After playing a succession of fun, romantic roles in films such as Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya (2014), Main Tera Hero (2014) and Student of the Year (2012), Varun Dhawan turns the tables on typecasting with his intense and edgy portrayal of Raghu in the new drama Badlapur. The film, about a man seeking to avenge the murder of his wife and child, is by Sriram Raghavan (Ek Hasina Thi, 2014; Agent Vinod, 2012; Johnny Gaddar, 2007) – a director with a penchant for brooding protagonists.
In Dubai last week to promote the neo-noir crime drama, Dhawan, his co-star Yami Gautam and the producer Dinesh Vijan talked about the making of the movie and Dhawan’s transformation from cute boy-next-door to vengeful husband.
Dhawan on portraying an intense character
"My role in Badlapur is completely different from the roles I've done before. When you're doing comedy, you keep it very light-hearted, you just play around, it's all spontaneous and fun. In this film, there were a lot of emotions that were required to drive the performance and it was hard dealing with all those emotions. I've never actually been so intense. At times, it was such hard going that sometimes, to a certain point, it really stopped being enjoyable. But I was committed to the role one hundred per cent and gave it all I had. But in real life, I'm a pretty chilled-out person."
Gautam on working with Dhawan
"He really was one of the most chilled-out and coolest guys on the set. He is exactly the way you have seen him on screen in films like Student of the Year. There is nothing pretentious about him. And he's definitely nothing like the character he plays in Badlapur."
Dhawan on his chemistry with Gautam
“We got pretty close. Yami is so cool, and we used to joke around with each other a lot while shooting. This jovial relationship on-set was very important because it was such an intense film and such an intense character. We had to do what we could to keep our spirits up. One of the incidents I remember – in fact, one of the most memorable incidents for me – was when we were travelling between shooting and it was my birthday. We stopped at a dhaba [street-food stall] and stuffed ourselves with some really good Maharashtrian food. I also ended up cutting my birthday cake there.”
Vijan on Dhawan’s dedication to his role
“I was on set and Varun was working on a shot where he was hammering away. He was screaming and totally in character, and at that point in time, I found Varun so deeply connected to the role that I got scared. This film shows Varun in an avatar never seen before.”
On director Raghavan
Dhawan: "This is the first time I have worked with Raghavan. He has brought out in me what I didn't even know I had in me. I play a father for the first time. I play a 40-year-old. I play such an intense character. For this alone, the film is worth a watch."
Vijan: "Sriram is a truly unique filmmaker – sometimes to the point of being crazy. Through Varun he has channelled some of his best work in an amazing way. This film is unadulterated Sriram Raghavan and it is a must-watch."
Gautam: "From the director of the film to the actors, we've had the finest people working on the film. So that definitely makes it worth a watch."
• Badlapur opens in cinemas on Thursday, February 19