The very young Sidharth Malhotra has had more hits than misses in his short career. The actor says that he has never played by the book, a strategy, he thinks has worked for him. Sidharth is just back from Thailand and has started with the drill of promoting his upcoming film Kapoor & Sons. In an informal chat with us, he talks about his tryst in tinsel town, experiencing his first flop with Brothers and how he can never let his mentor Karan Johar down. Excerpts:
Do you miss working with Akshay Kumar given the perks of travelling in private jets during city tours?
(Laughs) Yes, that’s one thing I am really missing while promoting my current film. But this is also fun. I am having a great time with Fawad and Alia.
The promotional campaign for Kapoor & Sons seems very different from the way Karan Johar usually likes to promote his films. This one is just a 15 day campaign…
Yes, we are trying to have a tight campaign. The first trailer is the first impression and then we have the songs, which are doing very good. Let’s hope this turns out to be a new norm for promoting films.
Another film with Dharma Productions…What does the banner mean to you after the big launch?
Everything. Dharma has given me everything and I owe whatever I am to this banner. I am always available for them and will be there whenever they need me. I feel fortunate that we get first hand options of all the scripts that they have. We get to know what’s there and we can pitch for it. I am always chasing good content.
Has there been a case where you selected a script for yourself but Karan didn’t approve?
Not so far because it has always been in tandem. Scripts come with a prerequisite and we all are aware of who will be doing what.
Have you said no to scripts Karan picked for you?
Yes I have. We all have a right to opinion and it all comes from the director who he wishes to appoint. There is no pressure as such.
Tell us more about Karan Johar. How has he been as a mentor, helping you, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt build your respective careers?
Karan doesn’t create content. He only sources it. We all go to him for advice. He is really someone to whom we can voice our concerns. We learn a lot from the wealth of experience he has and he is someone who really knows what works for us best.
When films of a particular genre works (for other actors), do you feel the need to do something on similar lines?
I have never followed any formula in my career. Honestly, having launched by Karan Johar, it’s not like I came through a normal route. But I have made no path as such. I feel when you have a library of a variety, you are just preparing the audience for the future. I don’t want to be associated with one particular style or genre of movies. Today, even heroes have changed and the younger audience wants to see us playing characters, and not ourselves. I don’t think anyone else is doing what I am doing.
Your last film Brothers didn’t live up expectations. How did you cope with the failure?
Yes, it was my first encounter of not getting acceptance from the audience. I am well prepared now and I have learnt from those experiences. Sometimes the audience expects something else but I have no regrets doing that film. We gave it our best and Karan Malhotra is a great director.
How did Karan help you overcome the low phase?
I think even he feels it as he was on the same boat. But more than that, we were answerable to him, as we didn’t live up to his expectation. He obviously has gone through this phase many times and he knows how to handle it. So rather than him feeling bad, if at all, I feel far more answerable to him.
Shakun Batra became a close friend of Imran Khan when he made his first film with him, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. How did you get along with Shakun during the making of Kapoor & Sons?
We got along great, in fact we are quite close friends now. He is the kind of person that’s extremely casual — he doesn’t have any set of strict norms on the sets or formalities. Also, he is very good with feedback. There are many directors who work with a locked script, but he is good with changes. For an actor it is very difficult to portray someone else’s vision but he makes it easy for me. So yes, working with Shakun has been one of my best experiences.
When Salman had met you in his home long time ago, he had told you that maybe you don’t have what it takes. Does this line haunt you still, especially on bad days?
No, it’s all done and dusted away. It took me two years to understand what he said to me that day. The more I meet him the more I understand him. It is his style of communication and I don’t have any animosity towards him.
Are you still vegan?
No, that was only for Kapoor & Sons. My diet keeps changing with each film. Now I am starting to prepare for an action role, so I have started eating meat.
We heard an instance where you were not getting a reservation at a restaurant in New York and then a waiter identified you and got you a table for you and your family. Is that true?
(Smiles) Yes. It feels extremely good and these are the perks of being a known face. I have been an observer, an audience for the longest time. Tables have turned and now people observe me. So yeah, it’s great to be famous.
Last question — Student of the Year 2 will be announced in few months. What do you think the new cast needs to keep in mind?
It will be great for them and for the first time, there will be a franchise of a film based on college life. I owe everything to that film and I wish more people from outside the industry to get an entry here. This will help in better casting for franchises such as this one, and like me more outsiders will be able to achieve their dream.