Varun Dhawan: The making of a hero

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STEPPING UP: Varun Dhawan in Main Tera Hero
STEPPING UP: Varun Dhawan in Main Tera Hero

Keeping masses happy and the mandarins talking about him is a strategy that's served director David Dhawan's son well. And now he's also talking about going behind the scenes!


Khalid Mohamed

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Published: Thu 23 Mar 2017, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Mar 2017, 1:00 AM

Come April 24, he'll turn 30: just the right age to balance a career between high-profit commercial entertainers and projects which dare to stray away from the Bollywood formula. Smartly, a few days before the release of the romcom Badrinath Ki Dulhania, which paired him with Alia Bhatt once again after Student Of The Year and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Varun Dhawan announced that he has been writing a script which has dark shades, and that he may well direct the project himself. Good luck.
You might think it's much too early for the son of once-prolific director David Dhawan to divert his attention from acting 24x7, but then no pain, no gain, you presume. Incidentally, of his stock of eight films in a career of five years, the only time Varun has chosen to avoid the beaten path, was by portraying a young widower with darker shades of grey in Sriram Raghavan's vendetta movie Badlapur, his most hosannaed performance yet.
For the rest of the way, it's been the mainstream extravaganzas - the least appealing ones being his subordinate role to Shah Rukh Khan in Dilwale and the supposedly comic police officer he essayed in Dishoom, directed by his real-life brother Rohit. As for David Dhawan's Main Tera Hero, it saw Varun striving ever so hard to fill in the shoes of his dad's hero No. 1 Govinda - an act which left the discriminating audience with the feeling of deja vu. Hence the buzz: whoa, are we to expect Varun to turn into a new-age Govinda, melding comedy with disco-dancing skills?
Lately, dad Dhawan has cast him in one of those typical Bollywood dual roles, in the remake of Judwaa (1997), in which Salman Khan had belted out one of his most crowd-pleasing performances. Salman bhai fans aren't exactly pleased though as evidenced by a blizzard of "how-dare-Varun-try-to-do-a-Salman?" trolls on social networking sites. Two decades later, hopefully the script will be sufficiently updated to suit Varun's personality and prevent comparisons with the Khan whose superstardom is currently at its peak.
Be that as it may, with the box-office success of Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Varun is in a happy zone today. The film, directed by Shashank Khaitan, may have left many with mixed feelings, especially because of its visual look which resembled an extended TV serial and the bid to jam in social issues quite unsubtly into the plot. Yet, both Alia and Varun have been praised by the masses and the mandarins alike for taking the story to the next level, thanks to their youthful chemistry which is palpable on screen.
And to think there was a time when today's hot property in the B-town market had contemplated suicide. In the course of a chat a day before the opening of Student Of The Year, I'd caught him in an introspective mood. He had confided that on splitting up with his  girlfriend, whose parents did not approve of a suitor from a film family, he had sunk into a severe state of depression. Drastic thoughts had crossed his mind; he could not sleep for days, and it was his family which helped him return to his usual cheery self.
Today, he is grounded and is back to going steady with the love of his life Natasha Dalal, a celebrated fashion designer in her own right. Varun has consistently refused to discuss his private life with the media. A sensible decision. Similarly, when the grapevine had linked him with Alia Bhatt, he maintained a stoic silence, and the rumours were nipped in the bud.
Here's an actor who knows his heart and mind. The heartbreak and the return to Eden, so to speak, have obviously strengthened him as an actor. In addition, the resolve to convey his versatility by participating in out-of-the-box films is an intelligent move. Akshay Kumar followed this route, somewhat belatedly, and has received a new lease of life with Airlift, Rustom and Jolly LL.B 2. Auspiciously, Varun has realised that it is essential to be versatile instead of being stereotyped in movies that demand that spectators leave their brains at home before buying a ticket at the multiplex.
Here's crossing my fingers that Varun Dhawan means business with his announcement to venture out into areas of 'darkness'. After all, like life itself, cinema has to - intermittently at least - acknowledge the darker side of the moon.

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