It’s hard to believe that Varun Dhawan, who has made his identity with mainstream cinema, was keen on arthouse subjects. What’s more, he was rejected for Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat (2011).
Dhawan is one of the more popular young stars in Hindi cinema and has built a reputation as a mainstream actor who thrives on romantic comedies.
So it was considered normal when Varun Dhawan made his acting debut with Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year (2012), a romantic campus drama. Star kids often enter Hindi cinema through romantic sagas.
While Varun Dhawan began his journey using the traditional route, it may come as a surprise to many that the actor is fascinated by arthouse cinema. The 31-year-old had failed the audition for Kiran Rao’s critically acclaimed Dhobi Ghat (2011) and harboured dreams of being launched by a filmmaker like Anurag Kashyap.
Varun Dhawan, in fact, had never planned to join cinema. It just happened. As a teenager, he had quite an interesting ambition.
“I initially wanted to own a [TV] channel where I could have my own talk show where I would do stand-up comedy, my own show,” he revealed at an interactive session at the 49th International Film Festival of India in Goa yesterday.
“I was obsessed by Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Govinda, Mehmood sir,” he explained. “All these artistes were good at improvisation. These people were so relatable as you found them around you. There’s always a joker in the pack. I wanted to be that person.”
As a boy, too, Varun never gave any indication to his family that he wanted to be an actor. David Dhawan, too, felt his son would take up a ‘normal’ job.
David, who was part of the session, said, “He never told me I want to become an actor. We thought he would get a job, probably in a bank.”
Varun Dhawan mentioned how he had even gone for a bank job interview.
Dhawan senior was not aware that his son had started assisting Karan Johar. Varun revealed that he had auditioned for Dhobi Ghat, a film that his father would never do in his life.
“I told him, are you mad that you are going to do a Dhobi Ghat? You can’t begin your career with such films,” recalled David.
Varun surprised the gathering by revealing his liking for arthouse cinema.
“Initially, my leaning was always towards the left side,” he said. “I loved Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday (2007), all of Sriram Raghavan’s films. I was almost leaning towards there. I would have given my right hand at that time to be launched by Anurag Kashyap. I was excited to work there. Obviously, no one was taking me seriously then. I auditioned for Dhobi Ghat but didn’t get the part.”
While Dhawan now does mostly mainstream Hindi films, he has received great acclaim as an actor with Sriram Raghavan’s revenge drama Badlapur (2015) and Shoojit Sircar’s emotional drama October (2018).