Varun Dhawan is on a roll. Just a day after the teaser of his upcoming film Badrinath Ki Dulhania, co-starring Alia Bhatt, was released with his fans enthusing over the first look, Varun returned to the sets of his second project this year — Judwaa 2 — and kicked off the film’s shooting with a high energy Ganapati song and dance number.
The actor, who has given seven back-to-back hits in his four-year career, will step into Salman Khan’s shoes for the sequel of the 1997 blockbuster, Judwaa. But he isn’t thinking about the comparisons that will be made between him and the huge star. I am not even thinking about it, it’s you guys who keep reminding me about it. As an actor I do films to entertain the audience. I never think about what I will gain from its success…if it will raise my status as an actor in the number game, or if my price will increase or if I will bag an advertising campaign. Eventually, I want people to enter theatres and enjoy watching both the characters, Raja and Prem, said Varun, who, along with the film’s producer, Sajid Nadiadwala and his director-father David Dhawan was celebrating 20 years of the laugh riot that also starred Karisma Kapoor and Rambha. Judwaa was released on 7 February 1997.
After being called the Govinda of the young lot, Varun has often been compared to Salman. It’s unfair to him (Salman) if they compare me to him. I am trying to be myself, and Judwaa 2 is a great opportunity because for the first time, I am playing a double role. Playing a double role for any actor is difficult, and I am just going to put my head down and try to create two characters which are entertaining that people care for. Raja and Prem are going to be two fresh characters.
In an earlier interview, Varun had talked about the ludicrousness of comparing a seven-film-old actor with a superstar: Whoever is comparing us is wrong. They should be like, ‘Yeh bachcha hai aur Salman superstar hai (He is a kid and Salman is a superstar)’. Actually, it was Salman bhai who laughed, and told me, ‘You better act properly because they will compare you to me’.
Varun told Firstpost that before he started shooting for Judwaa reboot (directed once again by his father David Dhawan), he did speak to Salman; Varun says he didn’t want to disappoint the original Judwaa star.
We have all spoken with him; it’s a personal thing. His blessings are always there (with the project), Varun told us. I don’t want to disappoint him (Salman), and the audience. With Salman and Karisma Kapoor both expressing an interest in being part of the project in some capacity, Varun is excited at the possibility of sharing screen space with them. (Salman and Karisma won’t have full-fledged role, but special appearances.)
I hope I get to share screen space with Salman. It has not happened so far, said Varun, narrating an anecdote from before the film’s shoot: Salman sent home a carton full of jeans saying they would go well with Raja’s character. I am planning to use those in the film. Two of the popular songs from the original — ‘Oonchi hai building’ and ‘Tan Tana Tan’ — are being retained, although several changes have been made to the script by David Dhawan.
Incidentally, Salman felt his double role in 2015’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (PRDP) was better than his 1997 turn in Judwaa. A huge improvement after Judwaa was how Salman had described his PRDP performance to this writer after the Sooraj Barjatya film released. While working on Judwaa, I realised there was no difference between Raja and Prem. The only difference was the hairstyle: one character had a centre-parting while the other had a side parting. Eventually, I had started wearing the same shoes and pants for both the roles as I didn’t want to put too much of effort into it, he had said.
Salman had also said that doing some of the dance steps in Judwaa was challenging for him since he had worked on Barjatya’s Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! just a little before Judwaa and that film had its own style of dance choreography. Before Judwaa I had done HAHK and I was not able to come out of that character. There was one step that I could just not get it right and I was stuck in that HAHK style.
However, David Dhawan, who has directed Salman in about a dozen films, felt the actor was being modest. There is only one Salman Khan, there is no replacement. My son is also an actor but I can say that Salman is something else. He is the most unpredictable actor I have worked with. On the sets you will feel that he is disinterested and that he is sitting idle, but once the camera rolls, you realise that he has done a lot of thinking, said Dhawan senior.
Meanwhile, reminiscing over the making of Judwaa, Sajid Nadiadwala said, Varun was seven years old then and we kick-started our shooting with the song, ‘Chalti hai kya nau se baara’. Those days Eid or Christmas were not considered big dates for a film’s release but we took the risk and released Judwaa on Eid, on 7 February. It was a solo release and for the first time Salman was playing a double role. Also, I was collaborating with David Dhawan for the first time. We were not expecting much from the film but were surprised with the response.
About Judwaa’s release and the audience’s response to it, David said, The day the film released, I got a call from a film distributor from Raipur at 6 am. He said that the number of people sitting inside were equal to people standing outside the theatre. The mill workers who worked the night shift had come to watch the film before they went back to their homes in the morning. It was a tremendous reaction. Adds Sajid with a laugh, There was no expectation as such because I had never had a hit before Judwaa. So when Davidji called and said that the number of people sitting inside were equal to people standing outside, I didn’t quite understand why people were waiting outside the theatre!
Varun too, has some distinct memories around the release of Judwaa. I remember when I went for the trial show, Salman was standing outside in his shorts and ganji and I called him ‘Salman uncle’. He got very upset and said,I will slap you. Call me Bhai. He also said that,If you call me uncle then I will not allow you inside the theatre. I don’t care even if it’s your dad’s film’. And from then on, I started calling him Bhai, Varun told us, laughing.
David Dhawan may be known for his comedies, but Varun’s favourite film from his father’s repertoire is the family drama Swarg. People know him for his comedies, but he treats emotional scenes really well. Even in Judwaa 2 there are few emotional moments between the two brothers, said Varun, adding, It’s a coincidence that after I started shooting for the sequel, I have been meeting real twins. It’s so amazing to see the bond between them and that is something I am going to take from real life and put in the film.