{ Page-Title / Story-Title }

Interview Hindi

Sidharth Malhotra: Today, audience is rejecting anything that is substandard

The A Gentleman actor gets candid about playing a double role and the current state of the film industry.

Keyur Seta

Playing a double role tests the skills of an actor as it is difficult to play two diverse characters within a same film. However, it is not often that an actor gets such a chance. Aamir Khan played a double role in Dhoom (2013) after spending close to 30 years as an actor in the industry. For Sidharth Malhotra, the chance has come pretty early. He would be seen in a dual role in Raj-DK’s A Gentleman. 

In a friendly chat with Cinestaan.com, the actor gets candid about the challenges he faced, nepotism angle and the sorry state of affairs at the box office in 2017. 

Earlier there were reports that A Gentleman is the sequel to Bang Bang (2014), which starred Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif. 
That was on the first day. There was so much confusion that we wrote on the clap-board, ‘Not Bang Bang 2’ just to kill all the controversies. It was considered its (Bang Bang) sequel because our film is also a Fox Star production. They (makers of Bang Bang) somewhere internally might have thought that they want to take that franchise forward. But this film has no connection. From the trailer, you can see that the cast, directors, the world and the budget are different. Ours is a quarter of the budget of what they (makers of Bang Bang) spent [laughs]. 

Do you think it is very crucial to make the film in the right budget given the state of the industry right now?
Absolutely! That’s something I am very conscious of after what we have seen recently. There is an old quote, Karan (Johar) told us of Yash ji (Chopra), ‘Films don’t go wrong, budgets do.’ When you do action, it is very difficult to keep things intact.

But Fox and Raj-DK decided very consciously that we will make the action more thrilling with hand-to-hand combat. Keep it more real. It doesn’t have to be CGI or big buildings blowing up. You can still get the same effect and make it stylish. So, I think we are pretty happy with the budget.

Today with satellite and music (rights), we recover half the cost. Our film is such that we have to bank on Rs20-30 crore from the box office, which takes a lot of pressure off  from the actor and producers. 

How was your experience of playing a double role for the first time? 
It was very interesting to play two characters. It’s not a typical double role where there are two brothers and there’s a punch. It (double role) is just a part of the film. The whole film is not based on it as we have called it 'A Gentleman' and not 'Two Gentlemen'. It’s a nice twist on it.

We started this film a year ago and that time there were no double role films around. Now we have one such film ahead (Judwaa 2) and one already behind (Mubarakan). So, it seems our film is also like that. But actually that’s not the case. The film is surely not just about that. 

Sidharth as Gaurav

Nonetheless, these two different characters are from two different worlds. Gaurav is an NRI who stays in Miami. He has got very typical dreams. He wants to have a nine to five job. He wants to make a family. He has got a big house for his family. He has got a mini van for his kids. He knows how to cook for his wife. He is an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) person. He wants everything clean. But it’s just that he doesn’t have a wife. He is waiting to get married.

Sidharth as Rishi

Rishi is in Mumbai. He is the more aggressive loner. He is longing to not do his work. He is not happy with the work he is doing. He wants to wear leather jackets and do action, bikes, guns and jumping off a building. Both have distinct characteristics. I actually enjoyed the Rishi bit because it’s more heroic, stylised and action. 

Right now, out of the young male actors, you are the only one who is an outsider. Does that give you a special sense of gratification?
Definitely! Whenever I look back and see my journey, it does give me a sense of self, confidence and satisfaction. It has worked out in the past. I have gone through a very odd journey, coming from south Delhi and assisting here. Then struggling, not having a job, shifting houses and today I am here giving interviews.

So, definitely, it gives me a lot of gratitude and confidence. It takes away that fear because I started from zero. By any chance if I stop performing and acting, I will still be multiple folds up when I started off. So, I feel there is always a sense of achievement. 

You have been in the industry for five years now. What all have you learnt in this period?
Loads! Starting from Student Of The Year (2012), the sheer magnitude of the number of people (working in a film) and the stardom that you can achieve. We went on Karan’s platform and we met everybody during promotions. I didn’t know anyone. The other two (Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt) still knew uncles, aunties and others. And I was just like, ‘Hello sir.’

Then Hasee Toh Phasee (2014) got me into a pure performance zone. It was a small budget film. Ek Villain (2014) got me into the action zone of how to be into action and portray a personality. Brothers (2015) was into sports and was more physical and I had to match up to a senior actor. I got to learn a lot from Akshay (Kumar). We have a great relationship today. I love him as a person and co-star. In Kapoor & Sons (2016), there were all amazing actors around me. In Baar Baar Dekho (2016) I had to age myself and take that as a challenge, although the film didn’t get accepted. 

I haven’t repeated myself in the past. I have made a conscious effort to try different genres. I feel we have to change the trend of the past. In olden times, one actor only used to do one kind of role and look the same. I think the trend is different, though Mr Aamir Khan is the only one who does it here. At this phase, I am enjoying the work I am doing. All the scripts that I have in the next six months are the scripts I love – A Gentleman, Ittefaq and Aiyaary. 

This year there have hardly been any hits. What do you think is going wrong? 
I know, it’s pretty sad. This tells us that the audience is asking us to put a lot of pressure on writing and quality of the film. This is encouraging for filmmakers and writers.

I feel from whatever experience I have that we have a dearth of writers who only write and don’t do anything else. Otherwise, you meet writers who want to become directors or you are working with directors who are also writers.

I feel they need to be paid well. They need to be employed by agencies and production houses where their job should be that they just write scripts, ideas and dialogues and do research for all 12 months and give us quality, A-grade scripts. Be it for television, web series or movies. That will help because today the audience is rejecting anything which is little substandard.