Within five years of starting his career in Bollywood, Varun Dhawan has delivered some of the most memorable and profitable movies released by major studios like Dharma Productions, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment and Balaji Motion Pictures. After delivering moderately successful Dishoom in 2016, the actor started 2017 with Badrinath Ki Dulhania which ended up being one of the highest grossing movies of the year. Now, his second and final release of the year, Judwaa 2, has opened to an earth-shattering response at the ticket window. Also starring Taapsee Pannu and Jacqueline Fernandez, the comic-caper is a reboot of the Salman Khan, Karisma Kapoor and Rambha starrer Judwaa (1997). A few days before the release of his movie, we caught up with Varun Dhawan to talk about his film, social media backlash which stars face on social media, and his upcoming projects.
Judwaa is being rebooted after long 20 years. Therefore, there will obviously be comparisons. How would you compare the two films?
These are the questions I had in mind when I signed the film and the day when we decided we are going to do the film and bring it in 2017. I knew all of this discussion is going to come. I knew one thing, as an actor, that all this will result in some incredible amount of buzz which cannot be bought or created; it is going to be organic. There is going to be chatter but the fact of the matter is that to find out whether it is good or bad you have to go to the theatre to see the film.
How difficult or easy was it to deal with the reboot? Do you recreate it all over again?
Honestly, it is a fresh approach. I have to play it in my own way because you can’t have the same dialogues, the same circumstances. Thus, we have changed a lot of things, the screenplay has changed, and the story has changed. There are five or six iconic scenes in the original Judwaa, which you will see in Judwaa 2. If you are a big fan of the original, you will catch them and if you are a very big fan, then you will catch some other things also.
Why did you all decided on the reboot and not a proper sequel?
It has been twenty years, time passes. There are children who are between 15-17 years old now. They haven’t seen the original Judwaa. From my father’s point of view, who is making the film, somewhere this genre is not being made that much nowadays. This is a Hindi film genre; it has been in Bollywood since ages. Manmohan Desai made this genre. But once there is a bad film in this genre it is blacklisted. You will have to evolve with time. We decided that instead of looking outward, we should look inward.
Would your father have made this film if you were not in it?
It was Sajid Nadiadwala’s idea to make Judwaa 2, always. I think there were a lot of reports that he wanted to make this film before, however, there were some obstacles and the film could not take off. He and dad had a conversation which I was not involved in. I don’t believe he would have made Judwaa 2 with someone else but I don’t think he would have made Judwaa 2 with me as my first film as well.
How was the overall experience working on this project?
It felt like a new film for me. See, David Dhawan has made 44 films in his career, but he is different in Bol Raadha Bol. He is different in Aankhen. He is different in Swarg. He is different in Haseena Man Jayegi. He has this image that he does comedy, but he has story, emotions and a lot of other things in his films. In this film, I saw him concentrate a lot harder on the story, a lot harder on the relationships which have been shown in the movie. It was a great experience working on this project.
Do you think that these days Bollywood is influenced too much by social media and the backlash which stars face at times on social media is influencing them?
Unfortunately, I think yes. It is happening, but I don’t think that big actors get influenced. It is something that will make you think and I would actually rehearse this question. When you all write something on social media, I am sure you all are also thinking it twice before wording it to avoid backlash. When I spoke to a lot of journalists, even outside Mumbai, the kind of messages they showed me which they got from actors’ fans were so scary.
How was working with Karishma Kapoor and Rambha’s counterparts?
I would say that they are not really the counterparts because their roles are completely changed in Judwaa 2. Their importance in the film has changed. Jacqueline and Taapsee play a different character, they react in different ways, they talk in different ways and both are very talented and credible actors. To be Raja and Prem, I have got so much help from Jackie and Taapsee.
In the 90s, the makers didn’t reveal the full video songs but nowadays there is a release of complete songs. Do you think with films like Judwaa 2 some needs to be left to the imagination?
The duration of the ‘Chalti Hai Kya 9 Se 12’ promo is 100 seconds and a lot of people were like, ‘How can they put only 100 seconds? The duration of the song is 3 minutes.’ We only released 100 seconds, even ‘Suno Ganpati Bappa Morya’ is 110 seconds, and maximum we have gone to is 2 minutes 5 seconds for ‘Oonchi Hai Building 2.0’. This was the plan from the beginning that we are not going to give out units that are long because everyone seeing everything for free does not make sense.
Is it fair to blame the directors for the film not doing well or the actors?
If you ask me the truth as a director’s son, if a director’s vision is not interfered with then he is able to make a film that he wants to, at that point it is only his film. I don’t feel it’s fair to blame the actor actually because the actor is not writing the script, the actor is not writing the dialogues. He is being told by someone and the person telling him is the director but we see a lot of actor thrashing because they are the face of the film.
Do you think films nowadays are going too much into promotions?
See, you learn. When I came five years back, then the necessity for promotion was immense and for five years I did those promotions. I did them fervently and I enjoyed them too. I would still do it if I have to. By the time I came to Judwaa 2, I had realised that there is fatigue and the translation of people coming and standing for you in crowds and those who come to the theatres to watch the film is not actually what happens. The translation of social media buzz and this and that, does not really happen.
You are being pegged as the next superstar of Bollywood. Does that keep mounting pressure with each passing film? How do you handle it?
I take it film by film. Honestly, I consider that you should never believe your hype. There is a very old saying which I have heard in many people’s interview “every Friday luck changes” and it’s the right thing. Films are the main thing, if your film is good it will run and people will love you if you make films that are not appealing to people that it won’t work.
You have three films announced Sui Dhaga, October and ABCD 3. Could you tell us something about them?
As of now, definitely, Sui Dhaga and October are the films that are starting. I am starting with October in October and that is a conscious decision and after that Sui Dhaga will take off. ABCD 3 is something that has been in the works for a long time and definitely, Remo and I want to team up for that. Right now we just said that we want to do the film when it will start is yet to be known but we are definitely going to do that film.