Big Screen Bonanza

The lead pair of Dilwale – Kriti Sanon and Varun Dhawan – go candid in the conversation with Box Office India

Box Office India (BOI): Varun, are you ready for your sixth film?

Kriti Sanon (KS): Hit machine! Hit machine!! Hit machine!!!
Varun Dhawan (VD): I am all set for my sixth release but it is not about how much money these films make but how much people genuinely like these films. And that is the attempt with every film.

BOI: With this film, will you be knocking it out of the park?

VD: I hope so. After Main Tera Hero, I am getting into comedy and along with that, there is a lot of drama and emotion in this film. But I primarily signed this film for the type of role I was getting to play and the emotional connect my character has with his elder brother. After Main Tera Hero, I have got an opportunity to do mainstream comedy. All of it is in Dilwale and it is full-on!
KS: It is very difficult to do comedy and it is very difficult to make people laugh. Among the younger generation of actors, I don’t think anyone else can pull it off better than Varun.
VD: Honestly, it is not what I can do. Technically, I have worked with two directors who are baaps of this genre.
KS: Your dad… I am sure you must have learnt something from him.
VD: I give him full credit. My dad and even Rohit (Shetty) sir. Look at his track record in comedy.
KS: Yes, but not everyone can attempt a Govinda-style film. I think there are very few people who look good doing that. And Varun does.

Kriti, did you realise this after the shoot or while shooting?

KS: I have been telling him this throughout the shoot.
VD: Initially, she was unsure and would keep asking me, ‘Tu aisa hi hai ya character ke liye aisa hua?’ She finally said, ‘Nahi, tu aisa hi hai.’
KS: His character Veer is a little more cracked than Varun is in real life. There is so much of Varun in the character.
VD: Are you crazy? Do you really think I behave like that in real life?
KS: Of course, you do!
VD: No, when the camera is not rolling, and I am home alone, I don’t do this sort of thing.
KS: I have not seen you home alone.

What about you, Kriti, what was your reaction when you were approached for this film?

KS: I was obviously very excited. First, there was no audition. I had just one meeting and everything was finalised. It was very exciting because I have grown up watching Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol’s films, and I couldn’t believe that I was getting a chance to work with them in my second film, and that too, a film directed by Rohit Shetty. I was also excited to work with Varun. This film has so many experienced and talented actors. Just watching them performing live is a learning experience.

BOI: Varun, what was your reaction when you got a call from Rohit sir?

VD: First, I received a call from Yunus (Sajawal) bhai. I know him very well and he has also written a lot of my dad’s films. So, in his typical sweet and low-pitched voice, he said, ‘Varun, tu aisa kar tu aaja office, apan baith lete hai ek baar aur sun lete hai par kisi ko mat bolna.’ I told my brother (Rohit Dhawan) about it as he is also a big Rohit Shetty fan. He said I should go but shouldn’t tell anyone. So I didn’t tell Karan (Johar) and I didn’t even tell my dad. These are the two people I usually tell first.

I loved the story and then, straightaway, I went to Karan’s house. Karan knows just how big a fan I am of Rohit Shetty. He is supposed to make a film with Rohit sir after this one, and I wanted to be cast in it. I would say, ‘Le lo, le lo, le lo,’ and he would make fun of me. He would always say, ‘Why should I cast you? You have to become a big star, only then will Rohit will cast you.’ So I met Karan and I said, ‘See, I got the film and I got it on my own!’ So, Karan being Karan, said, ‘Do it, it is a huge opportunity for you but be sure that you are able to pull it off.’ I told him it was in my zone and it was my kind of film. When I came home and told my dad, poor Yunus bhai who talks so sweetly in a low-pitched voice was like, ‘Haan haan haan David ji.’ His voice rose so high as he was not supposed to tell anyone! Obviously, when we all met Rohit sir, we all were kind of intimidated by him, initially.

KS: Also, he is a little shy. He doesn’t say a lot and he doesn’t open up very easily.
VD: (Cuts in) He talks under his breath. When I came to meet him in his office, he only laughed at me. Because when I went I started off with things like, Mere baal aise hone chahiye, kapde aise hone chahiye’.
KS: You said all this during your first meeting?
VD: (Laughs) Yes, and all he said was, ‘Varun, I will call you.’ I have to say that Rohit Shetty is one of the best human beings I have ever met. I mean, his team is prepared to give their life for him and that’s because he stands by them. Kuch bhi ho jane do, picture band ho jane do but Rohit Shetty will stand by his team.
KS: He also includes everyone on the set when he asks for suggestions. There was this time when we spontaneously added a line or two to a scene. Everyone offered suggestions and he accepted feedback from everyone.
VD: (Cuts in) Also, we were wondering whether he would approve of our way of doing things or taking a scene forward. I felt as if I had forgotten how to act. I was not scared acting alongside Shah Rukh sir and I was not scared to act with Kajol ma’am, but I was a little nervous in the beginning when we started working with Rohit sir. I feel his stardom and his aura as a director. Usually, directors don’t look or behave like that. He runs on the sets, he has a walkie-talkie, and he is very smooth.
KS: And he does the stunts on his own.
VD: He does them better than the hero, especially the action sequences!
KS: He is the only one who does all the action.
VD: How to walk, the attitude, the kicks and the punches… he can do them all. So initially I was like, ‘Yaar, main nahi kar paunga aur director kar lega toh merko toh karna hi padega na.’
KS: And I don’t think he has worked with newer actors, only very experienced ones.
VD: That is why he calls us baccha party. (Laughs)
KS: Yes… we had a lot of questions on the sets.
VD: Only her questions…
KS: One second… he was nicknamed ‘One More Dhawan’ on the sets.
VD: ‘One More Dhawan’ is not a question; it is for the number of takes.
KS: Yes, because after every take, he would say, ‘Sir, one more take, please sir.’
VD: That is a take, not a question.
KS: Half the time the camera wouldn’t even roll. Sir would be like, ‘Isko karne do, I will roll the camera in the next take.’
VD: Okay, when Rohit sir comes to Box Office India, you ask him about this. I won’t say anything about Kriti; you ask him.
KS: But even you…
VD: Yes, ask about me also. He will talk about me; he will praise me; he loves me. But ask about Kriti.

BOI: How did it feel when Rohit Shetty said ‘Action’ for the first time?

VD: I felt I was part of this humongous film. One of the biggest films we have ever made in this country. I mean, I was in a car; there was a GoPro in front and there was a camera on both sides; there was a telecamera; there were two or three drone cameras. So there were like 10 cameras. And Varun Sharma was sitting next to me and he got so scared. He was sweating and said, ‘Bhai, yeh kya ho raha hain bhai. Humse hoga ki nahi hoga?’

BOI: Tell us about your first scene with Shah Rukh Khan.

KS: I had met him before we started shooting the film and that’s why I became comfortable doing it. Otherwise I would have been very nervous. I was still nervous. And towards the end Rohit sir understood, so he said we would shoot the rest the next day. And there was this friendly bond I was sharing with him. It felt like I had known him for years. I was not intimidated by him. Actually, you cannot be intimidated by him. Within five second he makes everyone comfortable around him. That’s the charisma he has. It went well. I was supposed to shout at him. That was my first scene with him, shouting at him.
VD: That too quite loudly.
KS: I had to like really shout at him, point a finger at him. I was so nervous. It was awkward doing such a scene with Shah Rukh sir.
VD: It was quite funny from her point of view. I was also in the scene, but I was supposed to be scared, so main bach gaya. The scene was her scolding him. Like, ‘Shah Rukh ko daant rahi hai’, if she tried to do it in a subtle way, then one would have said, ‘Character mein nahi hain’.
KS: Shah Rukh sir kept telling me to increase the intensity and scold loudly, so I also got excited, went into a zone and did the scene. But then Rohit sir and Yunus bhai spoke to me and told me that my character would not go that far. They said, ‘Daant le but don’t get on him and stuff’. After that, the second day went fine.

BOI: And the first day when you shot with Kajol?

KS: I talk a lot on the sets otherwise. You can always hear me if you are on the sets. But that day I was not talking to anybody, I was absolutely quiet. I had never met Kajol ma’am before. And she is a little guarded. She takes her time to warm up. And she is really strong when it comes to acting. We were shooting a serious and intense scene.
VD: I don’t know what happened to her before doing that scene. I have seen that scene and it is one of her best scenes. She is very good in it.
KS: You know, the scenes that I am most scared about doing somehow turn out to be the best ones. Later, she was very helpful and told me to say a few lines a certain way so the emotion would connect.

BOI: Varun, what was your first day like with Kajol?

KS: She was laughing; I think she was laughing at you.
VD: She was laughing at me. She had seen some of my scenes from the film and I think I can say that she is very fond of me.
KS: She wants to adopt him.
VD: I get along with her really well, where humour is concerned. But we were doing serious scenes too. I actually felt I was doing a scene with a friend. It felt like meeting a friend after a long gap. I was actually very happy because she never once made me feel like I was a junior actor. It was like Kajol ma’am and I ganged up against Kriti. We just laughed throughout. 

I don’t know why. Maybe she did it to make me comfortable. We were fooling, making fun of each other. We used to laugh looking at our takes. Eventually Kriti, who was supposed to cry, also started laughing with us. Rohit sir laughed from behind the camera; I think he also gave up.

KS: Rohit sir knew he would now get the shot only after 20 minutes. Because for 20 minutes she (Kajol) then keeps laughing. And I don’t think anyone can laugh so much in between an emotional scene.
VD: Exactly… and that shows the brilliance of Kajol ma’am as an actor.
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