Director Shoojit Sircar's new film October, which opened to rave reviews on Friday, saw actor Varun Dhawan step out of familiar territory. The actor, who is one of Hindi cinema's most bankable stars, talks about becoming a newcomer for the film and how his father director David Dhawan reacted to it:
It's a film I wanted to do. Shoojit (Sircar) has had the idea since 2004. This film takes birth from a very personal space of the writer and director. I chased Shoojit because I wanted to work with him. But when he spoke to me about it I said, "It's not my comfort zone, why do you want to take me?" I told him I'll become a newcomer. He gave me so much freedom to let my eyes and silence do the talking. This is the most fun I've ever had on a film set.
You have to have integrity as a human being. You can't fake it. When an actor is disinterested it shows straight away. That's why I do films when I care about something. I did this film because the subject meant a lot to me.
I didn't know about the ending. They kept it from me. So during the shoot, like the audience, I also started hoping. This film stopped being a film for me. When he crushed the hope, I was very angry with Shoojit da. I said, "Why would you make me care so much about a person and take it away from me?" I remember crying in a scene where it was not required. What a weird film it is, but in a great way.
I live for experiences. You're always looking for a teacher and I found this man. I didn't know whether I was doing well or not. The only feedback I got was from the gimbal operator. He said, "Bahut accha kar rahe ho. Spot boy discuss kar rahe ki aap bahut change ho gaye ho." Then I think Shoojit told him to stop giving me feedback!
This is the most fun I've had – for 37 days I was flying. It was like a nasha. Yeh alag nasha tha. Here I was not thinking about the lines, it was just coming out of me. But it affected my personal life quite a bit. I came back very quiet.
When the movie released, the first day was not good. Of course, for my dad it is all about the box office. He thinks when people like it they go to the theatre. But then it jumped by 60 per cent on the second day. When he heard I was doing the film, he said, "Is this an English film?" Even Akshay Kumar met my brother and said, "Is Varun doing an English film now?" Then he called me and said, "Why don't you do a film call November – sequel bahut chal rahe hai!" He was of course joking.
Stardom makes you egotistical, arrogant and safe. I didn't become egotistical and arrogant – that didn't happen to me. But I definitely got safe. As an actor I think I'm at my best when I'm struggling, when I'm doing something I don't know. As creative people, why limit our selves? Before anyone judges me I just want to say, "Wait."