The Bollywood Actor speaks to The Asian Today
Produced by Dharma Productions and Phantom Films, Hasee Toh Phasee, also starring Parineeti Chopra is set to release in UK cinemas on 7th February 2014.
Your second film is co-produced by Karan Johar who directed your first film. Did he offer you Hasee Toh Phasee?
The offer actually came from Phantom Films (Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl and Vikramaditya Motwane). It all started when Phantom Films wanted to co-produce a movie with Dharma Productions and they had enquired about me. From that enquiry, Karan gave me the script of the film and told me to read it and if I like it, we will go further. I read it and being just one film old, I guess you can’t really figure out everything just by reading a script or your instincts aren’t great yet. I have now started meeting the directors when I read scripts which began with Hasee Toh Phasee. The film has a lot of quirky stuff like the heroine eating toothpaste, getting stuck on the love seat up in the air and a lot of other quirky things that audiences will see when they watch the movie. I met the director (Vinil Mathew) and I was sold after meeting him as he is very quirky himself in real life. Vinil has a lot work under his belt as an ad director. I think, just meeting him was the one thing why I did the film.
You can guess from the trailer that it’s a love story where the boy meets the girl and they fall in love. What else is the film all about?
That is correct. You know, films of the rom-com genre are the toughest to promote and market. Of course, every rom-com is different but everyone already knows the ending which is similar for our film (laughs). Hasee Toh Phasee is different in a way because our characters are not how people would imagine them to be. We don’t play the typical hero and heroine. Every family has the not so successful kind of boy and that is my character in the film. He is a very confused boy who doesn’t know what to do in life. He runs an unsuccessful event management company and is pressured by his family to earn a lot of money. Actually, he has to earn a certain amount of money in the film. He thinks he is cool, but he is not. He is one of those confident kinds of guys but still very emotional and correct. My friends from Delhi are like that as they get a lot of pressure about their work. Then my character meets Parineeti, who is also not very popular in her family. She comes to Mumbai and meets my character and that is what the film is all about. It’s a story of how they meet for seven days and how they interact as it’s not love at first sight. It becomes very intriguing as they spend more time together and find out weird things about each other. It is a rom-com but our characters are not what audiences would usually expect from this kind of a film.
Your first co-star Alia Bhatt just said that she is not confident about the fate of her second film at the box office. Are you worried about box office success?
Well, of course, there is that aspect. But what I am more concerned about is pulling off a solo film. I am also hoping for a little appreciation in terms of acting abilities and hope that people feel that I can play variations and characters as it’s very different from Student Of The Year. The money aspect comes in much later. I think, initially you need to focus on making a good quality product. It’s Vinil Mathew’s first feature film who has to prove his directing abilities and my first solo hero film and I have to prove my mettle as an actor. It will hopefully make money but I don’t think we need to stress about it. It’s not the kind of film where we spend extravagant amount of money and need to worry about recovering the costs. My concern is that audiences like my character, the performances and feel that we have done something different and new, yet at the same time convincing.
You sound more confident and less shy from your Student Of The Year days…
Yes, for some odd reason I have been getting this feedback from a lot of people. Maybe I was taking my character too seriously or maybe because of Karan Johar as no one else speaks in front of him and Varun Dhawan (laughs). Hopefully, people will also feel a difference when they see me in Hasee Toh Phasee.
You also look much younger in some scenes…
Yes, I had to become leaner for the film and I may look younger because of the hairstyle. This is actually a film where I am playing a character that is my age, someone in his twenties, unlike Student Of The Year. I guess being leaner and not going to the gym for the film also made me look younger.
Hasee Toh Phasee is quite a fun title.
It’s an apt title because the film is only about the couple. In all honesty, the title isn’t really connected to the film though in terms of the storyline (laughs). It sounds very commercial but the film isn’t really an all-out commercial film and far more muted and subtle in performances. We actually had another title when we started the film and Hasee Toh Phasee was suggested by one of the producers Vikas Bahl.
The music album is being liked but people are really talking about your dance song ‘Shake it like Shammi’ .
Yes, we have three dance tracks and three romantic songs in the film. There is always pressure when performing for dance songs. Shake it like Shammi is almost like a solo song for me. I would also like to clarify that Shake it like Shammi is not a tribute to Shammi Kapoor. People keep writing about it as a tribute because of the ‘Shammi’ in the song. It’s just a lyrical use of the name. The character that I am playing is not that cool that he could shake it like Shammi. It’s his attempt to shake it like Shammi to impress a girl. It’s not like Badtamaez Dil where the guy is cool and can do a full-on item song performance. I think it’s come out in a fun and interesting way. I hope everyone likes it.
During Student Of The Year, Karan Johar said that dancing is something you need to focus on. Did you spend a lot of time rehearsing for Shake it Like Shammi?
Remo D’Souza choreographed the song and was aware of that. We did a lot of rehearsals. Usually we don’t have a lot of time to rehearse. I was filming for something else but was rehearsing over night for five days for the song. It always helps to have more rehearsals as you will be more comfortable with the steps. I was quite conscious of it myself as I personally didn’t like the way I performed on the songs in Student Of The Year. I think, it also comes from the fact that I was never trained in dancing. My training began on the job. I learnt and picked up dancing as I was doing the film. It was tough for Shake It Like Shammi and Remo did make me rehearse a lot. We have some interesting steps and shots and hopefully the song will work with audiences.
What is your definition of love?
It’s odd to sum up love in a few words or sentences. But for me, love is spending time with someone, being understanding of what the other person needs and being secure. I hate somebody being insecure and not giving me space, but then again, I think that is all men (laughs). There should be no pretense to it and can’t have any hidden agendas. To be in love with someone, it has to be an honest relationship and a lot of friendship. If you can have all these things and still enjoy the time you spend with someone, that is love. It also tells you a lot about a person if you go and spend some time alone with somebody. If you can manage to take break while you are dating and go away somewhere where you only have that person to talk to, that tells you a lot about how good your chemistry is.
HASEE TOH PHASEE opens in UK cinemas on 7th February 2014.