In your career spanning 10 years, you’ve done an interesting mix of films – from commercial potboilers to offbeat – but in your wildest imagination, did you ever imagine you’d be part of a creature comedy?
I didn’t, but I’ve always wanted to. I was obsessed to be a part of such a film. So finally, when I found something like a wolf, I was thrilled. It is the kind of film that has never been made in the country and never offered to anyone. The fact that Amar Kaushik had this vision and wanted to make a film like this meant a lot. When he offered me the project, I was sold on his narration of a scene. The scene was- Bhaskar (Varun’s character) is sleeping. He has done something in the night, and the doctor asks him, ‘What did you eat last night?’ And Bhaskar says, ‘Prakash’. The doctor asks, ‘What?’ And he immediately replies, ‘No, where did you have dinner with Prakash last night?’ I was zapped. I knew this film was going to be something new and wild and it would offer me an incredible character to play.
In an interview with us, Dinesh Vijan said that he has a lot of faith in you. He further said, ‘The actor you are seeing in Bhediya is Varun 2.0.’ Do you agree with this?
I have full faith in him. It’s a very difficult character to play and I don’t think people will realize it, but they will once they watch the film. A lot of hard work and effort has gone into making this film. I expect people to be blown away with the visual treat they’re in for. Physically, playing this character was so tiring that I used to go back to my room at the end of the day. Some scenes require so much pain and strength to do that it exhausts me. I did a lot of training for the role. For six months I did the Animal Flow workouts and changed my diet… It was hard, but it was so much more fun in the end. I wanted to crack the character and get it just right because it’s unbelievable – a man turning into a wolf – how do you explain that to people? So it was very complicated.
You have often said in your past interviews that we cannot leave the roots of our Indian culture, emotions and our films. With this film, you are going one step further because apparently, the idea of the wolf has emerged from the folklore of Arunachal Pradesh. Do films like these inspire you to delve deeper into the stories buried in our Indian culture and traditions?
To be honest, I didn’t know anything about this story until Amar narrated it to me. Well, that’s the beautiful thing about being an actor, that you don’t have to think of stories, and the producers can come in with their vision, and you can make it your own, and that’s your job. far. I’ve given up trying to find something. I’m open to hearing the director’s point of view and see how it excites me. Now, obviously, if something is related to my traditions and culture, I will be quick to relate to it, because there is an aspect of relatability. But as an artist, I am ready to explore any story that can leave a mark on me. The Bhediya is fictional and supernatural and is rooted in our folklore as well; It excites you because it is a ‘what if’ story.
You are one of those who did comedy early in their career. In fact, you’ve attempted more comedy than most of your contemporaries. You understand the pulse of style. Bhediya blends comedy and horror, how challenging was it?
I love comedy. I love it so much that I make sure there is comedy in every film I do. There is a lot of entertainment for the audience in this film. I am not doing much comedy in this. The situation brings out the humor and makes it more exciting. I play very different parts. As I said, I have almost two parts in the film – one of a man and the other of a wolf. I had my hands full with that and my main job was to make people believe that this change is happening.
You have worked with your Dilwale (2015) co-star Kriti Sanon after seven years. At that time she was new in the industry. What do you think about his growth as an actor in the last seven years?
She has had an amazing journey and has worked really hard. I think she is entering the best phase right now. I think he has great work ahead. Today, she is in a position where she is a star, and there are very few people around, and she is one of them.
When you shoot a film like Bhediya, which is shot amidst nature in Arunachal, does it bring about a certain sense of calm and give you a different perspective of the world around you?
I enjoyed shooting in Arunachal Pradesh. We shot 95 per cent of the film there amidst all the greenery. The jungle you see in the movie is real. It is such a huge and important part of the film and makes the film authentic. When you shoot a film in a location like that, it gives a certain sense of calmness. But after the shoot, when we started promoting the film, that calmness disappeared and chaos ensued (laughs). I miss it so much! We all need to take a break and hopefully I will do that after the release of Bheriya.