Sidharth Malhotra has a chiselled look and endearing charisma that has smitten thousands over the world.
Being an industry outsider, he has managed to secure his own space and endeavouring stand out amidst the crowd.
Since his SOTY days, the 34-year-old actor has come leaps and bounds as a performer and artist. He has impressed us in movies like Hasee Toh Phasee, Ek Villain, Ittefaq and A Gentleman, to name a few.
Now, Malhotra is set to explore the ‘Masala’ Hindi space, a genre which he is a fan of, as expressed in previous interviews, in Marjaavaan.
In the film, he plays an orphaned boy in a Mumbai slum, amidst the Water mafia who falls in love with a mute girl (Tara Sutaria).
However, after the interference of a vertically challenged gangster, their lives are turned upside down.
The Bollywood handsome hunk himself joins Filme Shilmy for a chat on his upcoming film, career and more.
Having played a gangster and scorned lover in Ek Villain, how did that prepare you for Marjaavaan?
Every character needs preparation and different motivation.
For me, to prepare for Raghu, the motivation had to be love and righteousness that the character has, including the extent he’d go to change things around within the water mafia gang.
We are presenting this film as a much larger-than-life heroic dramatic film, I had to get the look right.
Whether it’s wearing a bandana, growing my hair or increasing my weight to look powerful and strong.
As a team, we wanted to give the audience something more than usual… To take them back to the era of larger-than-life Hindi cinema with romance and action.
This film pays homage to the 90s and typical style of Bollywood action films. What makes these ‘heroic’ roles so appealing to you?
There is still a massive audience within the country which is longing for cinema and movies like this.
It’s great to see content being made in the US and great to have Netflix/Amazon and other platforms.
But you have to realise that in India we are a bit divided between ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’.
‘Bharat’ is the India which is still unaware, rooted and doesn’t have access to all the increasing OTT platforms.
I feel we are not catering to them anymore, they don’t have the cinema where they can fall in love with a make-believe world.
So as new as our love story is, which is between me and a mute girl, the flavour of it is something we grew-up on in Hindi cinema drama.
Recently Kabir Singh came under the scanner for its misrepresentation of machismo and glorification of toxic masculinity. Do you fear a similar reaction towards Marjaavaan?
No. Our film isn’t in a tussle of the girl being unable to defend her or I’m defending her because she can’t.
It’s basically unfortunate circumstances that happen within the love story which leads to something tragic.
This has nothing to do with her being ‘saved’ or ‘me trying to chase her’.
Nowhere else in Hindi cinema you’ve seen a vision of the male counterpart shooting the female love interest.
The Bollywood audience, as viewers, is very emotional.
We are trying to get them on this emotional roller coaster where you see all the characters, go on this emotional journey and do these dramatic things.
You’ll see what they do with it. It’s predominantly a sentimental love story at the core and all the action/drama is happening because of that.
Your character Raghu fights for love. What do you fight for in life?
There’s so much that one sets out to do. For me, in my earlier years, I was fighting to get an entry into Bollywood, where I came from Delhi to Mumbai and gave auditions.
I had a film that I was supposed to start that never took off, then I went back into being an assistant director.
The battle was in those first five years in Mumbai during my early 20s where I was fighting to make space and be given an opportunity.
I still feel that even after becoming an actor (laughs). It’s still the same.
How have you dealt with the failures of some of your recent projects? Does it ever impact your psyche?
I think very early on you realise in your career that you’re competing with today’s audience so they watch your content because there are so many options to watch.
When you have so much competition, my aim is always to provide something new and different.
My film trajectory has always tried to come up with a new film, zone or character.
Some choices have exceeded beyond my expectations like Ek Villain, for example.
That movie was a big risk for both of us – me playing an intense character, Riteish playing a negative character, but it worked for us.
At the same time, there have been some Fridays that haven’t worked for us… That is the unpredictability of this business.
Because I came from Delhi to become an actor, I’ve learnt more from the Fridays that haven’t gone my way.
I actually have a lot of gratitude for that learning. With every film, you learn about one department you faltered in various reasons.
When you reflect on the careers of massive superstars in the country I grew up watching, not all of them can say all their films lived up to expectations.
The trick is to not hold on to your successful or unsuccessful Fridays. You’ve just got to keep working hard and try to entertain the audience in different ways.
I can’t let the fear of my previous film hanker my present project.
You celebrated 7 years in the industry. If the Sidharth Malhotra of today was to look back at the same guy in Student Of The Year, what advice would he give?
I would probably sign more scripts. There was a phase where I was taking it easy and planning to do maybe one or two films a year.
Maybe the more the merrier because I genuinely enjoy it and you learn from every film.
I would’ve told my younger self to utilise time by filling more dates and projects.
If the audience sees something good in an actor, it doesn’t go unnoticed and that’s the reason why I have producers/directors willing to make that leap of faith in me.
They know how much I enjoy doing different things.
It’s only a matter of time because there’s no correct formula for making a film. We all just have to follow our passion and hope for the best.
You have SherShaah post this, which is your first biographical drama. What has been your approach as an actor for this movie?
SherShaah is a film that I’ve been talking of and trying to make for the last 2/2.5 years.
Captain Vikram Batra gave his life for India at the Kargil war and I met his family who helped me with the information.
We finally have a wonderful script together, shooting it with Dharma Productions on board and we’re really excited.
In a way, it’s my passion project. Given that it’s been 2.5 years in the making, we’re almost finishing shoot after Marjaavaan‘s release. It will be coming out next year in summer.
Even though it’s based on a real-life character, it’s far more difficult for us because it wasn’t like he was an incredibly well-known person (in that sense).
People were not so aware of his personality or mannerisms as such because it wasn’t recorded.
His other twin brother (whom I met) also gave a lot of information about him.
Eventually, we have only got an essence of his life, whether it’s his childhood or army life.
It is the first time on a personal level I feel extremely nervous living up to the family’s expectations first.
This is because he is somebody who gave his life 20 years ago and they have such amazing fond memories of this hero.
It’s about living up to their expectations of doing justice to their son is a lot of pressure.
We are hoping to make a product which all can feel proud of.
Listen to the full interview with Sidharth Malhotra here:
The film is directed by Milap Zaveri and releases worldwide on 15th November. It also stars Rakul Preet Singh.