Sidharth Malhotra is the newest Bollywood heartthrob on the scene. The 33-year-old actor made his debut in 2012 with Karan Johar’s ‘Student Of The Year‘ and has built up quite a fan following through his performances with UK hits such as Kapoor & Sons and Brothers.
Hailing from an Indian Armed Forces family, Sidharth entered the film industry after working as a junior assistant director on the award-winning My Name Is Khan. He caught director Karan Johar’s eye, who then decided to launch Sidharth along with Varun Dhawan, son of director David Dhawan, and Alia Bhatt, daughter of renowned producer Mahesh Bhatt in Student Of The Year. The three actors shot to stardom in India even before their highly-anticipated debut film released.
Malhotra has since starred in hits such as Ek Villain, Ittefaq and A Gentleman. He is gearing up for his newest release, Aiyaary, also starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rakul Preet.
Speaking to BollyNewsUK, the actor discusses his new movie and filming in the British capital…
You must be very excited starting the new year with Aiyaary…
Yes, every Friday brings in new excitement. The script and content of Aiyaary is very powerful and director Neeraj Pandey always showcases intelligent content in his films. Audiences will understand the reason why we’ve made the film, as it’s very relevant now. It’s a packaged spy thriller, which I’ve never done before, so it’s something new for the audience.
The title of Aiyaary is unusal. Was that intentional to make the film mysterious?
I believe that Neeraj Pandey has a knack for finding these words when it comes to naming his films. It was also very apt for the characters as we are playing intelligence agents in the film. Aiyaary means the art of trickery, and these guys definitely have that skill. It’s also a very intriguing title, which helps us.
Neeraj Pandey films usually share critical acclaim and box office success. Are you worried about the trend of 2017 where most movies didn’t perform well though?
No, I don’t worry about that. Every film has its own audience at the end of the day. When you sign up to do a film, you know the extent of the business it is likely to make. This is a thriller first of all, which doesn’t have the trappings of a commercial love story. It has a good subject which is relevant to the country and its youth. Also, looking at Neeraj Pandey’s track record, he has never had a film under-performing at the box office. Its more relaxing because of his past track record.
You disappeared from social media with the hashtag #SidsOffTheGrid leading up to first promotions of Aiyaary. What was that about?
(Laughs) We were just preparing audiences for what is going to happen when Aiyaary releases, as my character in the film goes off the grid. In my head, I wanted to see if people will miss me online. I was very happy to see that people were concerned, including you who messaged and called. It was very nice actually. I was back in two days, it was a fun activity.
Your last film Ittefaq was only promoted on social and digital media. However, some film studios are going back to the traditional marketing style. What do you feel works best?
The trend has really changed. It has more become about what happens on the Friday of release. Audiences want to know what the reports are, what their friends and family thought of the film, as it is an expensive experience to go to the cinema. The taxes aren’t helping either. I believe more than marketing or public relations, it has become all about what the first day is like. Social Media has a massive reach. You can disseminate authentic information from your official accounts. There is no middle man and hence, misunderstandings are avoided. I feel, in a country like India, social media is still a new phenomenon and doesn’t have the same numbers as the US or UK. We must cater to the traditional formats of information as well. Audiences are shifting from TV and newspapers to online, albeit slowly. Although, Facebook has a great reach in India, which is great. Twitter and Instagram are fairly new, and you can’t only depend on these medium to create awareness.
Was it distracting for you as an actor to shoot at popular tourist attractions such as Leicester Square in London?
We were filming on Oxford Street and London is always beaming with people. We were filming at 17:00, during high rush hour time. We didn’t want to lock down the area for the shoot as it was supposed to look authentic. That was a bit of an issue.
I was wearing a hood and was sweaty, as it was supposed to portray the middle of an action sequence. I was coming out of the Underground station and a steady cam was filming me walking out. During almost all of the takes, someone passing by would react to me being there. It took a lot of retakes and was a tricky situation as to whether we should announce that we are filming or just keep going as we were. We continued filming Guerrilla style and some of the fans were sweet enough to not stare into the camera during takes. It was interesting to shoot at an actual location with people around you not knowing about it.
Since the film was moved forward, do you believe the extra time you have to promote the film is a positive to take out of the situation?
We were always prepared to create good awareness for the film but, yes it does give us a bigger window now. We have been to Chandigarh, Amritsar and the Wagah border. It’s interesting as no one has spent so much time with the Armed Forces before for a film. It’s great to give them memories and I’m enjoying spending time with them.
Reliance Entertainment releases Aiyaary in UK cinemas on 16th February 2017.