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The next big thing in Hindi cinema


BREAKOUT STAR: Siddhant Chaturvedi
BREAKOUT STAR: Siddhant Chaturvedi

ACTOR SIDDHANT CHATURVEDI ON BECOMING AN IN-DEMAND STAR

by MOHNISH SINGH

EVERY year Bollywood has a big breakout star who shines more brightly than the rest and in 2019 that was big screen debutant Siddhant Chaturvedi.

His performance as the spirited street rapper, MC Sher, in the Zoya Akhtar-directed Gully Boy tugged at viewers’ heartstrings and garnered massive critical acclaim. The star-making turn has led to Siddhant receiving offers for high-profile movies with leading production houses, and he has become the one to watch out for in Hindi cinema.

Eastern Eye recently caught up with the star on the rise and talked to him in detail about how life has been after the incredible success of Gully Boy. Siddhant also discussed a speculated spin-off on his popular character MC Sher, forthcoming projects with Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions, and an acting dream that is coming true.

How has life changed after Gully Boy?
Life has changed a lot and the year 2019 has been a rollercoaster. I started off with Gully Boy and now, I am living my dream. There are choices now. I don’t have to audition anymore. More than that, there was this dream I always had that I would be working with the best producers, the best directors and the best co-actors, and I am living it now.

Did you always know you wanted to become an actor?
Yes, I always wanted to become an actor. It was not luck by chance. I wanted to act since I was 16 years old, even when I was doing my chartered accountancy (CA) course. I used to take some time out and meet my theatre friends. I used to ride with them, paint with them, sketch and dance with them. So, I was always at it and never gave up. However, I knew I had to complete my CA because I am from a middle-class family and so needed
a backup.

When did you make the final decision to put your CA course on the backburner and try for acting at full throttle?
See, it is difficult to get launched and difficult to make it happen. Also, it takes a lot of time. And what if you don’t make it? There was this fear in me. But at 21, I decided to go all out. My CA final was due. I even filled my examination form, but did not appear for it because I had got my first role Sahil Hooda in the web series Life Sahi Hai (2016) by Luv Ranjan and then I never looked back. I kept auditioning. I was sure that I wanted to make it big in films.

How did you keep going on?
I could have done television. I could have done a lot of web-shows because they were just starting, and I was getting a lot of offers. But I wanted to make it big in films. I think the only thing was to have the power to say no, which gave me a lot of strength. I knew what I wanted to do in my life. I did not compromise with my dream. I also want to thank my parents because they were supportive. They were sure I would make it even when I was feeling low and did not have much confidence.

When you told your parents you wanted to be an actor, what was their reaction?
I hear this question a lot. I am open with my parents. They brought me up, so they knew I had a bug for acting. I feel weird when people ask this question expecting an answer where the father is shocked – as if he does not know what is going on in his child’s life. My father encouraged me to dance in parties because I dance well. He felt proud seeing me show off my dancing skills, and he knew that I had some interest in the creative field. He was just waiting for me to tell him that.

There have been rumours about a spin-off on MC Sher, could you please tell us something more about that?
That is the decision of the filmmakers. They are the best people to talk about it. My work was to play the role of MC Sher and I played it. I would be delighted if they made it, but I feel it would be lacking without the world building we did in Gully Boy. So, if they did Gully Boy 2, then the whole team could be together and that would be more entertaining.

Siddhant Chaturvedi in Gully Boy with Ranveer Singh

When you first saw Bunty Aur Babli (2005) did you ever think that you would be playing a lead role in its sequel after 15 years?
I remember when I first went to see Bunty Aur Babli. It was an evening show. After that, I went and bought the cassette of its songs and danced till 1 am. It was an iconic album with iconic actors in an iconic film. I never thought I would be a part of it. Every party at that time had Bunty Aur Babli songs. I was a huge fan of the film. I never could have imagined that I would be one day playing Bunty.

You are set to work with Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan in the sequel. What do you have to say about that?
I am so happy to be working with Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji because I am a big fan of these actors. They look so cute together in Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007) and Hum Tum (2004), and individually they are strong actors. Saif Ali Khan in Sacred Games (2018-19) and Rani Mukerji in Mardaani (2014) gave solid performances. They work together so well, and I am very excited to be a part of this team.

How did you get cast in the sequel to Bunty Aur Babli?
After watching Gully Boy, Aditya Chopra sir called Ritesh Sidhwani sir to enquire about me. Through Ritesh Sidhwani, I came to know Aditya Chopra wanted to meet me and when we met, he complimented my performance in the movie. He said that when he saw the film, he thought ‘this boy is a hero’. I replied that for a long time I also believed I am a hero (laughs). We laughed and he told me there is a project he is working on, and he may consider me for a role in it. He didn’t give me any specific details.

What happened next?
After a month, I got a call and I was told that Bunty Aur Babli 2 is being made and the director wants to meet me. I met Varun V Sharma, and we talked for long. Then he asked me if I was interested and I obviously jumped at the offer.

What made you say yes to the film?
When Varun narrated the script of Bunty Aur Babli sequel, I went mad laughing. The film has entertainment, mass appeal, songs and dances. But apart from that, it also has content. It’s not like Bunty and Babli from the predecessor; the new ones are the voices of the youth now. So, the movie also tackles subject matter that is relevant nowadays. There is a reason they are doing this. The story is layered because the makers are also conscious that the time has gone to make a movie just for the sake of entertainment, and I specially connected to that part of the story. The movie balances entertainment with content and it is a Yash Raj Films production. The name speaks for itself.

Siddhant Chaturvedi with Sharvari Wagh in Bunty Aur Babli 2 first look

Bunty Aur Babli was a huge hit and people will definitely compare the sequel with the predecessor. Do you feel any pressure?
No, I don’t feel that pressure. I felt it when I did not have any work. The pressure was when I had to meet casting directors and tell them about myself and justify why I should be chosen as the lead for the film. I have auditioned a lot, but I don’t feel the pressure now. On the other hand, I am excited to venture forward.

You are also working in Shakun Batra’s next…
Shakun Batra is one of my dream directors. Kapoor & Sons (2016) is one of the finest films I have seen. There were some directors that I felt were out of my league when I was struggling. I admired them, but I knew that I wouldn’t get to work with them until I prove myself. Among them was Zoya Akhtar, and I was ecstatic that I got to work with her. There is also Shakun Batra, who has quite a different vision, which is very contemporary. Now, I am working in one of his films, and I am living past my dreams.

You also write. Do you have any plans to write a script for a film?
As of now, I don’t, but I think I should. Even when I am playing a character I write. I maintain a diary for each character. There is a diary for MC Sher, there is a diary for Bunty and there is also a diary for the film with Shakun Batra. I maintain it and keep sharing that with my director. As soon as I said yes to the film, the next day I started writing about my character.