Touted as the next ‘big’ superstar with nine thumping hits and a critically acclaimed last film — ‘October’, Varun Dhawan is indeed on a roll. Despite being a star kid with the obvious trappings of stardom, he is endearingly humble and down to earth. No wonder, his fans — more so the female variety — have multiplied to humongous numbers. In fact, this young hero is said to be the only one from his generation who can generate the kind of frenzy among his fans akin to what Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan did in their heyday.
One of the most searched actors on the internet, a teeny-bopper’s poster boy and a pin-up star for females of varied ages, and for kids as well. So, what makes this wonder boy so special? His films may not be masterpieces but they are entertaining. As an actor, he is honest. As a dancer, he is phenomenal. His passion, hard work and commitment show on screen and the audience just love him.
Ask Varun Dhawan if he is the next big superstar of Bollywood, and he laughs it off, saying, “Honestly, thank you for saying that. But everyone knows that the box office is extremely unpredictable. What works today, may not work tomorrow! So please don’t go by box office predictions. Yes, I have had 9 back-to-back hits and touch wood, my films have all done well. But I really don’t think too much of being called a superstar or whatever. I’m too busy giving my best in each film.”
Varun, what is your winning mantra?
See again, there is no set winning formula otherwise every filmmaker would be following it. But yes, I think my films are perhaps giving the audience what they probably want to see, instead of telling them that this is what they should see. I think the audience is wise and they know what they like and what they don’t.
But is there anything the box office goes by?
The box office has a lot to do with emotions. They have to connect through emotions. So the audience has to connect emotionally with you — whether it’s love or hate. And it is your job as an actor to evoke some kind of emotion in them to get them to connect with you.
You are extremely humble — the way you speak or connect with people. As a star kid, one did assume you’d have aired. Is your grounded demeanour the reason why people connect with you?
I hope so. But honestly, all the interactions I have had with the other star kids, I find them all down to earth. All of them are trying to do some good work. But for me, it’s crystal clear that I got into this line for the love of films, for what I learn as an artiste. The name game, fame game, money game, stardom… perception is all secondary to me. I haven’t tracked all this as much as I should have considering my box office success. But I am passionate about my work and I give it my all.
And I really can’t take all the credit because I have honestly been extremely lucky to have worked with directors like Sriram Raghavan (Badlapur) or Remo D’Souza in ABCD 2 or even my father David Dhawan who came from a small town and made it big — he’s a very simple man, Shashank Khaitan (Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania) or Shoojit dada (October). All these people are so passionate about cinema and whenever I work with them, their passion makes me work harder. So, I don’t really bother about what tag I get — superstar or whatever — I just pour my passion into my work.
Are you really as grounded as you show or do you also have moments where you flaunt your attitude?
(Laughs) I probably show attitude to people who show attitude to me. If someone acts teda (crooked) with me, I act doubly teda.
But seriously, as an actor what do you think is important?
As an actor, it is my duty to convince my director that I can do my part really well. For instance, Shoojit Sircar — as an actor I just loved working for a man like him. So every day, I would try and convince him that I wanted to come up to his level and deliver, and I was not wasting his time. And that challenge was throughout the shooting of the film. And now I have worked with another perfectionist Sharat Katariya for Sui Dhaga and I feel truly blessed. I’m very careful when I choose my films. Likewise, I’m happy these fabulous directors picked me to act in their films. It is a privilege for me.
Along with the trappings of stardom come other woes, like the media. How do you tackle it?
These days, the media is far sweeter than the social media which can be pretty brutal. The media actually has been very good with me. Of course, they have given me six fictional girlfriends. But seriously that’s absolutely okay, it’s part ’n’ parcel of the industry I am in, and I’m really fine with our media. Actually, the political or the news media is more hardcore or hard-hitting in terms of reporting. Perhaps a little ruthless too… What perhaps upsets me about the media is half-baked knowledge. They don’t get the facts right yet they go ahead and write things. And sometimes there are so many things written in blogs, etc… So it’s so confusing who actually is the media?
Varun, what about marriage?
I don’t think it will be just yet. Of course, I will get married eventually. That’s what my parents want. But there is a lot happening in terms of work etc. Nothing, however, is on the cards just yet.
Do you agree that you have stepped into the big league of superstars as you supposedly garner the same kind of euphoric frenzy that superstars like Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan have seen?
(Laughs) It doesn’t matter whether I agree or not! It’s more important that the audience think that. If you do a poll and ask 10 people, you will definitely get varied responses. You will never get a unanimous answer to that, but if 50 per cent of the people agree with that. I’m happy! Otherwise too, I’m happy doing my work well and giving it my all.