Bollywood actor Kartik Aaryan looks distinctly troubled and has been on his phone for more than 30 minutes as a local journalist awaits his turn to interview him.
But Aaryan, who was in Dubai recently to promote his upcoming horror comedy ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’, is too preoccupied to even notice that he has been keeping a handful of select journalists waiting while he frantically speaks on the phone.
Bets were being placed on when he will finally get off the call and give his undivided attention to the task at hand.
So when it was finally our turn to pin him down, we asked him the obvious question: ‘What was eating Kartik Aaryan?’
Was he stressed or is this nervous energy his aura these days?
“I am not stressed. This is my frenzy mode! There are a lot of things happening right now in India even as I am in Dubai … I was just multitasking,” said Aaryan.
To be fair, he wasn’t exaggerating or being dramatic. He was busy talking to his team in India about an upcoming song release from ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ and the distance between them was making things a tad complicated.
“I don’t want to lose out on time … As an actor, I am a greedy actor and I want a lot of things. I am an ambitious guy and I want to do it all in the most perfect way!” explained Aaryan.
This actor, who has a devoted female fan following among movie-mad Indians, has been on a crazy roll promoting his first theatrical release after the COVID-19 lockdown. For the title song of ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’, he reminds us that he hopped across four cities in India — Chandigarh, Lucknow, Delhi and Gurugram — in just one day.
“And because I am ambitious, I was able to pull that off. All the units are working round the clock … We don’t want anything to go wrong and we want to whip up a positive frenzy. ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ is a comedy with supernatural elements and we want everyone to be as frenzied as us,” said Aaryan with a laugh. While it’s yet to be known how ‘BB2, releasing in UAE cinemas on May 20, will be embraced there was no denying that Aaryan is the kind of actor who will pull all the stops to promote his films.
It’s a significant theatrical release for this self-made star, who made headlines recently for his alleged fallout with Bollywood power broker and movie mogul Karan Johar. His recent ouster from Johar’s production ‘Dostana 2’ triggered debates on whether it was a career suicide for Aaryan.
But it was clear from our interaction with Aaryan that he had put that controversial episode behind him and was keen to focus on making ripples with what was on his plate right now.
“I am a hustler,” declares Aaryan proudly. Without taking any names or referring to any particular incident, Aaryan claimed that he ‘had no regrets’ in his life.
“I have enjoyed my journey so far. When I look back, I feel I have seen many ups and down and it’s still the start of my career. I still have a long way to go. I started early and my struggles started really early. I have been auditioning for so long and I have gone through phases when there was no films in my hand when I entered this Hindi film industry,” pointed out Aaryan.
The struggles of this self-made actor, who made his debut in 2011 with the blockbuster ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’, is a part of film folklore.
Born in a small town in Gwalior, his middle-class parents who weren’t from the film industry wanted him to pursue a safe and lesser volatile career like engineering. But when Aaryan was in his 9th grade, he saw Shah Rukh Khan’s thriller ‘Baazigar’ and was bitten by the acting bug. Like millions of actor hopefuls who come from small towns in India to take a stab at acting, Aaryan has undergone his share of rejections and auditions that didn’t always translate into roles. He famously revealed that he shared a pad with several other guys to make ends meet in Mumbai during his initial days as a struggling actor.
It took him more than two and a half years to land his first acting role. His lengthy monologue and rant about ‘what women want’ from the romantic comedy ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’ became his signature and heralded his arrival as a talent to watch out for.
While his female-averse litany was blasted for being sexist and misogynistic, he undoubtedly developed a cult fan following this breakthrough comedy. He topped it up with interesting films such as ‘Luka Chuppi’, ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’, ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ and Netflix film ‘Dhamaka’.
“I am grateful for where I have reached … There was a time when people were not accustomed to my name. There were so many ups and downs but I have learned to deal with them. Those phases have made me stronger and I think that’s where all this energy comes from! Deep in my head I know I can overcome any problem,” said Aaryan. His nervous energy is contagious. Right after the round of interviews with the UAE press, he was planning to be a part of a dance flash mob at the Burj Khalifa to drum up more excitement for his new film.
Directed by Anees Basmee and written by Farhad Samji, this T-Series production is an unrelated sequel to Akshay Kumar’s 2007 hit ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’. In the second instalment, also starring Kiara Advani, Aaryan has stepped into the role of a ghost buster Ruhan.
“This isn’t a sequel in the strictest sense of the word. But you will feel a bit nostalgic about the first one … But you can watch ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ on its own. It’s a new film,” said Aaryan.
The first instalment, which was a remake of the 1993 Mohanlal-led Malayalam blockbuster ‘Manichitrhrathazhu’, saw Akshay Kumar as an endearing and comical ghost buster who’s on a mission to exorcise the vengeful ghost Manjulika from an old manor.
Balancing both horror and comedy deftly is a tricky genre, believes Aaryan.
“There’s a thin line that we have to tread in a horror comedy. We can’t go overboard and it’s easy for my character to go overboard … Balancing all the layers of comedy and horror is where magic begins. My character is smart, nutty, and naughty. He’s someone who lives in the moment. I have to put myself a bit out there,” said Aaryan. But the actor in him just revealed at the thought of the challenge.
“As an actor, I am greedy to do all kinds of roles and genres … As an actor it’s our job to adapt and emote. I enjoy the process of acting and the world is our oyster … My job is to entertain you all."
“My director Anees Bazmee knows the pulse of the audience from Ludhiana to London. He makes a good family entertainer and has such a big audience base,” said Aaryan.
Did you know?
Kartik Aaryan will be one of the prime performers of the upcoming International Indian Film Academy Awards which will play out this June in Abu Dhabi. “I am going to perform all my hit songs from this film for the first time on stage. And I am really looking forward to the IIFA weekend,” said Aaryan.
Don’t miss it!
‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ is out in UAE cinemas on May 20.