Varun Dhawan: A decade of stardom

Varun Dhawan and Anil Kapoor play son and father in Jugjugg Jeeyo. Photo: Hype PR

He’s thankfully not been affected by the fate of his last few films, as all his movies since 2018 have faced rough weather at the all-important box-office—October, Sui Dhaaga—Made in India, Kalank, Street Dancer 3-D and his sole OTT release, Coolie No. 1.

Ever grounded and affable, Varun Dhawan remains a much-loved actor, who is remembered instead for his last two hits in 2017, Judwaa 2 and Badrinath Ki Dulhania, as well as for his earlier hits in Student of the Year (2012), Main Tera Hero, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and ABCD 2, besides his brother Rohit Dhawan’s Dishoom and Shah Rukh Khan’s home production, Dilwale.

His crowning glory as an actor remains his terrific turn in Badlapur as the distraught vindictive machine who makes life miserable for the man who accidentally destroyed his family.

Varun in his normal, affectionate self when we meet up for his newest release, Jugjugg Jeeyo, his fifth film with mentor Karan Johar as producer. We begin our chat on that note. Excerpts from an interview follow.

What are your expectations from this latest film with Karan Johar?

Obviously they are high! I am happy with it and I can gauge from Karan’s reaction what he expects from a movie. He has predicted that its Sunday will be very big. Like probably every actor, I want to see a packed auditorium, people enjoying the film and great messages being sent to me.

What drew you to the story?

I have grown up on films revolving around families like Hum Saath Saath Hain, Hum Aapke Hain Koun!…, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…, and these kind of films attract me. But there has to be a new subject within that genre for me to accept the film. I liked the idea that my character has come to confide in his dad that he wants to divorce his wife, only to find that his father too wants to divorce his mother. I thought the idea is great for situational comedy.

In every scene, my character had to look very vulnerable, as the man at the other end is my father and not a friend, so I can’t go beyond a certain level, and so there is comedy even in my frustration. My best friend is played by Maniesh Paul, who is my wife Kiara (Advani)’s brother, but he is more on my side, and even speaks on my behalf to my father. But he too does not know that I want to divorce his sister!

I am generally shown as a boy becoming a man! You know how someone of that age must now take up responsibilities—like for marrying his sister, and he is also stressed about his parents!

How tough was it doing the role, which has emotions too besides humor?

Emotions are very important, and as an actor, I love drama too. But comedy is more difficult. The film has lots of humor, but when the emotions hit, the audience will get a message too. Among all of us, Prajakta Koli is hugely talented, and her humor has a different target group, her comic timing is different, not filmi.

The film is clearly family-oriented, but divorce too comes in. Indians do not care for divorce even today.

Yes, everyone likes a family together, even if they fight among themselves. Your family is always there, and so it is taken for granted. You go back home to parents, or to a wife and kids. We tend to take some of the most important things in life for granted. And speaking of divorce, I think that friendship must be the base for any marriage. A couple must know each other very well, know all things that can possibly cause trouble later, and must know each other’s secrets that can rock the boat. Of course, we still learn things about each other as we go along.

How well did you know your wife Natasha before you married her?

We knew each other for more than 20 years!

Could you share your experiences with Neetu Singh, who is making a comeback with this film?

Neetu ma’am always gave the impression that she was so nervous without Rishi-sir, who was, of course, a part of my first film, Student of the Year, but I never really believed that! Because once the camera rolled, she took to acting like a fish to water! She has this incredible scene with Kiara that will make us know how good she is! She would also tell us so many stories about Rishi-sir.

In fact, we all—Anil Kapoor-sir, Kiara, Maniesh, Prajakta and me and the team—had great fun making the film!

It’s been 10 years since you started out. How do you look back at your career?

We are very blessed, as we get so much love from audiences that watch us leading a film, so we have to give our best. And our personal growth and happiness will always reflect in our work. I now give more time to films, like Amar Kaushik’s Bhediya was mainly shot in the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh, with its VFX done in London, Los Angeles and Hyderabad. And Nitesh Tiwari’s Bawaal has to be shot in Mumbai, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Normandy and Paris. It’s always been a great time to be an actor.








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