Sidharth Malhotra made his debut with Karan Johar’s “Student Of The Year” in 2012 and has never quite managed to shake off the tag of being Johar’s protégé with a boy-next-door image. But the actor says he is trying to become his own man by trying different roles and discovering his style and craft.
His next film, “A Gentleman”, is an action-comedy where he plays a man who is mistaken for a criminal. Malhotra spoke to Reuters about the film and why he doesn’t take success or failure too seriously.
Q: How would you describe “A Gentleman”?
A: It’s a new-age action-comedy that has everything in a film that I would want to watch. It has action, comedy and a new take on the double role. It’s definitely light-hearted, not something that you’ll be stressed about and it won’t make you think.
Q: The directors’ (Raj and Krishna DK) last film (Happy Ending) didn’t do well at the box office and nor did yours. Were there apprehensions about doing a film with them?
A: Not at all. I signed this during “Kapoor and Sons”. I didn’t judge them by their previous successes or failures. I had seen “Go Goa Gone” and “99” and liked both of them. I knew what they were capable of. Not everyone can have an A-grade slate like Mr Raju Hirani. We only have one of him. Everybody else has experienced some ups and downs. I liked the script, plus I hadn’t done this genre of film before. You cannot judge someone by their past work. It is just not fair.
Q: But coming off failure is more difficult than coming off success, right?
A: I have come to realise, with whatever little experience I have, is that none of them last that long. I cannot live off my success for too much time. I cannot keep saying “Ek Villain” was a 100-crore film, because it is in the past. It’s all about what you are doing this year and this film. You ask any actor who has given a hit film – it is equally scary to come off success because there is so much pressure. The game in this industry is more mental. I am actually enjoying this phase of my career so much more. Like this film, then Neeraj Pandey’s “Aiyaary” and “Ittefaq” – they are all such distinctly different films and I am learning so much about my style, my craft, my body.
Q: You are part of the next generation of actors after the Khans, all of whom enjoy a huge fan following. Do you think you are catching up with them?
A: I think it (the process) is at the beginning, even by doing stories that they cannot do now because of their age. They are doing more interesting stuff because of their age. It is a matter of two or three more years. It hasn’t fully happened because they are still hugely popular and command a big fan following. But it is the most natural progression and it will happen.
Q: Do you think you are getting the kind of roles you want? Are the right types of roles being written?
A: We definitely have a dearth of writers. Right now, all the good writers are directors – they are only writing for themselves. Raju Hirani, Karan Johar, Imtiaz Ali… Where are the writers who write stuff for other directors? That has to increase. I won’t say we aren’t getting the roles, because I have tried to keep it different in each film. But the audience is also becoming unpredictable. They might like a small film… or they might diss a humongous film with a big star. We are competing with international content, with TV series, with movies. I think you just have to follow your instinct and go with it.
Q: Given that the competition is coming from everywhere, do you find yourself looking over your shoulder every time?
A: No. I don’t think it is productive energy. I can make my film to the best of my abilities and that’s all you can really control. Why complicate your life unnecessarily? Yes, for sure, you watch a lot of series and movies from outside. But again, a majority of India doesn’t watch that. A majority of India doesn’t watch Netflix. They watch TV. Many times we are competing with what comes on TV and not any of these new platforms.