After doing three films together — two of which were box office hits and one currently put on hold — the much-loved on screen couple Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt return with Badrinath Ki Dulhania, out in the UAE on March 9. The sequel to the romantic franchise that began in 2014 with Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania will see many of the actors from the earlier film.
Humpty… was the love story of a young, designer wear-crazy woman and a stranger who simply decides to help fulfil her dream of finding the perfect wedding dress, while Badrinath… “comes with a message”, Dhawan tells Gulf News tabloid!. Badri (Dhawan) is a school drop-out who falls for Vaidehi (Bhatt), a scholarly young woman with set ambitions. However, why they fall in love is something neither actor wishes to reveal.
“I don’t want to say much about the story because I want people to be surprised when they watch the film,” said Dhawan. “[Humpty and Badri] are poles apart. Badri is a boy from Jhansi in the state of Uttar Pradesh and she’s [Bhatt] playing a girl from Kota, Rajasthan. It’s a [story] of two people who have very different ideologies, who make a world together... actually, they don’t really make one together. I’m playing a man who is chauvinistic to a certain degree, which I wasn’t in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania.”
But Dhawan feels it was an interesting part to play because of Badri’s emotions and the way he thinks.
“You know when you do a Badrinath Ki Dulhania, you are not acting through your mind, but, acting and reacting through your heart. Initially, just to think and react like Badri was difficult for me — to become that person,” explained Dhawan. “Shashank [Khaitan, the director] wanted me to live the role, not just plan every movement. So, somehow, to get into the character it took me [some time] because there were a lot of things that I don’t agree with personally [in Badri]. But overall, the story has a very nice message in the end, which is what I agree with. Also, to show good, sometimes you need to be bad.”
Bhatt, on the other hand, feels playing Vaidehi wasn’t as big a challenge after last year’s Udta Punjab and Dear Zindagi. Comparing Kavya, her character in Humpty…, and Vaidehi, Bhatt says they are “completely different”.
“Kavya was naive who’s only ambition was to get married in a Kareena Kapoor-Manish Malhotra designed lehenga. She was very simple, very childlike. Vaidehi is way more mature. She has strong ambitions, she’s way more level-headed and a little bitter because of her past experiences,” said Bhatt. “I’ve gone on record to say that Udta Punjab is my most difficult film to date because of what it demanded out of me. But, having said that, every film I do is a challenge for me because I like to put myself in a space which is a bit familiar yet, at the same time, something new for me to discover. I know it’s difficult to do that in every film, neither do I expect every film to be different.”
Another thing that both actors hold contradictory opinions on is how easy each of their dialects were to pick up. While Dhawan thought it was an ordeal, Bhatt says it was “just following the dialogue”.
“Shashank clearly mentioned that he didn’t want an accent [from me] because that would look fake and filmy. What was a real challenge language-wise for me was Udta Punjab because it was a completely different dialect,” said Bhatt.
“I mean, being born and brought up in Mumbai, which is a metropolitan city, it was definitely more challenging [to speak the dialect],” said Dhawan, laughing. “But a lot of good research went in, a lot of practise went in and hopefully people will like what they see.”
What they both agree on, however, is the comfort that their friendship provides, both on camera and behind it. With a lot of speculation regarding their relationship since their debut in the 2012 hit Student of the Year, they’ve constantly maintained they just happen to be good friends, much like siblings, because of their off-screen antics.
“Both of us are very much into the character when we are acting. When we are acting we forget we are weird,” said Bhatt. “As it is when you are acting you forget you exist as people — I’m not Alia, he’s not Varun. Yes, easier said than done, but we do that. We both tend to get in and out of character very seamlessly.”
“I can say anything I want to her, and she can say whatever she wants to my face. That openness is there between us, even as artists,” said Dhawan. “I think what makes it easier is that our drive is the same when we approach a scene. We both want to excel in it. So there’s a lot of hard work which goes into the scene, in that sense, and we both equally put in that much effort. That’s why I like working with Alia.”
But has it ever caused an argument or got them into trouble?
“Sometimes, yes, there have been disagreements. Like I said, the character [Badri] has not been easy for me. Shashank has actually taken my finger and walked me through the film,” said Dhawan. “In a lot of instances, when I’ve been kind of confused on what to do, we’ve had a few differences — everyone has — but he’s guided me through. Similarly, Alia as well, you know? But the good thing is we’ve done it as a team. Everyone’s criticism or analysis has been welcomed and I’m glad I got all the direction I did on this character.”
While Dhawan has featured mostly as the young happy-go-lucky romantic guy, with the exception being his intense role in Badlapur, he said it wasn’t a conscious choice to be just the lover boy. Bhatt, on the other hand, has proven her histrionics in varied roles, from the spoilt brat Shanaya in Student of the Year to the troubled Veera in Highway to the abused Mary Jane in Udta Punjab.
“Yes, I try to find something which is different from the last genre,” agreed Bhatt. “It’s an instinct, which comes from inside. I try to do it differently to satisfy my need, not because it’s the right thing to do.”
“Badri is not really a light-hearted role. I mean, yes we put out material that makes you think otherwise, probably,” said Dhawan, speaking of the Badrinath… trailer. “It has the song and dance, and it has its happy moments, but it does have a lot of intense stuff as well, which is kind of pushing it in the love story or the romcom-drama genre. So there’s going to be a lot of new facets that people will see eventually when they see the film. I obviously like doing comedy and humour… but I hope when people see Badri, they will both laugh and cry.”
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Badrinath Ki Dulhania releases in the UAE on March 9.