MUMBAI—Sidharth Malhotra has had a variegated and fairly fruitful inning in the five years he has been in the industry, with assorted films and characters. His body of work includes “Student Of The Year,” “Hasee Toh Phasee,” “Ek Villain,” “Brothers,” “Kapoor & Sons” and “Baar Baar Dekho.”
He is now set to do his first double role in “A Gentleman: Sundar, Susheel, Risky.” When India-West met him at Mehboob Studios, he was all full of beans, and we took advantage to ask him about the confusion that prevailed with the title of the film.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: Was not this film called “Reloaded” earlier?
A: Oh, that was just a working title. In fact, because Fox Star had made “Bang Bang!” everyone thought we were making a sequel. So the clapperboard at the mahurat stated, “NOT Bang Bang!” Our budget too is a quarter of that film’s cost!
Q: So who’s what in the suffix of the title? Ideally, all three adjectives should be for you, but why three adjectives for ‘two’ Sidharths?
A: Actually, ‘Sundar’ or beautiful means Jacqueline Fernandez, ‘Susheel’ or virtuous is me, and ‘Risky’ are my directors Raj and DK! (Laughs) Jokes apart, yes, my character Gaurav is ‘Sundar’ and ‘Susheel’ and Rishi is Risky!
Q: You spoke of budgets. Are you careful about these aspects?
A: I am. I am very conscious. In an action film, it is difficult to maintain the budgets planned, but we managed it. Raj & DK have not spent much on CG (Computer Graphics) but kept the action quite realistic and hand-to-hand.
After the satellite and music deals, we have covered almost half the costs. We will need just a theatrical business of maybe Rs. 30 crore to break even in this case. It is said that films don’t fail, budgets do.
Q: The year 2017’s first seven months were generally terrible. What is your take on this – only wrong budgets?
A: We also have a deficit in good writers. The audience is telling us to put more pressure on writers and in making a film. Some writers today want to turn directors, and other directors are writing films themselves. We need writers who are only writers, who should be hired by an agency to just ideate and write for all 12 months, work on scripts and the dialogues.
Q: So how was it playing both Gaurav and Rishi?
A: This is not a typical dual role film, but more of a comedy about mistaken identity. In that sense, it is different from Arjun Kapoor’s “Mubarakan” and Varun Dhawan’s “Judwaa 2” because the whole film is not based just on the dual roles. That is why the film is called “A Gentleman” and not “2 Gentlemen” or something like that.
Gaurav is an NRI from Miami and has very typical dreams, a steady 9 to 5 job, with ambitions only to marry a nice girl and raise a family. He lives in his own big house, has a mini-van for kids in the future, loves to cook, relaxes on Sundays and has an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for cleanliness. The other character, Rishi, lives in Mumbai and is an aggressive man. He is not happy with the work which he is doing.
Q: Which character was more relatable, challenging or enjoyable?
A (Laughs): I have never known someone so obsessed with getting married and settling down that he proposes to girls on his first dates with them! Now, that was something about Gaurav to which I could really not relate! I actually enjoyed playing Rishi more – he is a bit heroic, he’s stylized, and he was fun for me to essay! So there was more action from Rishi, but more humor from Gaurav.
Q: How do you like doing the action genre again after “Ek Villain?”
A: I have always loved the action genre – like James Bond, the Jason Bourne films and our older films with Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan that we barely make now. I would love now to consciously do an action film at least every two years. I would not mind even a franchise of “A Gentleman” if the film clicks!
Q: In your generation, would you like to be branded in this genre?
A: Not slotted into doing only one thing is what keeps me excited. Otherwise, I would get bored if I have to look and act the same way in every film! Like “Ittefaq” has a much softer character for me. Then there is “Aiyyari” with Neeraj Pandey-sir. This is my most exciting and enjoyable phase.
Q: Something about your risky directors?
A: They are not risky at all! Raj & DK are unique people. Originally, they are engineers who worked in the USA, and they came here for the love of cinema. So they are audience-turned-directors. They are crazy about Hindi and South Indian films and their films pretty much have all the ingredients of a commercial movie.
But they also have a very individualistic take. Their sense of humor, as seen in “Go Goa Gone,” is very quirky. I think that is their biggest plus point, their USP! “A Gentleman” is a no-stress action comedy and a two-hour rollercoaster ride, and people should take the ride!
Q: How was it working with Jacqueline Fernandez romantically for the first time?. A (Laughs) Yes, she played my bhabhi (sister-in-law) in “Brothers, ” and we interacted only during the promotions. But this time, we were together for over a year, and I really got to know her well.
Jacqueline is cool! She does not need an ice-breaker, keeps no stresses or hang-ups, is never in a low mood, and is a self-made and extremely positive person. We also bonded on fitness. She asked me out on an off-day for a fun evening at the racecourse with her friends. Thanks to her, I even went back to horse riding, in which I had once taken some lessons.
Q: You too are self-made. After five years, do you find it exhilarating that you are the only outsider among the topmost new heroes?
A: Yes, there is definitely a sense of confidence and achievement! From my home in South Delhi to having a job here and being an assistant in direction, there is a feeling of satisfaction today. The fear of failure has vanished, as I have come up from zero. Even if I stop going further up, this gratitude will remain. Each film of mine has been a learning lesson, in different ways.