Sidharth Malhotra: I do believe in the heroism of Mission Majnu and Marjaavaan
The actor talks about his unstable filmography, his current tilt towards action, and why there’s still place for brassy, baldfaced heroism in Hindi cinema
Sidharth Malhotra shrugs off a suggestion that he’s now a settled, well-tested actor. “We live in a dynamic profession where every Friday is different,” he says, judiciously. Nevertheless, Sidharth – whose underwhelming Mission Majnu dropped on Netflix last week – has completed ten years in the film industry, in which time he has played lovers (Hasee Toh Phasee, Baar Baar Dekho), louts (Maarjaavan, Jabadiya Jodi), and legends (Vikram Batra in Shershaah). In a conversation with Cinema Express, Sidharth spoke about his unstable filmography, his current tilt towards action, and why there’s still a place for brassy, baldfaced heroism in mainstream Hindi cinema.
Excerpts from a chat...
You debuted as campus dreamboat Abhimanyu in Student of The Year (2012). In Mission Majnu, you’re an undercover agent in Pakistan. At a craft level, what does 10 years of experience mean to you?
Any actor, be it at any stage, has a different process. I like to try different variations to a scene. You could do 50 takes but it’s only the one that the audience gets to see and which that fits the role and story. Prep time also differs from film to film. I like to prep because you have to be authentic in today’s day and age. I like to sit and chat with my directors or certain professionals from that phase or era. In Mission Majnu, there’s only one scene where I have to work as a tailor. I had this guy come to my house and set up that retro-style sewing machine – the ones operated by foot. There’s a rhythm to those and how you need to put the thread into it, and it comes all the way to the top and it’s a whole system. That’s an intricate body language to gauge.
This was your second streaming release after Shershaah. There’s also Indian Police Force coming up. That’s a sizable OTT presence for an actor who started out in theatrical-minded movies.
I don’t think there’s any difference in whether something is for theatrical or OTT. A film is a film. Shershaah and Mission Majnu were both shot for theatres. The pandemic played a part in how people got to consume these films. Today, if something is entertaining, it’s entertaining. Which is what Shershaah was, and people connected with it, and it’s gotten that love. So I think in any format, or any way, any good film just gets the right audience.
You get a lot of love for Kapoor & Sons (2016). But Hasee Toh Phasee (2014) was an equally interesting project from your early career. It’s also one of the smarter romcoms to be made in Bollywood.
Hasee Toh Phasee was my second film and Vinil (Mathew, director), Parineeti and I had such unique scenes to play with. They gave a real tonality to a romcom, with some quirky and unique situations. In the innocent world of Mumbai, two very odd people come together. But sadly, I feel, the genre of romantic comedies has sobered down over the years because it’s kind of predictable at times. Because you know either they’ll get together or they won’t. And most people like people to come together. So it has become more challenging now to find ways as to explain why two characters will be apart.
Have you put a pause on the urban nice-guy image of yours?
I won’t say pause. I think all these action thriller films also have a soft side, whether it’s the romantic songs in Shershaah or Rab Jaanda in Mission Majnu. It still has that soft humane character but is imagined in a commercial avatar. I think the image you are talking about... it’s just a script away. It’s something that’s definitely going to happen in the future to balance both zones.
Will you ever go back to the Marjaavaan zone or was it a desperate call?
Well... for Marjaavaan, there is a massive audience for a larger-than-life sensibility. Marjaavaan plays completely on heroism which I do believe in. But it is a different tonality of heroism, where Hindi film heroes can do everything. They will fight and go against odds even though my character in the end loses his life. It’s a style of cinema that’s in our roots. It’s the films that we grew up with. So they will always stay. The difference today is how you package and tell these stories for a modern sensibility.
What stage is Indian Police Force at?
We are done. I just wrapped the last leg of the shoot and hopefully, by the end of the year, we will be ready to release it. It’s Rohit Shetty directing a series for the first time and it’s my first time doing a series. It’s got a bit of a commercial Hindi film flavour to it but keeps the tonality of how today’s police officers would be. It’s Rohit’s attempt to bring his brand of movies to streaming.