Vibing With "Valia"
Without a doubt, Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan are one of the most-loved on-screen couples today. Their adorable chemistry on celluloid and an equally easy off-screen camaraderie have made them an instant hit amongst youngsters, so much so that they are popularly known as #Valia on the Internet. However, all this love and adulation comes with the weight of expectations. But our Badrinath and his Dulhania, unlike many other actors, are not one bit stressed by it; rather, they are embracing it. What's more, with their third film together – Badrinath Ki Dulhania – they aim to charm the older generation this time around.
Box Office India(BOI): What was it like to team up with each other yet again? Any new discoveries about each other?
Alia Bhatt (AB): It's always a pleasure to work with Varun. It's very comfortable, it's all those good things which you want in your co-actor. Varun believes in team effort and he loves encouraging everyone on the sets, not just me but even the DOP, the choreographer… everyone. He always wants to do better. And it's always nice when you are working in a film which has so much energy, so much joy, so much laughter, so much fun, emotions… everything is at its optimal level.
Varun Dhawan (VD): You know, it brings out the best in people when they feel it's their film or that they own the film. And, by this, I don't mean economical ownership, more an emotional right over the film. That's the way I like to do all my films, especially with Dharma, where I feel as if it is my banner, at the end of the day.
I feel as if it is mine, and that's exactly how Karan (Johar) treats us. While the film was being made, he left it up to Alia and me, and said, 'Go with your instincts. Tell me what you need and I will do it as a producer.' When someone has so much faith in you, it's a very big deal. He was the first person who believed in us, he was the first person who got us here. That's the most beautiful thing… to have someone believe in your talent, in your capabilities, when the world doesn't. Well , today the world adores you, especially youngsters who are crazy about Alia and Varun…
VD: Now the idea is to get even the older generation involved and that's why Badrinath Ki Dulhania.
BOI: Good enough, but people are expecting plenty from this one. Does that make you nervous?
AB: I think we were always aware of the pros and cons of doing Badrinath Ki Dulhania. It has its pros because people who loved Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania will want to watch it. So it has its pros. But the challenge for this film is that people will compare it with Humpty, and since we are aware of that, this one is not a continuation. It's a different kind of film. It's a different story, different emotions.
This film didn't even start off being Badrinath Ki Dulhania, it started as a film we wanted to make together and then we decided… I mean Karan and Shashank, they came up with the idea of making it into a franchise. And, again, it's India's first love franchise.
VD: It is India's first love franchise after Aashiqui 2. I keep telling this to Karan and joking about it.
AB: No, but Aashiqui 2 had the same story, Varun, only the ending was different.
VD: Oh yeah, they were both singers. I feel more than having high expectations, you know what's worse – having no expectations at all! The fact is you want expectations.
AB: No, I don't think that's worse.
VD: No, I feel that's worse. From the beginning of my career, I have always wanted it to be a very big deal that my film is releasing.
AB: Yeah, of course, you build up to that. When we started with Humpty, people didn't expect much and that helped.
VD: But we were trying to build our careers. As actors, we are always trying to build that, and now when we've reached this stage, we should not be afraid, we have to embrace it.
AB: Yeah, we are not scared, we are embracing it.We can't be afraid because it has to be a big deal. 'My film is releasing' should be a big deal. My film with her is releasing should be an even bigger deal. Obviously, we have decided to come together for something special. The audience will decide whether we are right or wrong but, honestly, we thought it was a very big deal, so we both signed this film.
BOI: What did director Sushant Khaitan unlock in you as actors this time around?
AB: A lot of emotions in Varun, for sure. I don't think Varun has cried as much as he did in Badrinath, in a good way. And I think I have become a more mature person after playing this character.
VD: Yes, I feel I have become more emotional.
AB: It has brought out an emotional side to Varun, and since I played ... not an older girl, but a strong-headed girl, it brought about a little more maturity in me.
VD: I have become more understanding, I was never this understanding before.
AB: Bang on, it has affected us.
VD: I am hoping it has the same effect on the audience, especially boys and men who will come to watch this film. I know everyone feels that commercial film hai, 'Tamma Tamma' hai, yeh hai, woh hai, Varun Dhawan hai, woh yeh hi karega...Well, I just hope people who watch the film take back that one thing for which I did the film.
BOI: Both of you started your journeys together with Student Of The Year. How would you say Alia and Varun have grown as actors over the years, given that Badrinath Ki Dulhania will be your third film together…
AB: I think during SOTY, we were still finding our feet.
VD: In Student Of The Year, we were no good.
AB: We were overdoing every scene, or I was underdoing, or he was overdoing, or vice versa. With Humpty Sharma, we were more enthusiastic because we wanted to get it right. So, again, there was this extra energy. I think, in this film, we have focused only on the characters because it was a different journey. With Humpty, we were still a little raw, which, of course, was good for the film.
VD: And good for the characters too.
AB: Yeah, because it was an easy story. This film is a little difficult. It's not an easy love story.
VD: Also, both of us have come together after so many films. She has her successes and I have my share of successes, and now we are doing a film together. So, I now look at her and think, 'Okay, she has done all this.' However, for this film, it was never Alia or Varun acting, it was always like, these are the characters, now let's see what we can do with them.We really lived the characters. If you throw a situation at us, even right now, we will become Badri and Vaidehi in an instant.
VD: You know, you do a film and still feel theek hai character pakda nahin pakda, but here I really know who Badri is and I really know
who Vaidehi is.
BOI: Creatively, how do you feed off each other?
VD: I think Alia wouldn't let me be dishonest with the character.
AB: How sweet.
VD: Because you reprimanded me quite a few times, when I tried. I can remember 5-6 instances, easily.
AB: Even you used to tell me.
VD: Yes, during the songs.
AB: I can give him lots of creative feedback and I can't do that with anybody else. I think both of us are very similar in that way, because we don't take offence at advice. If somebody tells us 'Do it a little like this…' obviously, someone who understands us and understands the characters of the film, we wouldn't be closed to the suggestion.
VD: I won't take suggestions from anyone besides Alia. I would be open to listening but I would be, like, 'Haan, theek hai, theek hai.' But when she says something, I take it very seriously. It plays on my mind.
BOI: Can you share some instances?
VD: There's one comedy scene in the film, where we were supposed to improvise, and I started improvising like Varun Dhawan, not like Badri. Alia instantly told me, 'Now you are not being like the character, you are being like someone else in the film and that's wrong. Just be yourself. You are in this situation and why are you changing it?' I ended up getting pissed with her but even Shashank said the same thing to me and I later realised that they were both right. So I think it's a great quality that she looks out for me.
BOI: Can you tell us about each other's strengths and weaknesses, as actors?
AB: I don't think we should ever, at least me… I don't want to talk about strengths and weaknesses because, honestly, what I love about acting is that it is a very unassuming profession and you don't slot it in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Like, we all know that is our zone. Varun knows that he is a fabulous dancer, he knows that he really has a handle on comedy, and I know that I prefer casual conversations. But the minute we start thinking about that, then that becomes our comfort zone and then we only want to be in that zone.
VD: The truth is, it is very difficult for me to think of her as an actor-actor… That's the truth.
BOI: Both of you are industry kids and were born into the film business. Do you discuss the film business with each other?
VD: No, she doesn't discuss it.
AB: And people who are not industry kids also have the same conversations.
VD: Today, information is so easily available, it is no longer the preserve of industry kids or people. Everyone discusses it and everyone knows what's going on because it is available on the Internet. Having said that, everyone on social media is not a trade person.
AB: Every ninth person today looks at first-day figures and discusses how much a film can grow on Saturday and Sunday.
VD: And every ninth person is listening to what these people are saying, that the opening will be this and so and so...
AB: 90 per cent of the time, they are inflated, so we don't even go by that.
BOI: Badrinath Ki Dulhania... Does it annoy you?
AB: There are some things we can't control but I think our main thing is that the film should be loved.
VD: This exhibitor, Akshay Rathi, wrote this really nice article on how we should probably not give out figures. From the first or second day itself, people start discussing a film's figures, and only if the film makes '100 crore do they think, 'Oh, this is a great film and we should go now.' Why are we giving out figures? Figures are relevant only to the people making the film. So why show off these figures? All people need to know is whether the film did well or not.
AB: We can gauge that by seeing how much love that film has got. That lives on, love lives on. After a few years, people are going to forget how much money Humpty made or didn't make; they will remember the film and the characters.
VD: Earlier, there used to be just percentages, no figures. Like so-and-so film took a 30 per cent opening… that was much better. But now you know the exact number of crores and that too everyday. This is too much!