Varun Dhawan is one of most commercially viable actors from the current generation in Bollywood and is often seen swinging between the typically commercial cinema to the parallel one that makes him stand out as an actor. One such experimental film for him is the Shoojit Sircar directorial ‘October’, which is very unlike a Varun Dhawan film. The actor and director duo collaborate for the first time to give the audiences an emotionally driven and cinematically beautiful film. The super cool Varun Dhawan come to the ground as he plays Dan, a hotel management trainee, who discovers selfless love.
Cinespeaks interacted with the ‘Man Of The Moment’ who is stealing hearts with his innocence and powerful performance with ‘October’ and here’s all that he had to say:
Q. How was it being directed by Shoojit Sircar?
Varun Dhawan: When you work with him (Shoojit Sircar), you forget that you’re a Star. He gives so much love and not just me but even his light technicians, cameraman or my staff. He talks to them very sweetly and always has a smile on his face. He whispers his instructions and never raises his voice. I had to bring down the pitch of my voice too. I was really calm and only focused on ‘kaam’.
Q. The title has a tag line that says this film is not a love story but a story about love. Is there an incident from real life that you recalled while shooting for ‘October’?
Varun Dhawan: There were a lot of incidents which I could recall. Lot of elements from my real life or any of those incidents that must have happened in your lives at any point, you’ll identify with it and such little things, which you may not give importance to at that time but make you a human being that you are, is what you recall. It also has to do a lot with time. How much time are we willing to give each other. Today it’s all about a text message or a WhatsApp message or even sending an emoticon. But to meet someone and spend time with them, if you have a sick grandmother, actually spending 3 hours with them it has all reduced in our lives. That’s why my character Dan doesn’t use a phone through out the film. There were scenes where his friends tell him why didn’t you call us and inform us of a certain thing. To which he replies saying I would have if I had a mobile phone. He doesn’t like phones and I kind of endorse that fact. That character is very unlike me but I believe in his beliefs.
Q. You’ve done an array of unique films be it ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’ then ‘Badlapur’ and now ‘Judwaa 2’ and then ‘October’. Is this a strategy?
Varun Dhawan: This basically is a requirement for an actor. It’s not to show anyone but it’s your hunger as an actor. But it has to communicate through you easily and you must struggle within to get it right, that’s where the fun lies. Creative satisfaction is a necessity especially when you’re an artist. I’m not in a 9 to 6 job where I get money and then an increment. An actor is not money minded, if I were that way then I would have been a producer. After doing a couple of films like ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ or ‘Judwaa 2’ when I was asked to smile and crack a joke on camera, I wasn’t able to do it.
Q. What is your criteria as an actor? What kind of genres are you willing to explore?
Varun Dhawan: Honestly, when I was not an actor, people didn’t know what I was thinking or going through including my father. My idea was if I had to become an actor, I would also want to know a TV channel where I wanted to TV show of my own. I wanted to interview directors, almost like a late night show like Shekhar Suman used to do. Then I thought why would I want to do that. Somewhere down the line I was quite inspired by interacting with those people. After being an actor I was working with a comedian, then I was working with someone who was a villain, or an actor who had something else unique to himself. Then I realized it wasn’t what they were doing that made me interested in their work but it was their work that I wanted to do. I wanted to play a hero, be a villain, I wanted to do drama and I wanted to do everything. Cinema has become huge today. There are different aspects to even the genre of comedy. I’ve done a comedy with my father David Dhawan and also did two with Shashank Khaitan, their comedy varies from one another. Similarly Shoojit Sircar has his own style of humor in ‘October’. You’ll tend to laugh at it. I think like a studio I believe, if I had to make a certain number of films, then what type of films would I want them to be!
Q. Shoojit says he was looking for a new face but saw the character in you. When you met him for the first time, were you aware of this fact?
Varun Dhawan: My approach to meet him was that of a new actor. He even shared a photo of mine where I was wearing ripped jeans and a very casual t-shirt with my messy hair. I looked worse than what any struggling actor would go in for an audition. He had briefed me that he would leave for somewhere else if I would take longer so I went as I was. Shoojit Sircar didn’t have an image of me. It wasn’t like he had watched a ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania‘ and approached me because he liked what I was doing in that film. And that’s the beauty of it.
Q. Do you tend to message filmmakers when you see their film and desire to be a part of their next?
Varun Dhawan: It’s not like I’m Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan or Salman Khan who are still on going and I’m not a Superstar. But I’m a star yes, let me admit that. I always do that since my second film. Every actor does message a filmmaker requesting them to cast them in their upcoming project and consider them for a part. I’ve always seen my father getting a message from actors. It feels good for a director too because it gives a sense of faith an actor puts in that filmmaker. Showing wrong attitude towards a director is not a good thing anyways. Director is the boss on set.
Q. Do box office numbers matter to you?
Varun Dhawan: Box office doesn’t matter to me. This film is a very interesting and new thing for me. We didn’t want to promote the film. I said Dada (Shoojit Sircar) let’s do a promotion for the film much later. I was in a of stress. Dada told me why are you getting worried, you haven’t put money into this film. He then told me an amazing thing, you’re an actor and should always worry if your act is right. He also said I’m a director and we’ve made a film. It’s not upon us to sell the film. And if the film is good it becomes salable anyways. If we preach about our film too much, how will the creativity be identified. There should be a belief in what we make.
Q. You’re seen doing a lot of daily chores by playing a hotel management trainee in the film. Did you specially have to learn the art of doing these jobs or you have its basics which had to be polished?
Varun Dhawan: When I was little I used to make my bed very badly and used to not fold my clothes properly. My mom would look at my untidy work and re-do things by herself. I wouldn’t say I always had a silver spoon though. I’m the youngest at home but as I was growing up, I was born and brought up in a 2 bedroom hall home. It was a small house on Carter’s Road. I spent 15 years of my life there. Although my father’s career had taken off, he didn’t start spending lavishly. I have seen his growth. I used to travel to school by an auto rickshaw or the school bus. Actually I used to enjoy my rickshaw rides and I remember it used to cost us Rs. 8.50 but we used to give Rs. 10, especially crossing Juhu beach and letting that air pass through you. I always used to be sleepy on the way back and forth. He (Shoojit Sircar) wanted that innocence back. That was lost because once you become an actor, you start travelling only in cars and you start getting used to luxury.
Q. How do you operate in real life? You listen to your mind or your heart?
Varun Dhawan: There are two things, one is your mind and other is your soul. When you listen to your mind, your reactions are always calculative. But when you listen to your heart, you tend to open up your true emotions.
Q. Director Shoojit Sircar and writer Juhi Chaturvedi seem to have an unbreakable bond. What do you have to say about them?
Varun Dhawan: For the first time in my career, I have witnessed such a unique relationship between the writer and the director. Juhi Chaturvedi was involved with every shot, everyday and throughout. She’s written the film very beautifully and helped me a lot to understand my character. Dan is from Delhi and so are Dada (Shoojit Sircar) and Juhi (Chaturvedi). I feel like I needed her till the end to understand the sensibility of my character. I used to sit with her after every shot.
Q. Do you see a reflection of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s films in Shoojit Sircar’s movies?
Varun Dhawan: My dad (David Dhawan) says that. ‘Anand‘ is our favourite film and he (Shoojit Sircar) feels shy with such comparisons but I can definitely say that he’s one of best minds and hearts that we have in the industry today. What makes him great is his prowess, I have seen Hrishi Da‘s films and I’m a big fan. All I can say is that this guy (Shoojit Sircar) is special. He needs to be given more power and let him make his cinema.
Q. Did you get an insight on the lives of the employees at a hotel through your experience filming ‘October’?
Varun Dhawan: I used to wonder how do they stand on their feet always. It’s incredible. I play a trainee in the film. I don’t feel bad for the seniors who are there but I love spotting the juniors at these hotels. I question them to ensure if they’re trainees. It’s different in different hotels. Big hotels pay the trainees more but the hotel that we were in trainees weren’t paid well.
Q. Any funny incident you recall while playing this role?
Varun Dhawan: There’s so much bending that you do, I always used to fear my pant being torn apart. Especially if you’re serving at a ball room full of guests it could get really embarrassing. There’s their own set of jokes and banter, there’s ragging, there’s politics but it’s a lot of fun.
Q. What kind of reaction have you gotten after the trailer launch?
Varun Dhawan: The people who used to watch my previous films and not really like them, they all came out to appreciate me and say they’re getting to see a different side of me and want to watch the film. My friend who watch Netflix and that kind of content told me they would want to watch the film because it looks so interesting. The moral of the story is what attracted me to do this film.
Q. At the trailer launch you said you had a hunger within to work with Shoojit Sircar, has that hunger been satisfied?
Varun Dhawan: No, that hunger has not been satisfied. It’s still there within me. I have only worked with one side of his. There’s this other part that has made a film like ‘PINK’, he’s made a ‘Madras Cafe’ and he’s also made a ‘Vicky Donor’, so I feel like he hasn’t shown himself completely to me and neither have I. I hope we can come back together.
Q. Do you think ‘October’ will be able to connect with the youth?
Varun Dhawan: I have done this film only for the youngsters. After ‘Student Of The Year’ I think this is the most young character that I’m playing. I’m playing a 21 or 22 years old character. In order to look younger, I got on a special diet and stopped working out. I used to have sugarcane juice every morning and cutoff on any other sugar. The energy and glow that you get is something else. So I had to reverse my look. I worked a lot on it.
Q. What is the connection of the month to the title of the film?
Varun Dhawan: The Shuili flower blossoms in the month of October, we started shooting the film in October, I was offered the film in the month of October, these are coincidences and there are other reasons too.
Q. Stardom comes with a price. And what’s the price that you’ve paid?
Varun Dhawan: Time! I get less time to spend for people and by that I mean my parents. I feel like whenever my mom calls me out, I keep delaying to attend her by saying ‘in a minute’. I’ve seen her not liking this fact.
Q. As an actor, is there something that you still want to do better?
Varun Dhawan: I feel like my voice is something that can get better. I’ve been told this by directors and sometimes I hear myself and make this judgement. When I hear Mr. (Amitabh) Bachchan or Irrfan Khan, I feel like I can give it more depth. I don’t know if it’ll come with age but I want to work on it.
Q. Your father and your brother are filmmakers. Were there any kind of discussions about your role in this film?
Varun Dhawan: I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my family over ‘October’ and they’re really interesting. First time in many years, my Chacha (Anil Dhawan) is very excited about the film. Rumi (Jaffrey) uncle who is very close to our family, he’s very excited about the film. It’s been discussed by our close ones. They wonder how I’ve gone to do such a film. My brother (Rohit Dhawan) is really looking forward to this project.
Q. What makes you want to keep going as an actor?
Varun Dhawan: It’s the people, honestly. I performed at the IPL opening ceremony recently and haven’t danced in ‘October’ and nor do I do that in ‘Sui Dhaga’. I really wanted to dance and dancing live at Wankhede, I also did a fusion with Prabhudeva Sir so it was electrifying to see the crowd go excited. They have to be delivered something new always especially in this internet generation when they can go rewatch your work.
Q. What do you have to say about the music of ‘October’?
Varun Dhawan: The entire performance is very different. The pitch and the tone is very different. The background score by Shantanu Moitra is quite different. It catches you to brings you into the film. It’s a cinematic experience.
Q. The film claims to be a story about Love. After doing this film, do you see that emotion differently now?
Varun Dhawan: My emotion has changed 360 degrees and I hope it happens to everyone. It’s gone back to what it should be then what it is today. The meaning of love has changed with technology. It’s such an abused word today. I love this and I love that is what we say today. It’s more than that. The word love has to be associated with special things. I use the word like.
Q. Is Varun Dhawan in Love?
Varun Dhawan: Varun is always in love.
Q. Is this film being targeted to the multiplex audiences? What’s your win as an actor from the roles you do?
Varun Dhawan: Going down to my B & C has always been about conviction as an actor. How much I’m making them believe when I play those roles, if they feel this character is someone among ourselves then that’s an achievement. My father (David Dhawan) called me after watching the trailer 7 times.
Q. ‘October’ is more of a parallel cinema, but you’ve been appreciated for your commercial cinema. What’s your take on the commercial cinema?
Varun Dhawan: Commercial cinema comes with commercial directors only. There’s a director who makes the story entertaining. An actor can just act in it. There are few commercial directors out there. ‘Judwaa 2’ can only happen with a David Dhawan, I’m lucky to have a Shashank Khaitan in life who’s quite commercial or have a Remo D’Souza with whom I’ll work again. There are few commercial producers too like Sajid Nadiadwala. They’ll only make stories that please them.
Q. What do you take back as an actor from ‘October’?
Varun Dhawan: I take back faith. Faith in the director, faith in content and the faith in the audiences.
Q. Is it difficult for an actoor to mould into a completely different genre after having established themselves in a specific one?
Varun Dhawan: Yes, it is. ‘October’ wasn’t an easy film to act in. It was a big challenge after seeing the film, I felt like yes I’ve done something good. People think I can do only certain kind of cinema and it happens. You have. To reinvent and push yourself with the work you do.
Q. Tiger Shroff had said that he wants to be recognized as an action hero. What do you want to be known as?
Varun Dhawan: I want to be known as an actor. I want to do everything. For example, Aamir Khan, he’s not stuck to a genre or certain kind of cinema, he can do anything. Even an Irrfan Khan, he’s done a ‘Life in a Metro’ and a ‘Jurassic Park’ as well. If I’m a good actor, I should be able to do comedy, even do an action film and be able to live different characters.
Q. What do you have to say about your co-star Banita Sandhu?
Varun Dhawan: Banita (Sandhu) is a sweet and cute girl. It’s her first film but she’s really composed and I hope she does more films.
Q. Are you scared of ghosts, especially the one that’ll come to compete with you in the form of ‘Mercury’ at the box office?
Varun Dhawan: For course I am. I’ve heard incidents about ghosts and they’re terrifying.
Q. Why should audiences go watch ‘October’?
Varun Dhawan: There are good films and bad films. ‘October’ shall be one of my best films.