It won't be wrong to call him, 'Sidharth Malhotra 2.0'. Despite his last few films underperforming at the box office, the actor hasn't let the failures deter him from experimenting with films that's quite different from his perceived 'urban boy' image. His upcoming film, 'Marjaavaan' has him playing a larger-than-life hero who mouths some solid dialogue-baazi on the big screen.
In an interview with Filmibeat, the actor opens up about taking up this film, dealing with box-office failures, his constant linkup with co-stars, critics and much more. Excerpts from the conversation.
'Hopefully, I Won't Repeat Those Mistakes...'
Q. It is felt that you have been away from your core audience for some time because if we look at big hit films of yours, they were hard-core masala entertainers...
A. Milap (Zaveri) must have told you this. (laughs) I have heard this before from my director. He says that audience loves me in films like 'Ek Villain', 'Brothers'. I believe, 'der aaye durust aaye'. But I am back and with a bang. Marjaavan has double dhamaka, action and intensity. I genuinely enjoy action. I am not against the genre. In fact, I am a big fan of action films. I think it was the matter of getting the correct script. I met Milap a year ago, before 'Satyamev Jayate' released. I told him that I wanted to do a love story and he was working one. This film happened to have intense action and a very new villain. I was like 'wow' and felt that it was a great script and had enough to be an entertaining film. Milap's dialogues and his treatment to films were also the reasons why I agreed to be a part of this film. We decided to make a love story which had a style of the 70s-80s cinema. We have tried to recreate the larger-than-life aura of those times in our own way. Marjaavan is a very intense love story with that kind of flavour.
Q. You have been part of big, successful films in the past. But when you do a film like 'A Gentleman' or 'Aiyaary' which were good films that failed to perform at the box office, what motivates you to keep going?
A. As a creative person and as a team, you want your films to be accepted, liked and also make money at the box office and that's where experience comes in. I feel you learn so much from a film that doesn't go your way. For me as an outsider, I have learnt much more from my failures. Every film which wasn't in my favour has taught me new things about every department. It has made me realize the importance of having the correct trailer, release-date, music and production. There is no formula to make good movies. I feel I have learnt something from every film of mine. For me as an outsider, it's a great experience because I wouldn't have learnt these things. Hopefully, I won't repeat those mistakes whenever I have a control over a project.
'Every Film Is Challenging And Is About Reinventing Myself'
Q. After seven-eight years in the industry, why do you still call yourself an outsider?
A. I am an outsider in the sense that if I don't go through these films, there's no one else's experience that I can understand or learn from. There's no reference. But if I was well-informed earlier, I would have fought my way and said, 'Don't do this'.
Q. What challenges do you face as an actor?
A. As an actor, every film is challenging and about reinventing myself. I love doing different kind of roles. I wrapped up 'Marjaavaan' and am shooting for 'Shershah' which is a biopic. To reinvent yourself with every film is challenging. I also find that process very fulfilling by the end of it regardless of the way the film is received.
'I Am Not Insecure About Doing Two-hero Films'
Q. Your last film 'Jabariya Jodi' didn't do well at the box office. The film starred you and Parineeti Chopra and people loved you both in 'Hasee Toh Phasee'. On the other hand, you received some good reviews for your performance in 'Jabariya Jodi'. Did you introspect about what went wrong with the film?
A. Definitely. The producers and distributors shifted the release date which I think, wasn't a wise decision. I was not for it. But again trusting that they would know better, I agreed. But it didn't work and we only got six days of free release dates. Then of course, as collectively and creatively, I am sure something must have lacked in the film. But first, I believe a film should have a correct backing by a producer, distributor and everyone as a team. That has been a learning for me. That's the first take-away. It's a learning and I don't want to dwell over the failure for that long. As you see very soon, I am back with another film and it's a new beginning.
Even in every superstar's career, only a handful of films have gone their way completely. The hit to not-so-hit films ratio is uneven. One should keep working and look forward and not let your failures hamper your present choices.
Q. 'Brothers' brought back the concept of two-hero films which was quite prevalent in the 70s and 80s. Now with the success of Hrithik Roshan-Tiger Shroff's 'War', will we see you take up such films as well?
A. Absolutely, I have never shied away from two hero films. I have been a part of ensemble films and even did a film which had Akshay Paaji (Akshay Kumar) as the hero in it. Definitely if there's a script. Me and he keep joking about coming in a different avatar together, maybe a comedy or something else, it would be wonderful. It's just a matter of getting the correct director and story which gives us enough to perform.
I was launched in 'Student Of The Year' and worked in 'Kapoor & Sons', 'Ek Villain'. I have always had actors playing important and good roles in my films. These things don't worry me and I am not insecure about it. Otherwise, I won't have done those films.
Q. But do you agree that people have loved you more when you shared screen space with other actors in these films?
A. In my earlier years, it helped me to up my performances. But I think everyone evolves as an actor. I am still learning. Hopefully in the future, I will be a more evolved performer as well, because that's the whole game. I think you never stop learning in acting. But after a certain age, you do figure out about what you want to do and how you want to portray a character. Right now, I am doing solo films, hoping that they appeal to a larger audience. A film like 'Marjaavaan' and 'Shershah' is built for pan-Indian audience who wants to be entertained. That's one thing that's changed and I want to cater to a larger audience and entertain them.
'When I Do Romantic Roles, People Believe It So Well That They Think Something Is Brewing'
Q. Speaking about changes, now when you attend a film party, do you connect with the people there more or do you still feel like an outsider?
A. Outsider not in the sense that people treat you that way. I meant outsider in the sense of being alien to the business. That's what I was referring to earlier. But as relationships, not at all. I think they are close and friendly people for many years and I have worked with some of them including producers, actors and directors. So yes, now we are like colleagues and there's no discomfort at all.
Q. You are always linked with every actresses that you work with; be it Alia Bhatt, Kiara Advani or Tara Sutaria...
A. (laughs) I think I am partly a method actor. Whenever I do romantic roles, some people believe it so well that they think something is brewing. So when I am spending so much time and doing so convincing as a romantic hero that it trickles away and I think it's a compliment.
'I Want To Surprise The Audience With Roles That I Haven't Done Before'
Q. Siddharth, you have always associated with characters that are stylish, suave and are expected to behave in a certain way. On the other hand, 'Marjaavaan' has your playing someone who is unabashed and mouthing massy dialogues. At any point, did you ever feel that this was a big gamble and you are taking a big risk?
A. Every film has a risk factor. Especially in my career, I have always taken up something which is challenging; be it 'Baar Baar Dekho' or 'A Gentleman' and the same goes with 'Marjaavaan' as well. Because I haven't done something like this before, it's also giving a fresh angle to it. That's what I like. I want to surprise the audience with roles that I haven't done before. I think that's exciting as an actor. To be accepted or not in that, is a different conversation.
But in 'Marjaavaan', I think I have 'jhalaks' of say, 'Ek Villain' and 'Brothers' as well but, we have taken it a notch higher. I had a director who was extremely convinced. So, it is coherent in the way that you will get to watch what you have seen in the trailer. This film is made for a specific cinema-loving audience and we are excited with the kind of response that you have got till now. I am looking forward to see how this risk pans out on November 15.
Q. These days, many actors are choosing to do remakes of South films. Do you have any plans as such as well?
A. They make some really good entertaining films with good concepts. I think we have recently seen the result of one (Kabir Singh). I have seen a few and we are in talks. If something might happen, I will announce it.
'Today, The Audience Isn't Listening Critics'
Q. In 'Marjaavaan', you are reuniting with Riteish Deshmukh after 'Ek Villain'. How was your equation with him this time?
A. I got half of Riteish Deshmukh this time (laughs). Don't get fooled by his size in the film; he's more menacing than the previous one (Ek Villain). Ritesh had a great energy on the sets and after Ek Villain, we had some good will in terms with working with each other. It's very odd to have this pairing with an antagonist. We both, are in different avatars. In Ek Villain, even I was in a bit of grey shade. This time, it's more good versus evil.
To shoot with him for this role, was a bit tedious. Sometimes, he would frame and I couldn't look into his eyes. Instead, I had to look almost at his crotch-level and say the lines (laughs). It was very distracting for a hero to say threatening lines while looking at the crotch. That's how the camera works. Sometimes, he would be on his knees and looking up to me and I would only see lines to the green-screen. So, it was interesting and a good learning experience. I think Riteish is very entertaining in the film. He is a big highlight and people will really like his new avatar.
Q. Lately, it has been observed that many films which were panned by critics, have done well at the box office. What's your take on it?
A. I think to each his own. Today, the audience is not listening to them. I think that trend is changing. The audience can sense a film from day one.
Today, everyone's cell phone has the medium to see a trailer. So, I think very soon, the middlemen thing which the critics used to fill up, will go away because we are giving more extensive trailers and songs. We are really telling them what the film is about and not leaving anything as mystery, be it in our case or any other films' case. So, when the audience watches this content, they already make up their minds regardless of the middle person telling them a yes or a no. I have nothing against critics. But unfortunately or fortunately, that's the trend.
So tomorrow, people might just skip the middle person and come and see the film and give their own ratings They might have one medium where they all click or vote. That would be interesting.