Bollywood’s young heartthrob Varun Dhawan speaks to Sunny Malik about his second film, Main Tera Hero, directed by his father and well-known filmmaker David Dhawan.
Main Tera Hero releases in UK cinemas on 4th April 2014 through Eros International.
You made a successful acting debut with Student Of The Year and were praised for your acting skills by critics and audiences. Do you feel the pressure now that your second film is releasing?
I think, comedy as a genre is one of the most difficult genres to crack for an actor. Having said that, for a lead actor, you need to be romantic, intense and be a hero and on top of that, you need to be goofy and funny too. Sometimes you need to pull off a British kind of humour with straight face. That’s what I needed to do in Main Tera Hero and I have tried it. That is very difficult for an actor. There are many great actors who play heroes but they can’t crack the comedy genre. Some pull it off really well like Salman Khan. Shah Rukh Khan in Chennai Express is a great example of a hero doing comedy. Critics who believe that comedy is not hard work are mistaken. Indian critics might applaud a Ben Stiller or Steve Martin for what they do but just because we do it in our country, they feel that it’s not hard work.
How did you decide on doing Main Tera Hero as your second film?
I was actually supposed to do Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania after Student Of The Year. There was also a film directed by Sriram (Agent Vinod) which I could have started before. I think, once the script of Main Tera Hero was ready and the idea was pitched to me, I was sold. For me, being a part of Main Tera Hero is an emotional decision. I just wanted the opportunity to work with my father and I wanted to do a comedy film desperately. I could not have asked for a better director as I believe that he is one of the best we have in India.
You experienced stardom while promoting SOTY as you travelled internationally and across India for promotions and met screaming fans. But soon after, personal photos from you University days at Nottingham were leaked online. How did you deal with that?
Honestly, when I first saw the photos I was taken aback slightly. I thought that I don’t know how people will react to this. I think by the next day I realised that all this is coming out about me because people are interested. There is no other reason why these photos went viral or why my personal life is being written about. I try to protect my personal life as much as I can because of the people that are in it. I don’t ever want them to feel uncomfortable. I spoke to a couple of my friends who live in England and featured in the pictures. They had a good laugh about it. I think its fine because it’s all part of me as a person and I can’t change that. I have also realised that I want to build a relationship with my audience. They need to know me in order to like me.
How was your student life in Nottingham?
It was amazing. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I met people from all over the UK. They didn’t care who I am and where I came from. They found it quite funny when they found out that my father is a director. They accepted me for the person who I am and I think, they really understood my humour too. I am grateful to have made friends who live in England and I am still in touch with them.
You have shot some intimate scenes for the film. Was it awkward to be directed by your father for such scenes?
When you are an actor, you have to realise that it’s all part and parcel of the profession. Many of the scenes you see of Nargis and I getting intimate were actually shot by the director of choreography, Bosco. My Dad was not on the set for those scenes (laughs). Besides that, even the first on-screen kiss in the film is important because of the story and screenplay. My father is really disciplined, professional and punctual. He was actually quite strict with me while directing the film. I was shouted at quite a lot, sometimes for correct reasons and sometimes for wrong reasons (laughs). However, all that gave birth to a lot of creativity. All the humour that you see in the film, is really worked hard on.
Your co-star Nargis Fakhri told us that she connected with you more than her previous co-stars because you studied abroad and understand her better. Do you agree?
I don’t have too many friends in Bollywood. I don’t really hang out with actors and actresses here. Most of the friends I have, are from before I became an actor. Nargis and I just clicked. I totally understand how she is as a person and she understands me as well. On that front, Nargis and I really got on like a house on fire. I am always going to have her back because I am extremely fond of her.
The first-look teaser featured you holding a newspaper that read “Mafia Don kidnaps girl”. That is very different from the all-out comedy trailer.
That first-look was purposely designed in a way to deceive audiences. When you hear the name ‘hero’, you think about a guy bashing up fifty men and standing up for a girl or a cause. We purposely did that to make people think it’s that kind of a film. But soon afterwards, we released another look of me standing in a quirky pose wearing headphones which gave audiences an idea that it’s a comedy film. One of the new posters that are out feature me hanging off a light pole. I was scared for my life while shooting for it and you can see it (laughs). We tried to twist it around as we are portraying that a hero doesn’t always need to be macho and someone who beats up guys.
The title seems to be inspired from the song in Desi Boyz, which was directed by your brother…
My father also had a song in a film starring Govinda called ‘Main Tera Hero Number One’. But my brother, Rohit, did suggest the title too. Since Rohit has done a song with it and my father too, we felt that it was a common factor and it suits my character Seenu quite a lot. He is the most unlikely and weird hero. He always gets into trouble for doing things in situations that he is not supposed to be in. The title will make sense when people watch the film.
The music has become popular already. I personally like ‘Galat Baat Hai’…
Honestly, I never thought that people will like Galat Baat Hai. However, since the soundtrack has released, a lot of people have been telling me that they love the song. It’s also the most fun song that filmed in Main Tera Hero. It’s the bikini and sun song in the film. The girls look absolutely gorgeous and we filmed quite a lot around the pool. I had a lot of fun shooting it (laughs).
During SOTY promotions, Karan Johar said that you love to show off your body. Did you have to work out extensively for the shirtless scenes in Main Tera Hero?
To be honest, I am not really into showing off my body. Mumbai is just a really hot place. It’s genuinely a very hot city and I don’t know why people don’t feel as warm as I do here. I can’t be clothed all the time. It’s all simple as that. I did have to train extra hard for Galaat Baat Hai. I undertook a two-week program before we filmed the song.
Parineeti Chopra told me that she rejected three films opposite you…
I don’t think she could have featured in any of the films I was doing even before Main Tera Hero. My film with Sriram does not require a girl of her age and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania was always going to be with Alia and me. It’s produced by Dharma Productions and it was either going to be someone new or Alia Bhatt as the director wanted her as well. I don’t think the makers of my next ABCD 2 thought of her for the film. I did read about it though. I think she was offered the films before I was offered them as I never got those offers. I have done six advertisements with her for WeChat. I think, people will like to see us together but right now I don’t have time to work with anyone.
How do you think Main Tera Hero will fare at the UK Box Office?
Since I have lived in the UK for some time, I have seen how UK audiences react to Hindi movies. I really believe that it will connect with UK audiences as it showcases a lot of India. It has a lot of Indian sentiments which UK audiences tend to enjoy. It has a lot of Punjabi humour as well and I think, the Punjabis in the UK will enjoy that aspect of the film. The songs might also work better in the UK than anywhere else internationally. I can’t give you a figure but I just hope to receive a lot of love from UK audiences. They have loved David Dhawan films in the past and I hope they enjoy Main Tera Hero too.