So Varun, not many know how were your growing up years. The common adage is that filmy kids come with a silver spoon in mouth.
In my case it was parathe and makkhan, it didn't matter whether it came straight into my mouth or on the silverware (smiles)! I have grown up in this pakki Punjabi family where we ate, celebrated and made merry. Logon ka aana jaana laga rehta hai and I remember many a conversation that we used to have in the living room with family members and relatives around. There was nothing filmy whatsoever about us. My only indulgence was to have a personal room and that too came my way when I was reasonably grown up.
How has been your relationship with Mr. David Dhawan. Since he was busy making movies during your growing up years, were there too many interactions?
He did manage to find time for me and Rohit even though he was ultra busy. His main piece of advice was to treat everyone equally, be it at home or on the sets. If you look at his journey over the years, he has been very close to the assistant directors and technicians. There is a reason behind that. He too was an editor to begin with before he turned director. He used to tell us that we could be a fabulous actor or a director but till the time we didn't respect a technician, our work won't look best on screen. Unhone hamesha kaha ki kabhi bhi apne aapko sets par hero dikhaane ki koshish mat karo warna bahaut padhegi (smiles).
Leave aside being a hero, you actually decided to turn an assistant director yourself for Karan Johar in My Name Is Khan. Why such a move?
Bachpan se hi sab practically seekha hai and I felt that it would be good if I get 'jhaadofied' in the beginning years itself (smiles). Hero ka glam-shlam ek taraf hai but I rather wanted to see other aspects of a film's making as well.
Still, how much do you think assisting a director helps when you have to actually make your debut as an actor?
There is no direct correlation but then there are a lot of other advantages too. You should become an assistant for sure if you have to become a director. As an actor, I liked that process since quite a few things were imbibed in my mind. I took full advantage of the entire learning process. Imagine seeing actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol so much up, close and personal.
I am very clear about such things actually but know one thing for sure; tomorrow even if my girlfriend runs away, I can't afford to be sensitive. For those 15 seconds when the camera is on, I have to play my character without thinking what the world feels about me. I have to live up to the kind of expectations that audience have from me. They want to be entertained and again it doesn't matter to them whether I got this break easily or with much difficulty.
Guess you have found a way to fight detractors.
I have prepared formally as well! Barry (John) sir has trained me for theatre and the biggest high has been to see people clap when you do a scene right. Moreover, the power of art is such that it can turn cynics into friends. I am not going to give people any speech and defend myself. I am only relying on my acting skills; that's it!
But scares must still be there. After all, a debut can't get huger than this.
Yes, but then in a way the scare factor too goes up. Reason being that all eyes are on you to perform. I had prepared myself for the part. I had never thought that Karan Johar would launch me. Leave aside him launching me; I had never even imagined working with him in my lifetime. It was during my earlier years of finding my way into Hindi films when one of my aunt's words reverberated in my mind. She is a Buddhist and told me that if you really want something, ask for it with a clean heart and you would get it. Guess that did indeed pay off for me.