Donning a new avatar

For his role in Shoojit Sircar’s October, Varun Dhawan relied on the director’s vision. The actor tells Shillpi A Singh how the character of Dan portrays the real him

There’s a bit of everything in actor Varun Dhawan’s eight-year-old career – romance, comedy, drama and dance. Over the years, Dhawan has tried to better his performance in every role he has essayed. He is as convincing as a love-struck small-town boy as he is in the role of a man on a mission to avenge the death of his loved ones. And though he is all fun and laughter whenever you meet him, beneath the fun-loving veneer is a serious artiste who walks the extra mile when the need arises. So, when Shoojit Sircar offered him a role in his movie October (released on April 13), not only was the 31-year-old actor elated, but he also diligently followed the director’s instructions to fit into the shoes of a 21-year-old!

How did you come to sign October?

I had gone to meet Shoojit sir at his office, and remember being dressed in casuals, my hair unkempt, and behaving clumsily in front of him. I even managed to drop a cup of tea! I had no idea at the time that my antics were adding to his vision of me as Dan [his character in the movie]. We chatted for a while, I expressed my desire to work with him and left soon after. When he offered me the role, I was overjoyed and overwhelmed.

Tell us about your experience of working with a team that boasts several National Award winners.

It was exhilarating. Apart from [Shoojit  sir, there was Juhi [Chaturvedi, screenwriter], Shantanu Moitra [music director], Avik Mukhopadhyay [cinematographer] and Nihar Ranjan Samal [sound designer]. It felt as though I were playing with the cricket team that won the World Cup in 1983! I felt like a newbie on the set and was honoured to be part of such a stupendous project.

Tell us about playing Dan. What is your fondest memory of him?

I surrendered to sir and his team’s vision of Dan. The most memorable moment while shooting this film occurred when sir told me that only I could be Dan and that he [Dan] is the real Varun. In October, you will see the real me – the Varun beyond the makeup, the glitz, the fancy costumes and everything else that comes with being a celebrity. I could also feel myself growing as an actor during the making of this film.

So, in a way, October gives you a break from your celebrity image.

The film explores a different side of me – Dan shows me in a new light. And it’s all sir’s handiwork! For me, October is more than just a film. It made me feel like a debutant. And to feel that way after nine movies is wonderful! Both the character and the subject are different from what I have done before and when I heard the story, I was truly moved. It was also a proud moment for me when sir said, ‘Varun is making his debut with Banita [Sandhu] in October.’

Speaking of debutants, how was the experience of working with newbie Banita Sandhu?

Banita is just 20 years old, and she is the surprise package of the film. The maturity with which she handled Shiuli’s role stunned me and the entire team. She put in more than 100 per cent for this role. Also, she has beautiful, expressive eyes that lent a charm to her character. Apart from Juhi and sir, Banita made the movie much easier for me.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

Yash Raj Films’ Sui Dhaaga – Made in India, with Anushka [Sharma] is next. But it’s not a surprise any more, is it? (laughs) The pictures are all over!

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