with such a professional actor. She was a joy to work with because she was on the ball and focused 24/7.
Though it is my tenth film, it felt like my first. I really connected with Banita because I was seeing her push herself so much. I am so happy with what she has done. I can’t wait for the film to come out and audiences to see her great work.
What keeps you going on days you are physically and emotionally exhausted?
Honestly, I just think it is the passion for cinema that keeps me going. When your heart is in it, that helps. When you do something with all of your heart and something you really wanna do, the lines do get blurred between work and play.
When I get up early in the morning at 6.30am, get ready and go to work, I don’t feel that I am going to work. I just feel like I am going out there to play.
I am predicting October will be your best film yet in terms of acclaim. But how are you feeling in the lead-up to release; nervous, confident or excited?
(Laughs) The response to the trailer has been so overwhelming. It is something that I didn’t expect to be very honest. It’s amazing! It very rarely happens when the entire film industry comes out and supports a project.
The kind of messages and calls I have got from directors, producers and actors have been so encouraging. They have been so supportive that I feel so good about it and the film. It has really been overwhelming.
Why should we go and watch October?
When you watch a trailer, you see how it looks and see if you are intrigued. I think October gives the right feel when you watch it as a viewer. The background music, the way that it has been shot, the sound quality and everything else is outstanding.
The look, feel and texture of the October trailer make it feel like a good movie. If I like the trailer, I will go watch a film and feel audiences will do the same with this one. There are some films that are entertaining summer blockbuster types and others like this that just offer something deeper.
- October is in cinemas now