‘We wanted people to accept me in the role’

After three commercial successes – Student Of The Year, Main Tera Hero and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya – he is attempting something very different in his next release, Badlapur. The teaser of the film released recently and has become the-talk-of-the-town. Pleased with the response from the trade and audience, here’s Varun Dhawan in conversation withVajir Singh.

Did you need to release the teaser three months before the film’s release as your next Badlapur is scheduled for February 20, 2015?

The teaser and ‘not the trailer’ is only 1 minute, 10 seconds long and tells you nothing about the film. It reveals the feel of Badlapur and only a tiny peek into the film. After watching the teaser, people are sitting up and taking notice, like you called me after watching it and said, ‘Wow’. That’s exactly what we want. This is a serious film and we want people to take it seriously. But more than that, we wanted people to accept me as Raghu and they have. We want the audience to wait for Raghu, not Varun Dhawan, to arrive on February 20, 2015.

So the whole idea is to awaken the audience and make them wait for Raghu.

There’s much more to this film than seeing me in a different zone. The first person I showed the teaser to Karan (Johar) and he said it is a sexy film. What he meant by ‘sexy’ was the kind of shots and the way camera moves. This is also what we wanted to reveal in our first teaser… so that people are aware of Raghu and that Nawazuddin Siddiqui features in it too… yeh iss type ki film hain. The film is only one hour and 50 minutes long but it keeps you on the edge of your seat. In January, we will be releasing our first song, which will be followed by the trailer.

What made you say ‘yes’ to this genre so early in your career?
First, it’s a true story, which makes it even more interesting, and second, it’s a very Indian film by context and very emotional. I really connected with the emotions in the film and I’m sure the audience too will relate to every character.

What kind of response are you getting? Let’s start with the response from the industry.

Crazy!!! We released it digitally and just five to seven minutes later, we started trending on social networking sites. My fans were waiting for this film. You’re asking me what made me opt for this film so early in my career because you’re curious as to why Varun Dhawan did this. Everyone is asking me the same thing and even my fans must be thinking the same. They’re thinking on these lines because people are ready to watch this kind of cinema.

When we decided to make this film, we knew we were not making a film which would break box-office records. It’s purely meant to entertain people and give them good cinema. The response is totally based on the art point-of-view and cinematic point-of-view. People are excited to watch a film of this genre made in India. You know, when we watch a film like Gone Girl, we feel happy and say ‘What a film!’ Here too, if you show something like that, they are ready to accept it.

Apart from the industry, you are also interacting with the audience to gauge their feedback. Did they call you ‘Raghu’?
I went to Mithibai College and lots of students called me Raghu. Even the media, photographers and journalists were calling me ‘Raghu’. Honestly, this was my idea… to just go and see what people are feeling about it and what they think about it. I am getting a lot of messages and, to be honest, I didn’t receive so many messages even when my debut film was releasing. The kind of messages are also very different and even my friends haven’t messaged me about any of my earlier films so much!

And what kind of responses have you received to the first poster – your violent face?

The response has been heart-warming. When we released the first poster, there was a lot of curiosity among the audience. Again, it was only a digital campaign and the response was much bigger than we expected. The film is not big; it’s a very inexpensive film and the budget is only ` 12 crore. I reduced my fees for this film because I knew what kind of film we were making and I also did it for another reason. I loved the script and I loved playing the part I am doing. Surprisingly, people have responded more enthusiastically than we expected.

Are you planning to bombard your character Raghu to the audience till Badlapur releases?

Yes, I will be doing that and to know how, you will have to wait and watch. Currently, I am shooting a track called Jee kariya and it’s an amazing song. Raghu is present in the audience. It’s a very common-man kind of character. Raghu was the name of a famous character played by Sanjay Dutt in Vaastav. And Sriram wanted to use this name because he thinks it has an audience connect. When I recently went to Gaiety-Galaxy cinema, the audience was going crazy with the name.

Did you decide on three months of promotion because the film is very close to you?

No, I am actually going to Vegas for a month to shoot ABCD 2 soon. I will be back in January and I will start promoting the film then. Like I said, this is only a teaser and we will not do anything for a month now. From January, we will start coming out with songs and trailers. We wanted to make some noise, and we have, and now people have started talking about it. They are talking about the hammer shot; it has become a topic of discussion. This was precisely the idea, to come out with a teaser three months prior to release.

The point is- Varun, who has delivered three commercial hits, back-to-back, has suddenly gone to this other zone.

Yes, why he is doing it etc has become a talking point. That is exactly the idea and we are happy it has worked out that way.
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