The affable actor who has come to in his own right up the ladder of success after his humble debut with Karan Johar’s THE STUDENT OF THE YEAR and proved his mettle in films like MAIN TERA HERO, HUMPTY SHARMA KI DULHANIYA, BADLAPUR, ABCD 2 and DILWALE tells Jyothi Venkatesh that though he finds the process of acting very boring, he finds it is very much worth it.
What is your latest film Dishoom about ?
The action adventure film is based on just a one line. What happens when India’s top batsman goes missing in the Middle East and two cops from either side of the Arabian Sea set out for a 36-hour man hunt for him.
What is your role in the film ?
Play Junaid Ansari, a rooky cop, who is on the trail of the cricketer. To prepare for my part in the film, I had to undergo three months of strenuous physical training.
What is Akshaye Khanna doing in the film, which is a sort of comeback for him as an actor ?
Akshaye Khanna, who was last seen in GALI GALI CHOR HAI is all set to make a comeback with DISHOOM as the main antagonist. His role will be that of a flamboyant smart-talking villain, who rattles off one wisecrack after another. Though Akshaye has previously played villainous roles, in this film he will be garbed in a flashy, slightly over the-top wardrobe, as an Afghan man.
Whose idea was it to cast Akshaye Khanna in Dishoom ?
It takes a lot of courage for a director to take a decision to cast an actor who is unwilling to take up roles in films. It was my brother and director Rohit’s idea to cast Akshaye Khanna in the film, because he felt that he will be perfect for the role. Rohit even went out of the way to go to Akshaye’s house several times to convince him to be a part of the film.
What is Sajid’s contribution to the song Sau Tarah Ke in DISHOOM ?
Sajid Nadiadwala’s contribution to the song Sau Tarah Ke in DISHOOM has been immense. It was more like a theme song in the beginning. He suggested it be made into a complete song. A film like DISHOOM could only be produced by Sajid. He has that sensibility.
How was the experience working with Jacqueline Fernandez for the first time ?
We shot in Morocco, Abu Dhabi and the Middle East. I knew John earlier as he had worked with my brother in DESI BOYZ. It was for the first time that I shot with Jacqueline, who is very chilled out. I had a lot of fun working with her. I remember having had a blast of time shooting with her in Morocco where there were a lot of animals. As it was very hot, we made it a point to give a monkey called Koko lots of water when we were shooting. One day when Jackie was holding Koko on her lap, Koko peed on her and it was fun to see Jackie embarrassed.
Can you go on a flashback on your career ?
After doing my Business Administration at Nottingham, I came to India, became an assistant director and then started learning from Barry John and even directed three short films. I showed to Karan the short film ADRENCHROME in which I had acted. He liked it and asked me to audition for STUDENT OF THE YEAR which he was planning to direct himself. To prepare me and Sidharth Malhotra, Karan sent us to Pineapple School of Dancing in London.
Was acting always in your mind even when you were a kid ?
Till I obtained training in acting for two years from Barry John when he shifted from New Delhi and set up his acting school in Mumbai, I did not know how difficult it would be as an actor, because an actor’s life isn’t just about glamour. I went through the grind by being part of several plays that Barry conducted as part of his acting curriculum. Barry Sir knew that I wanted to act in films eventually and hence he encouraged me a lot to be well versed in not only acting but also dancing and body-building by going to the gym. I learnt Street Jazz from Shiamak Davar and dancing from Sanjay Yadav. It was sweet on the part of Prashant to offer to teach me gym training, without even taking a paisa from me.
What is your basic approach to acting ?
I hate makeup because though I am an actor, I find the process of acting very boring. I feel that it is very taxing to portray and project emotions on the screen. I also feel that the working hours for an actor are crazy but then at the end of the day, frankly I feel that acting is worth it.
Why did you prefer to be launched by Karan Johar instead of by your own father David Dhawan ?
I confess that I did not want to work with father, because I would not have been able to learn in that case from him. My father has to his credit as many as 40 films, but unlike Karan Johar or Yashji who launch new faces, my dad hasn’t launched even one single new face. I am glad I made my debut with Karan Johar’s STUDENT OF THE YEAR. Dad and Karan do not even know each other socially because both their schools of films are different. Dad was happy when I told him that I had joined Karan’s unit as an AD.
You acted with your father in MAIN TERA HERO after you delivered a hit in STUDENT OF THE YEAR. Why did you not like to piggyback on his name before ?
I am very practical and feel that cinema is no one’s birthright and hence I feel that I should come up on my own without piggybacking on my father’s brand name. People felt that David Dhawan ka beta tho comedy karega but I wanted to be an actor, not just somebody’s son. I’d like to do something edgy, because I get a kick by doing what people do not at all expect from me. I am proud of being the son of David Dhawan, who is a self made man. I knew that if I do not slog it out on my own, as his son I can go to any producer’s office, get a cup of coffee but will not bag a film, just because I am his son.
What was your father’s reaction ?
I am proud of my father and happy that he had stoically told me to make it on my own steam and not to expect him to launch a film for me, especially since even my elder brother Rohit had bagged his debut film as a director on his own steam. My mum was scared because she knew that it is very difficult to make my way through when my dad did not want to launch me as an actor. My dad had brought me and Rohit up by slogging behind the camera as well as the editing table as an editor.
What next ?
After DISHOOM, I am working in Karan Johar’s Shashank Khaitan directed BADRINATH KI DULHANIYA and Sajid Nadiadwala’s JUDWAA 2.