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Varun Dhawan Gets Unplugged

"I miss going to Shiv Sagar and ordering the masala cheese dosa and watermelon juice,” Varun Dhawan gets candid talking about life, marriage, acting and his favourite Joey.  

Sitting in Lucknow, clad in a green and yellow hoodie, and a baseball cap, the 35-year old actor (who touts a reputation as one of the sub-continent’s highest paid actors) reminisces about a simpler life when it was easy to just go for a vada pao and auto rides without the pressures that are associated with Bollywood stardom—a hard thing to imagine when you consider that he owns a rather swanky car collection, in addition to some incredible bikes. He gets away with it from time-to-time, especially when his mother asks him to run errands.

Varun Dhawan

“My mother once asked me to go buy bread when I was getting ready for an awards night. So I did. I went in my fancy suit to this place called Intop in Juhu and got her the bread. Secretly, I was really happy...I prefer to do this any day, I’ll be honest,” he says endearingly. Perhaps it is the expectations that come from being a Bollywood baby that encourage the Bhediya actor’s preference for a more modest life at times. “The disadvantage of being born into and then having a career in this industry is knowing too much. You stress yourself out with things you are not supposed to know,” he says. “Being a director’s son (who has made 45 films), you are supposed to know about budgeting or marketing or other technical aspects. My dad and Karan [Johar] tell me that I have to be aware of these things and that I need to pitch in at times. But I do not know what to do because I am only an actor, and I do not know why they have these expectations of me.” Varun admits that he does want to graduate to producing eventually. “I want to produce some stories that I believe in with younger directors, newer talent, and with scripts that I am too scared of doing myself,” he says. He further adds that he’s not done exploring his diversity as an actor and claims he likes to take routes less taken by other actors.

“I don’t think many people would do a film like October. As much as I love fast-paced, hard-hitting films, I also like doing a really slow film...I do not know many people who want to be a part of them,” he says, adding that his love for everything cinema is what allows him to explore. Currently off the remakes bandwagon, Varun is focusing on entertainment. “I just feel we are not laughing enough. I want to fill that void in the family entertainment genre, because there hasn’t been a family entertainer film on the Hindi screen since the pandemic,” he says, throwing in the fact that he is manifesting a big action film “as we speak”.

Varun Dhawan

Ambitious as he is about his roles, the Student Of The Year actor is no stranger to the fear of plateauing. But he would rather adopt characters he believes in than sell out for money at this stage. “I have not made easy choices, especially in the two films I am doing right now. I am not playing the smart alec, with a 100 one-liners and body-hugging clothes,“ he says, claiming he inferred from his own personal life for Juggjugg Jeeyo while prepping for Bhediya involved “spending a lot of time with dogs,” he said with a grin. Naturally, the topic shifts to Varun’s own dog, an adorable beagle named Joey, who constantly battles for affection with his wife Natasha Dalal, whom he married over a year ago. “He has taken over my life completely, but I love my wife as well,” he chuckles, refusing to divulge details about the “‘crazy sh*t’ his wife and he get up to in case someone’s mother reads it”.

His other love is his four-year-old niece, who Varun enjoys dancing with. “I have learnt a lot from her,” he says in all seriousness, checking off things like throwing tea parties, making doll houses, and throwing on a shirt as she keeps telling him to cover up. “I am learning all the time, from my mother, my wife, and my niece. One thing my parents have taught me is that there is no substitute for hard work. You have to shut down all the noise at some point and just concentrate on the legacy you want to create,” he says. His aspirations aside, Varun is inherently unpretentious. “At the end of the day, I am an actor. I don’t want to pretend to be more than that and say I am going to do this, and it is going to change people’s lives... I make films that will hopefully impact people positively for a few hours, and they will forget about their problems. For me, that’s the basic gist of doing movies. I don’t think I want to give me or my industry more credit than that at present,” he concludes.