Actor says that playing Badri helped him bounce back and he’s now ready to do a double for dad David Dhawan and experiment with Shoojit Sircar’s upcoming film
Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; February 28, 2017)

Five years after he made his debut with Karan Johar’s Student of the Year, Varun Dhawan admits that in 2016 he was on the verge of a burnout. Trying to please everyone, from filmmakers and fans to his family, left the 29-year-old actor “completely depleted” after his last release, brother Rohit Dhawan’s Dishoom. Two months into the promotions, the feeling got worse.

“It was a relief when I jumped into Badrinath Ki Dulhania in which I wasn’t expected to look good or even gel my hair. Shashank (writer-director Shashank Khaitan) wanted me to be a mess,” says Varun who’s looking natty in green overalls and matching trainers today. Noticing him trying to trim his beard for a photo-shoot, his stylist strolls up and stands beside him, arms crossed disapprovingly. “This guy also styles Hrithik Roshan,” Varun chuckles, quick to add that promoting a film is more fun with Alia Bhatt.

The ‘students’ are re-uniting two years after Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and since the film was announced, the grapevine has been buzzing about a rift between the duo, following a tiff between Varun and Alia’s beau, Sidharth Malhotra. Varun borrows Aamir Khan’s punchline from 3 Idiots to answer this, “Aal ees well, aal ees well.”

He goes on to assert that while Alia and he are best friends, all the three students are on friendly terms. “We may choose to do different films and are temperamentally different, but Alia and me are each other’s sounding boards. Our conversations often begin with me asking Alia, ‘Is this the right thing to do or does it need to change?’ and she assuring me that ‘Aal ees well,’” he guffaws, adding that five minutes later, she’s the one who’s worrying and he’s calming her down. “That’s our life in a nutshell.”

He, however, acknowledges that some of the “tu tu main main” that one will see in their upcoming film is for real. “I surrendered to Shashank’s vision since he knew this world better than us. But with Alia there were constant differences, both on screen and off it. It helped me act better,” Varun says, with a good-natured laugh.

He goes on to reveal that Badri is in constant conflict, wondering whether to behave the way his parents want him to or explore the new world he is seeing for the first time. “Isn’t that something we face all the time? I know, I do,” he says.

Is that why he refuses to talk about his relationship with childhood sweetheart and stylist Natasha Dalal whom he makes hand-in-hand appearances with at filmi parties but refers to as a “close friend” while talking to the cameras?

“There is a huge on-going debate about what I say and do. But there is a reason I behave in a certain way and have consciously chosen to be this person. I am aware that I cannot be like other 29 year olds or like my non-filmi friends. I can’t abuse or drink at parties because there could be a kid watching me. People can think I’m dumb or trying to be someone else, but I’m just not comfortable with certain things,” Varun says, adroitly avoiding any reference to any specific person.

The actor kicks off David Dhawan’s Judwaa sequel in London in April and will roll with another character-driven film directed by Shoojit Sircar by the year end. “It’s a beautiful film, a new space for me, something I’ve not explored before. We just met today, I don’t want to divulge more,” he says.

Will there be a part three to the Dulhania series? Varun is quick to say that he doesn’t want to be unfair to his pal. “Shashank began his career with Alia and me and if he comes up with a character as delightful as Humpty or Badri, I’ll do it. But as a friend, I want him to do bigger films, work with bigger actors like Ranbir Kapoor,” says Varun who wants to produce content for the digital medium and act in it too. “I’d like to experiment with something dark, may be a scifi or even a supernatural thriller.”