Siddharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan at Hotel Tulip Inn on Tuesday. Picture by Rashbehari Das
Who will be the student of the year? We will have to wait till Friday to find out, but the boys vying for the award — debutants Siddharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan — were in town on Tuesday to talk about the Karan Johar campus romance that hits screens on October 19.
Student of the Year releases this Friday. How are the nerves doing?
Siddharth: I keep getting confused ya… one day we are excited when someone comes and says that they loved the trailer and the songs and then we get nervous after a while because of all the pressure. Now that we are promoting the film all over, we are always in the face of the audience which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a big film and there’s a bunch of emotions that is going on in our minds right now.
Everyone’s been talking about the film…
Varun: …Thanks to the promotional machinery at Dharma Productions! We went a month-and-a-half ago to a girls college in Mumbai and there were about 200 girls there. They took a while to get excited because they didn’t recognise Sid and me initially, but once they did, there wasn no stopping them (laughs). From then till now, there has been huge recognition. Now wherever we go, people are ready to dance to The disco song. Of course most are still confused as to who is Varun and who is Sid. They look at me and go ‘Sid, Sid’ and with him it’s like ‘Hi Varun’. Hopefully, people will be able to distinguish between us after they see the film. Alia’s (Bhatt) got it easy because she’s the only girl in the film.
A debut with a Karan Johar production directed by the man himself is huge!
Siddharth: Of course we are so lucky to be doing our first film with Karan Johar… just the gravity and the scale of the production becomes so high when his name gets associated with a project. Both Varun and I were assistant directors on My Name Is Khan and that’s where we met Karan. If we weren’t in that film, Karan wouldn’t have even known about us. To be honest, I was very shocked the day he told us that we were in the film. It was too good to be true. The shoot took some time to start and honestly, I expected SRK (Shah Rukh Khan) to pop in any time and tell us: ‘Move out boys, I am doing the film!’
Varun: Full marks to Karan for keeping it all so simple. He’s always very casual in the way he works, whether it is with Shah Rukh or with newcomers like the three of us. He didn’t even like us calling him Karan Sir.
Siddharth, both Varun and Alia come from film families. Did you ever feel like the outsider?
Siddharth: See, I met him as a fellow AD and not as Varun Dhawan, David Dhawan’s son. We had already broken the ice and we went through the whole grind together on set. The only advantage both Varun and Alia perhaps had, which I didn’t, was to go to their dads (David Dhawan and Mahesh Bhatt) for advice. My parents have no clue about how the industry works… they were shocked when I told them that shooting a two-minute sequence sometimes takes two days! I would feel a little lost sometimes, but Karan was always there to guide me.
Varun, why didn’t you debut with a David Dhawan film?
Varun: Salman Bhai (Khan) had told me very early on that ‘If you want to do something worthwhile in this industry, venture out on your own.’ My father doesn’t come from a film family; he made it big on his own and that’s what he always wanted for me. Even on this film, he only came to set once and that was on the day of the mahurat. My dad and I always connect better as a father and son rather than two people working in films. He will tell me stuff like how I should wake up early, rather than this is what I should do in my films and this is what I shouldn’t do. Whenever I think of working with him, I get a bit scared actually.
Student of the Year has the look and feel of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai...
Siddharth: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was a love story and though many people are assuming that Student of the Year is a love triangle, let me assure you that it isn’t. It’s predominantly about this bunch of friends and how competition spoils the relationship that they share. Honestly, it’s more a bromance between Varun’s and my characters (laughs). Of course, it will take you back to the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai days of a cool campus setup and cool guys and girls. The world in the film is very larger-than-life and grand but the issues that the characters have in the film are very real. Also, KJo has never done sports before… there is a lot of swimming and cycling in the film. I would say SOTY is Kuch Kuch… 15 years later with a twist… younger and cooler.
Varun: Even when it comes to Alia’s character, she is a girl of today who is extremely confident and makes her own choices. She’s not just there for the romance bit or to have the two guys fight over her. She’s also a contestant in the competition, so she has that go-getter streak. It’s a very today’s film and mirrors the youth of today.
How was it pairing up with Alia Bhatt?
Siddharth: Alia is the youngest, but the kind of confidence she came with just shocked us! During the Radha song, she was giving her close-ups and her cues with such confidence and here we were, the two of us, getting all sweaty and nervous.
Varun: We were the heroes on set, but here was this 19-year-old who absolutely killed it. She came in with zero inhibitions and her performance is so unaffected.
Siddharth: She would just behave like a schoolgirl — our reference for how schoolkids behave actually came from Alia!
Will the Sid-Varun friendship get affected if one gets appreciated more than the other when the film releases?
Siddharth: Of course we are prepared for a situation where one of us will be appreciated a little more or a lot more than the other. But this is just our first film and our friendship is for keeps.
Varun: Maybe we won’t even come to that situation because Alia may just walk away with all the applause! (Laughs).