Interview

Being away from friends in lockdown helped me relate to my character better, says Chutzpah actor Varun Sharma


The artiste plays Vikas, a youth who is in a long-distance relationship with a young woman played by Tanya Maniktala.

Suyog Zore

Actor Varun Sharma, who rose to fame with Fukrey (2013), is making his digital debut in the SonyLiv web-series Chutzpah. The show sees Sharma play Vikas, a youth who temporarily resides outside India and is in a long-distance relationship with Shikha, a young woman played by Tanya Maniktala.

The artiste told Cinestaan, "Our segment is about how two people who are in love have to maintain a long-distance relationship and face problems because of this."

The series was shot after the first lockdown. Like his character, Sharma couldn't meet his friends for months in this period. "That experience inadvertently helped me relate to Vikas more. I understood the concept of not being with your partner or with your family and friends during this lockdown because I had also suddenly stopped meeting guys I used to meet during my evening walk or friends with whom I used to spend my idle time. Of course, we had virtual chat but it was a completely different experience. So the experience of the lockdown really came in handy while preparing for this role," he said.

The series also stars Manjot Singh, Elnaaz Norouzi, Tanya Maniktala, Gautam Mehra and Kshitij Chauhan. 

Chutzpah shoot was toughest I've done, says Manjot Singh

The series talks about the side effects of being overreliant on social media to connect with people. Sharma who also likes to spend time online believes that it's important to strike a balance between the digital and real world. "I'm a social media guy; I love scrolling. I'm not too much of a techno-savvy guy. Technology and I don't go very well hand in hand. So if someone sets up things for me to use, I will use them. I love playing games, I love spending time on social media but I have also learned the art of keeping a balance between reality and the online world, and it's very important to distinguish between the two."

Sharma is still mostly known for his character Choocha from the Fukrey films, but he has no qualms about this. "I'm completely fine with it. Because of this character, I have become a household name. This is the film I got a chance to show my acting skills in. I had always dreamt of becoming an actor and this role gave me the opportunity to showcase that talent to the world. My character received so much love that people still call me Choocha. For any actor to be called by their character's name is the biggest achievement he can get. So I treat it as a blessing and I feel honoured," he said.

Asked if he shares traits with his Chutzpah character, Sharma said he was slightly the opposite of Vikas. "As far as I can think, there is none. I'm someone who wants a physical connection. I love meeting people physically and interacting with them, spending time with them, rather than meeting them virtually," he said.

Because of the show's format, Sharma shot most scenes in front of the laptop, which was a challenging task. "It was the first time I shot for something in this manner. I was talking to my laptop screen and it was my co-actor for the longest time in the series. As actors, we are used to feeding off of each other's energy, the subtle nuances, but here we didn't have that luxury. But it was a really different experience and hope it will help me in the future," he said.

If one looks at Sharma's filmography, it's quite clear that he has played comic roles in almost all of his films and it seems to be his favourite genre. But now he wants to shatter his funny-guy image. He said, "I would love play characters with different shades. In fact, Chutzpah is the step in that direction. My character Vikas goes through various emotions. Of course, he will make you laugh, but there are a lot of other emotions he goes through during the course of the show".

Sharma has featured in all of the projects of the show's creator Mrigdeep Singh Lamba. The actor shares a unique bond with his Fukrey director and considers him as his 'Godbrother'. "He is the one who gave me the first break in films. He has literally guided and nourished me in my journey. I discuss every project with him. Not just the scripts, but I can discuss anything with him. I feel fortunate to have a brother like Mrigdeep in my life who can guide me. The biggest blessing of having him in my life is that I don't need to think before I speak. I can just open my heart and share anything and everything with him," he said.

Like his on-screen persona, Sharma likes to make people around him smile. "I like to make people laugh hence I keep working on my sense of humour. It's always nice to make someone laugh," he said.

Asked about his upcoming projects, Sharma said that he has Fukrey 3, which will go on the floors soon, in the pipeline. He said, "We were about to start the shoot but the second wave disrupted our plans. But as soon as things get back to normal, we will start the shoot. Our entire team is quite excited to start shooting."

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