Varun Dhawan

Varun Dhawan as Zafar in “Kalank.” Dhawan told India-West that his character in the film carries a lot of baggage and is battling internal demons, but as an actor, he enjoyed playing the role. (photo provided)

Varun Dhawan’s affability is second nature with him, and he can afford not to be affected by “October,” which won acclaim only for him. And the fact that he is everyone’s favorite among GenY actors along with Ranveer Singh is enough to keep him “greedy” (his word) as an actor.

We meet him days before the release of “Kalank,” his first truly ensemble cast film, in which he plays the enigmatic role of Zafar.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q: “I am a greedy actor!” you say. Elaborate, please.

A: I love to do films intense roles like “Kalank” and the full spectrum of films from “October” to out-and-out mass entertainers that do superbly at the box-office, like “Judwaa 2” and “Badrinath Ki Dulhania.” I would also love to do a digital series as I think that they too have a massive reach now. I want to do every kind of film and satisfy every kind of audience! I have now started a YouTube channel that has parallel content.

However, while my films are those that no one else does nowadays, my height of 5 feet 9 inches comes in the way of my doing some kind of movies as well! Like I do admire Ranbir Kapoor for “Sanju” and Ranveer Singh as Khilji in “Padmaavat,” but I cannot possibly do either role!

Q: Something about Zafar, your character in “Kalank.”

A: His anger can go from zero to hundred in a second. He carries a lot of baggage and is battling internal demons. But as an actor, I enjoyed him as I also get to sing a great song like “First Class” and actually fight a bull! My director Abhishek Verman, who incidentally also has a lot of suppressed angst within him, knew Zafar in detail and his brief to me was that he was an arrogant c******! He even told me that when Zafar smiled, his teeth should not be seen! And I had to do a lot of acting with my eyes.

Q: At the trailer launch, you spoke of how you and Abhishek had been roommates when “My Name Is Khan” was being shot, and that he looked after you to the extent of ironing your clothes. Have you known each other for very long, as his father, R. Verman, was the art director of almost 20 films of your dad David Dhawan?

A (Shakes his head): No, strangely enough, I never knew him. It was my father who knew Abhishek as a kid and became very emotional when he came to know that we were working together. Abhishek is against the palette of the older kind of commercial movies, and is obsessive about new-age Hindi cinema, though his films follow the classic ‘filmi’ route.

Q: Expectations from him are high after “2 States.”

A: Till the end, he keeps mulling over details in post-production, VFX, DI and sound, which are very vital for our film. Rather than just approving what his team is doing, he would go into everything personally. The set he created was a complete world. I play a lohar (ironsmith) and my bhatti (furnace) was authentic. Then there was a tea-stall, carpets from Afghanistan in another shop, a small cinema house and even a water body that goes to Bahaar Begum’s house.

Q: Okay, this is your fourth film with mentor Karan Johar. Alia Bhatt, who began with you, has done nine films with him, with different heroes. But you have had only Alia Bhatt in Karan’s films!

A: It’s in my contract! (Laughs). Well, the director decides the hero and heroine. We share a fabulous vibe, as Alia and I have known each other for too long, and we just take off from the last time even when we meet after long! I even come to know that she is about to fall! And with Karan, it’s never as if I have to accept a film he offers. He comes to me only when he is sure he wants me, and so far, I have always agreed with him.

Q: How is “Street Dancer” shaping up?

A: We are doing some crazy stuff in it! The music’s superb and, for me, it’s like coming back to family with Prabhudheva-sir, Remo-sir and now Shraddha Kapoor after “ABCD 2.” Shraddha has fitted us in in her super-busy schedule. Katrina (Kaif) tried her best to accommodate us, but she wanted the film to be pushed, which was not possible.

Q: What about the “Coolie No. 1” remake your dad is making? What is the truth in all the different buzz we hear?

A: We have kept the core idea and title, but it is an adaptation. Obviously, As my dad says, I cannot do what Govinda did. We must understand that the earlier film was made almost 25 years earlier and there are two generations that have not watched it but only heard about it. I must have watched it at least a thousand times, and I hope we can re-create it well.

Q: So there will be pressures?

A (Nods): Pressure must always be there to deliver something good. Without a risk, nothing good can be created.

Q: What is your brother Rohit Dhawan doing now?

A: Apart from helping out my dad on “Coolie No. 1,” he’s also working on his own script, but I don’t think it is for me. But I recently did two ad films with him.

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