From "Student of the Year" To "Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania" - the actor has worked with three different directors, and managed to carry out varied roles with ease. In an interview, Varun speaks about his challenges, his camaraderie with his co-star Alia Bhatt and his future projects.
Excerpts from the interview:
A. Oh, very different! I actually had to change my acting style completely and unlearn a lot of things that I had applied to my characters earlier on. Both of us influenced each other's performances to a large extent. In "Humpty...", she plays a character who's a lot like me.
Q. How is her character like you?
A. I'm charged up and aggressive and a bundle of energy. I play a character who is sensitive and restrained like her. So in that sense we swapped characters. And that could only happen because we both knew one another so well.
Q. You seem to share a great comfort level with one another!
A. I am very comfortable with Alia. And I know she's comfortable with me. We understand each other so well that we forget when the camera is rolling. Alia has a terrific memory and she's brilliant with her lines, whereas I like to improvise a lot. By the time we reached the end of shooting for "Humpty...", Alia was improvising like me.
Q. Was it tougher shooting for "Humpty Sharma..." than "Main Tera Hero"?
To be very honest, I worked harder on "Humpty...". I did many workshops. I never did workshops in "Main Tera Hero". There was a lot more improvisation in my dad's film. Shashank Khaitan the director of "Humpty..." is a different school. Shashank controlled my expressions. I normally do a half-smile on camera. He showed me how to smile fully. I also delivered my lines slower, much slower.
Q. So Shashank is a different school?
A. Because he comes from a theatre background and has been a student of Naseer sir(Naseeruddin Shah), he has an authentic approach to acting. It was an enriching experience. Shashank would give me four takes. The first two takes would be the way Shashank wanted me to do a scene. Invariably, his interpretation was correct. It took me a while to understand his method of working. But I learnt a lot from me.
Q. You had three very different directors in your first three films!
A. Yes, Karan Johar, my father (David Dhawan) and now Shashank. They are all entertainers. But different kinds of entertainers. I want everyone to go back home feeling happy after watching all my films.
Q. Even Sriram Raghavan's film "Badlapur" (said to be a revenge drama)?
A. Yes, it could make the audience of a particular kind of cinema, smile. Sriram's film has taken its toll on me. And it showed during my promotions of "Humpty...". A lot of people wanted to know why I was looking depressed. Even "Humpty..." is not a comedy. It's a love story. But there's no melodrama. Even when my character is sad, he wipes his tears and moves on. That's how life is.
Q. There was news of a home production directed by your brother Rohit and produced by your dad?
A. Hopefully we'll do a film together in the future. But nothing right now.