When I meet Sidharth Malhotra at a suburban hotel, the actor is amidst a busy promotional schedule for his upcoming film. He looks a tad tired. But that doesn't dampen his enthusiasm to strike a quick tête-à-tête with us.
A confetti-packed debut in 2012 and six years down the lane, he's one of the most hottest names in Bollywood who enjoys an envious number of female fan-following.
Over to Sidharth...
'I Don't Come From A Film Family Or Grew Up Watching How Actors Pick Their Films'
Q. Over the years, we have noticed that your choices of films have become more defined irrespective of their box office fate; be it Kapoor & Sons, Baar Baar Dekho or Ittefaq. What has brought about that change in you?
A. I wouldn't say there's a change but it's just a different background that I come from. I don't come from a film family or grew up watching how actors pick their films. I have my own sensibility and instinct. I am among the younger and newer generation of actors in the industry and feel it's my responsibility to give the audience something new with a twist or at least try. Some may work, some may not. That's the attitude that comes inherently with not being from the film industry.
Q. You had once mentioned about how you like to involve yourself in the screenplay aspect of film-making when you are working on a film. Did that happen with Aiyaary too?
A. It depends on every director. I think that applies more to first-time directors with whom I have worked with. I have worked in a certain amount of films. So, you put your experience up forward and whether they want to take it is up to them.
In case of Aiyaary, there was no question about doing that so. Neeraj Pandey is somebody who is known especially for his stories and screenplays. I am a big fan of his film 'Wednesday' which didn't even have a single filler scene.
'Aiyaary Is My Most Relevant And Real Film'
Q. Your co-star Manoj Bajpayee said that Aiyaary is going to be his career best performance. Do you echo a similar sentiment with your act in the film?
A. I am hoping. I feel that every film of mine is a career best film (laughs) But well, that's for the audience to decide. I genuinely feel Aiyaary is my most relevant and real film. First of all it's a spy thriller and then in that, it touches upon so many subjects which are so relevant to us in this country. That makes it a very interesting watch. You won't find anything fake. We ain't putting up anything just for the sake of glamour quotient or the commercial aspect.
'Today I Have A Better Understanding Of The Relationships In The Industry'
Q. In one of your early interviews, you had spoken about how it wasn't easy for you to connect with the film industry because you approached everything from a realistic point of view as a non-film guy. Have things changed for you over the years?
A. I think the industry hasn't changed but it's me who has changed. (laughs) One of us had to. I am more aware now and have a better understanding of the relationships in the industry and how the work functions here. That's exactly what growth means. Especially for me because I have no other reference in my head or within my family and friend circle. So, I had to experience everything firsthand. Only when you experience a certain things, you learn and understand and get your method.
Over the years, I have been trying to develop a instinct and work by whether it's about picking the director or story. I have learnt to stick to my own instinct and make my own decisions.
'I Have Never Done Any Film Under Pressure'
Q. Considering that you have been in the industry for a fair amount of time and have built relationships here from the scratch, does it become difficult for you to say a 'No' to a film without offending the other person?
A. No, I think that's one advantage which I have for not being from the film industry. You don't feel obliged by certain relationships to say 'Yes' to a film. I have never done any film under pressure.
'Everything Is Heightened; Whether It's About Two Films Releasing Simultaneously Or A Film Changing Its Date'
Q. Box office clashes ain't a new thing in Bollywood. It has been very much prevalent in the industry for years. However in the recent times, it has become too hyped with everyone making it a talking point. Why do you think this has happened?
A. (takes a deep breath) It's because of social media, awareness, websites and media in general. Every information is available. Sometimes, even box-office is not so well-known. People ain't aware; they watched a film for a film. They didn't judge it on the amount or number which it made on a Friday. Just like how that's changed, everything is heightened. Whether it's about two films releasing simultaneously or a film changing its date! The marketing strategies have changed. With times, things have changed whether for the better or the worse, we don't know.
We are currently living in times where everything is highlighted and is available for everyone to see. That's just the current situation. I wouldn't say if it's good or bad. (pauses) One thing I would say is that people should watch the films for the films that they are and not depend on certain media information or websites or other things to influence their decision making. That's more important.
'I Have Always Tried To Put Content First Before My Role'
Q. Considering that the content today is a driving force for the audience, does that add a certain amount of pressure on the actor when he/she is signing a film?
A. There's always a pressure on the actor when he is signing a film in today's day and age. I have always tried to put content first before my role or anything else. The kind of films that I have done, be it ensemble or different genre, I have always followed that norm. There's an added pressure with the change that the country and the audience is going through in terms of their interest. It's up to us whether we choose to cater to that or not. There are so many different kinds of films being made today. The lines between parallel and commercial cinema have blurred. It's purely up to us as to what pressure we have to take. The pressures are both ways.
'Experiences Are Making Me Only Better'
Q. Lastly, from a quintessential outsider to six years of Sidharth Malhotra in the industry, how would you define your journey?
A. It's just the beginning. As I said before, everything is happening first hand. So, I think these experiences are making me only better. It's a gradual progression of every kind of understanding whether it's on-camera or off-camera. Eventually, I am developing my own instinct which I am far relaxed to hear about...which I think I didn't have in the beginning when it came to having an instinct on scripts and directors.