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Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra, who made his debut in the glossy romance ‘Student Of The Year’, looks back on 2019 sagaciously.

His career that began in 2012 has been a mixed bag of hits such as ‘Ek Villian’, ‘Kapoor & Sons’ and misses like ‘Brothers’, but he claims he learnt a whole lot more from his failures than his successes.

“There’s no fear of the unknown anymore,” said Malhotra in an interview with Gulf News tabloid!, ahead of the release of his new film ‘Marjaavaan’.

“There are Fridays that didn’t go as well as I thought. But I cannot let the fear of failure every Friday [the day a movie releases in India] affect my choices of today. That will be detrimental,” said Malhotra.

In his latest star-crossed romance ‘Marjaavaan’, directed by Milaap Zaveri, Malhotra plays a toughened orphan, Raghu, who falls in love with a Kashmiri woman (Tara Sutaria) with a speech impediment, but takes the tough call of killing her for her own good.

Riteish Deshmukh plays an arch villain who has a score to settle with Raghu and stands in their way of a happy ending for the couple. As the movie gears up for release, we spoke to Malhotra about his new film, his career and his last one year. His take on…

His new film Marjaavaan

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“At its core, it’s a love story that’s unique and is filled with action, drama and emotions. In the trailer, you see two lovers and how one takes the life of the other. It’s an unfortunate love story. But you have to watch the movie to find out why.”

His role in the film

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“I play Raghu, an orphan brought up in the streets of Mumbai. He’s a part of the water mafia in Mumbai and he’s larger-than-life. He’s strong and gritty. But he’s righteous, too. One of my favourite aspects of this film is that he sports four tattoos on his fingers with signs of four religions in India. Raghu is an orphan who believes that all Gods are one even if I go to a temple, mosque or church. He wasn’t born into a religion and so he embraced all. I loved that thought. I tried to come up with a name that doesn’t give away my faith, but that was tough. So we came up with the tattoos.”

His take on mercy killing

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“I can’t divulge why Raghu takes the life of his lover, but it is not a typical love story. He’s in love with a Kashmiri [Tara Sutaria] who’s mute in the film. She can’t communicate through her voice, but we speak to each other with our eyes. So that makes our love story very pure with an unfortunate end.”

Re-uniting with Riteish Deshmukh after the massive success of ‘Ek Villain’

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“When we took on ‘Ek Villain’, it was the first time we saw Riteish in a negative role and my role was a huge gamble that paid off. It was the third film of my career, but it was my first film that entered the Rs100crore club. We became this hit hero-villain jodi and that’s rare.”

The relevance of his love story in the age of dating apps

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“India is vast and the references you are giving are for those who are more affluent. They are used to social networking. But this is a film that is about those living in the heartlands of our country called Bharat. We have created a world for all those who still live in mohallas [community housing] and have financial constraints. It’s a darker world of India and Mumbai city. It will transport you to another world. There’s an audience for such films. This movie is an ode to our roots — we are known for our larger-than-life dramatic cinema in Bollywood. We are not trying to make a film like ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ or a ‘Kapoor & Sons’ that I was a part of. We are trying to transport you to another world.”

Experimenting with his roles

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“It excites me to take on roles that are varied, but it is impossible to predict how a film is going to do. Every Friday when a movie of mine releases, it comes with a new ending. I have learnt a lot this year. I also realise that there are superstars in Bollywood who can say that all their films have gone their way. Success and failure are a part of my career. I genuinely feel that I have learnt more from my failures than my success. It makes you introspect and makes you think about where you went wrong as a team. Filmmaking is team effort. As an actor, I am just a part of the project. There’s lots to learn here.”

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Riteish Deshmukh takes an evil turn

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Riteish Deshmukh, who plays the short-statured arch villain Vishnu in ‘Marjaavaan’, says his character’s evil roots spring from a deep-seated childhood trauma.

“His insecurity stems from his father liking Raghu [Sidharth Malhotra] more than him. He craves for acceptance from his own father who has picked Raghu from a garbage can and when he doesn’t get it, he lashes out,” said Deshmukh in a separate interview. His father is a water mafia don in Mumbai and Deshmukh’s character feels slighted when his father picked an orphan instead of his own son.

“I am the rightful heir, but the throne goes to someone else and he couldn’t bear that. Knowing that his father thinks he’s incapable of the job kills him emotionally… That scars him and all his actions are based that anger,” said Deshmukh.

What made it fascinating for Deshmukh, who was last seen in the harebrained comedy ‘Housefull 4’, was that his character in Marjaavaan has an emotional arc. It’s a well-written character who believes that what he does is right and justified, he adds.

“He fully realises that he can be overpowered in seconds by a tall, six-footer. But he still continues being evil. In his eyes, he’s right … We are exposed to news that show that human beings are capable of evil and my character is based on such debased characters.”

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