The son of celebrated Bollywood director David Dhawan and brother of Rohit Dhawan (Desi Boyz), Varun Dhawan is four films old and has so far found success reasonably easy. Here, he talks to Images on Sunday about the mid-June release ABCD 2 (Anybody Can Dance 2), maturing his act, family and his interaction with Pakistanis. Varun Dhawan can next be seen in the Shahrukh Khan starrer Dilwale and Rohit Dhawan’s Dhishoom.
The choreography in ABCD 2 looks really vigorous, was the shoot exhausting?
Physically, it was very exhausting because I had never danced in this style before and (here I was) surrounded by all these dancers — people who are really fast at picking up steps. At the same time I’d get encouragement seeing them struggle with it. After about a month of shooting, I started to have fun with it.
With Prahbudeva, Remo and 3D, did the movie feel like a big undertaking?
It did. In fact there is this song called Happy Hour where I dance behind Prahbudeva. (At first) Remo didn’t want me to dance. I told him “Please sir, I want to dance with Prahbudeva” and I got the opportunity. I saw him dancing with his style — his face, everything — and I got totally blown away. It was great fun!
Being a choreographer, how was Remo’s approach to serious narrative direction?
He is as good at emotional scenes as he is at dancing. He really knows how to bring out the heart of the scene. I play a boy from a middle-class family in Mumbai who dreams of going to Las Vegas to take part in a (dance) championship.
After riding on the success of Student of the Year, Varun Dhawan is all set to dance his way into our hearts with ABCD2
During production, Remo kept telling me that I’m not Varun but the dancer Suresh. He made me adopt the body language of a dancer, the way they speak, the way they look at life etc. I think an average person from our part of the world would surely be able to identify with the character.
What made you decide to do ABCD 2?
Remo offered me ABCD 2 right after Student of the Year. I hadn’t signed any other film then. When he told me about it, I was blown away because it was in 3D! He showed me some dance footage of a group he saw in Vegas. I was like I have never danced at that level let alone do a 3D film. I asked him if he thought I would be able to do it. His answer to me was to trust him.
Does success come easily to someone born into the industry?
There will always be struggle. At the end of the day I’m a human being and I do get hurt. People assume that people born in the entertainment industry have it easy. Today’s audience has really changed; they don’t accept bad films or performances. Right from my first film, I’ve been desperate to prove myself in more ways than one.
Which of your movies have been career-changing?
Whether Main Tere Hero or Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya and now Badlapur — all had a really big effect on how people see me. I think ABCD 2 will be career-changing as well.
You worked with you father in Main Tera Hero and now you are working with your brother. Is the experience different when working with family?
It must be awkward for others, not me. With my brother, he’s almost treating me like a newcomer, which is very refreshing. I love being shouted upon on the sets and being told to give another take. My brother is a hard taskmaster (laughs).
ABCD 2 also releases throughout Pakistan in mid-June. I believe you’ve been in touch with some Pakistani actors?
One of my brother’s friend, Shawar Ali, is from Pakistan and is a family friend. My father has worked with Ali Zafar, who has been at our home for dinners and we hung out together. And my dad has visited Pakistan as well for an India-Pakistan cricket match. I even met Shaan. So I have good association with Pakistan and its people.
I’d like to visit Pakistan sometime and even shoot a film. At the end of the day, we are actors and we belong to a universal community. I believe the artists of Pakistan are also very talented, be it music or filmmakers. If a good script comes up or a collaboration, I’ll certainly look into it.
The interview was facilitated by Disney/UTV Movies
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, June 7th, 2015