Varun Dhawan in Kalank

He is called the ‘marketing genius’, is the undisputed holder of solid hits at the box office till date, and is perhaps one of the busiest Bollywood star in the industry today.

Varun Dhawan has been ruling since he graced our screens in 2012 with Student of the Year. No longer a Student Varun, is now set to prove his talent once again, starring alongside industry veterans such as Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt. Also joining him in what he considers his careers most ambitious film are Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditya Roy Kapur and Kunal Khemu. We caught up with Varun ahead of the release of Dharma Productions Kalank. Here’s what he had to say.

Fatima Patel: You have had a great career so far with a 100% record at the box office and awards to add to that do you ever look back and think about how far you’ve come?

Varun: I started my journey as an assistant director to Karan Johar on “My Name Is Khan” in 2010.The time spent on the sets practically changed my life. So my journey to be where I am today started way before my debut film Student of the Year. I am very grateful to the audience and everyone else who made it possible, so if I have come this far it’s because there were so many people in the film industry who showed me the right path.

Kalank looks to be one of your biggest films so far, with such an ensemble cast and heavy weights like Madhuri and Sanjay Dutt in the film, adding to that your & Alia’s successful run at the box office, do you get nervous or excited as the film is nearing release?  

I feel so blessed to be working with the team of Kalank. My character Zafar
in Kalank was a challenging one. The entire team has put in a lot of hard work into making this movie. I hope the audiences will like the way each character has been portrayed in the film.  Yes, I do feel nervous near the release date of all my movies. I feel at ease only after I read the review of the film and how the audiences have perceived the film. While I always feel nervous, Alia is the calmer one.

Your growth as an actor is so very evident from the trailer of this film and of course we have heard a lot about the blood and tears you endured for the bull fighting scene, what motivates you to go that extra mile? Do you find you work harder when there is such an ensemble star cast working with you?

Being surrounded by people, who want to bring out the best in me, motivates me to go that extra mile.  When working on your own, you only have a single perspective over things but when you are working with such talented individuals, it did encourage me to work even harder. I felt like it was a workshop on set, I was learning so much just watching them perform, their dialogue delivery, the way they react to each line is a skill. I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work with such experienced actors, I have grown up watching their movies and have been on set when they were shooting films with my father and I used to be mesmerised watching them so it felt surreal acting opposite Madhuri Ma’am and Sanjay Sir. We had a great experience together on set which was full of fun and filled with laughter.

Your character Zafar, has an uncanny resemblance to Shahrukh Khan’s character in Raees. It’s rumoured that Shahrukh was originally supposed to be in this film, when it was first conceptualised, do you think you’ve taken to some of the mannerisms of Shahrukh Khan to play Zafar, even if subconsciously?

Well Zafar’s character has some resemblance to Shahrukh sir’s character in Raees when one compares the look of both the characters; the eye liner, ear ring and the long hair portray the similarity. The characters are completely different, and I would always talk to Abhisekh about Zafar’s character and try to understand the struggle that the character Zafar was going through in his childhood. So, I have tried to portray the character as per the script. Although I did speak to Shahrukh sir after the teaser launch, I wanted to know what he thought of my character in the teaser. He said that it’s good to see that you are working hard and that these are the roles that get you closer to the audiences.

You have a great comfort level with Alia, as you have done maximum films with her and that’s very evident during the film promotions. Who else did you find to be the most easiest going or comfortable interacting with on the sets of Kalank?

Aditya Roy Kapur & Varun Dhawan

Aditya and I share great friendship; we were always goofing around on the sets of Kalank. Sonaskshi and I have been good friends and know each other since childhood, so there was a great amount of comfort with the both of them.

Would you say your character of Zafar in Kalank, is perhaps the most mature character you have played till date? The mannerisms, the look, the performance all show us a much more mature Varun Dhawan, what are your comments on that?

Zafar is the most challenging role of my career so far. I had to follow a rigorous training schedule to achieve the look of the character.

There was a scene that had to be shot in Kargil and the temperature was really low.  I had taken the shot bare-bodied, but I had to act like I wasn’t feeling cold, these were the minor challenges. The most difficult part was to connect with character as I hadn’t   played such a character that had an air of arrogance. The character of Zafar flirts with life and danger and has an intense look throughout the movie.

It’s been a hell of a journey playing the character of Zafar. I just hope that the audiences will like the character of Zafar when they watch the movie.

During your promotions, you seem to be having a lot of fun with the cast and crew, no doubt it must have been the same on set, if you were to recall your most fondest memory of working on Kalank what would it be?

Madhuri Dixit, Varun & Sanjay Dutt

I had a great time shooting on the sets of Kalank. The best memory was shooting alongside Madhuri Ma’am. We had such long scenes together in the film and I have never shot such a long scene with anyone, so while shooting I would forget that I was acting beside Madhuri Ma’am and Abhisekh would come and tell me that you are shooting with Madhuri Ma’am so don’t forget your lines. If I didn’t feel confident about a particular dialogue, Madhuri Ma’am would tell me to try it in a different way. She was a great support throughout.