The first look of Sriram Raghavan’s Badlapur set the internet abuzz last week as Varun Dhawan, the poster boy of romcom, slipped into an almost unrecognisable avatar.
The actor reveals that many of his peers warned him against doing the thriller, some even said, “You’ll be over”. While others prophesied that the film would alienate one of his biggest fan bases – children.
“But today children are exposed to everything thanks to television and the internet. The only thing that prevents them from watching stuff they are not meant to, is themselves. Only self-censoring works,” says Varun.
Badlapur was the second film he signed, right after Student of the Year. He recalls that he was terrified by the story Sriram told him, yet instantly agreed to do it. The only question he asked the director was, “Why me?” Sriram retorted, “Because you have innocent eyes, something my character needs.”
What gave him the confidence to go ahead with the gamble, given everyone’s vocal apprehensions, were words of wisdom from Aamir Khan. “The best decisions, as far as films are concerned, are taken with the heart,” Aamir had once told him. The words remained with Varun and gave him the impetus to take a drastic pay cut for the project.
Badlapur is based on a real-life incident that took place nearly 25 years ago, and had a devastating effect on a family.”I can’t go into the specifics, but my character in the revenge drama is a guy working in an ad agency who starts a family. You will see me as a father on the screen for the first time,” he reveals adding that he will age from an 18-year old boy to a 40-year-old man in the film.
The film took him away from the mustard fields and coffee shops to a morgue, a prison which housed serial-killers, and an ICU which wasn’t a film set.
“It drained me. I had slipped into depression as after a point it no longer felt like I was acting in a film. The experience was that terrifying. Sriram really made me suffer. Even when the camera was off, he was shooting me. It was a reality check of a different kind because till then I had been leading a rather insulated life, both in real life and reel,” Varun admits.
The friends he hung out with, on Saturday nights at fancy clubs, were in for a rude shock. The film had made Varun quiet and angry and he was in no mood to party. “I lost a few friends as I was looking at life from the perspective of a wronged man,” says Varun.
In this unsettled state, Nawazuddin Siddiqui was the one he bonded with.”The first time we met, I told him about my favourite scene from Gangs of Waasseypur and that broke the ice. He’s such a cool guy. We spoke about his wife, daughter and village. We discussed movies and acting.”
Talking about his performance, he reveals that he sought inspiration from shows like Breaking Bad and Dexter. “I showed a clip from Dexter to Sriram and we recreated the kick-ass scene,” he recalls. Remo D’Souza’s ABCD 2, which was being shot simultaneously, was like a rehab.
“A little bit of song-and dance is nice after filming with dead bodies,” the actor laughs.
Isn’t he also doing the Hindi remake of The Fault in Our Stars with Deepika Padukone, which Homi Adajania is directing? “I haven’t signed anything other than my brother, Rohit’s film Dhishoom. It’s an action entertainer with John Abraham who’s a family friend and Jacqueline (Fernandez). It has a strong patriotic theme,” he informs.
Away from the camera, he’s been spotted in the company of several pretty women. This draws a chuckle, “Whenever I hang out with girls, the pictures are out instantly. That’s not the case when I go t with my guy friends or when I take my dog for a stroll. Now I will only talk about the girl in my life when I’m getting married. And that’s not happening anytime soon,” he signs off.