Sidharth Malhotra: Want to play a desi superhero soon
The actor talks about Marjaavaan, his love for masala movies, and why his heroines tend to die whenever Riteish Deshmukh is the villain
Sidharth Malhotra is ready to throw a punch. In Marjaavaan, the actor essays a bandana-sporting street thug who falls in love with a speech-impaired girl (Tara Sutaria). As their romance clicks off to a fiery start, so does the accompanying violence, as Sidharth brawls with swarms of enemy goons lorded over by a murderous dwarf (Riteish Deshmukh). Directed by Milap Milan Zaveri, Marjaavaan is a throwback to the masala action films of the 80s. It’s also Sidharth’s second film with Riteish, after their blockbuster duelling in 2011’s Ek Villain.
In this chat, Sidharth talks about his love for masala movies, the recreation trend in Bollywood, and why heroines tend to die whenever Riteish Deshmukh is playing his villain.
You’ve done action before but never at this pitch.
I’m returning to the action space after three-four films. The last one was A Gentleman. I’ve become more skilled at beating up people, pulling up tankers, and breaking helmets. Marjaavaan is an intense love story at its heart, but the treatment gives it a 70s and 80s vibe.
Is it tough to pull off the ‘Angry Young Man’ persona in contemporary times?
You need more conviction from an actor’s point of view. It’s all about the attitude and the personality to stand on screen and bring out the anger and style. I’ve been a fan of Amitabh Bachchan, Sunny Deol, and Sanjay Dutt. So that helps me believe in this kind of cinema. I feel Indian audiences love the journey these films take them through.
After Ek Villain, Riteish is back again as your antagonist in Marjaavaan.
Whenever Riteish comes in my love story, the girl dies. He is the main reason (laughs). I’ve never had this kind of pairing with anyone. In Marjaavaan, he has a refreshing avatar — that of a vertically-challenged man with a menacing presence. While shooting, it was a tedious process since we had to use green screens. Sometimes, I would be staring at his crotch and talking since our eye-lines had to match. At other times, I would be speaking to thin air. But when you see the final product it looks nice.
There are several religious and mythological references in the trailer. Is that a running track?
There’s no religious conflict between me and Riteish. Our conflict is of power and what happens in the love story. It’s incidental that those lines are there in the trailer. If you see the second trailer, it accentuates the romantic angle in the film. The film is really about two lovers — one has to kill the other, and you have to figure out why.
What are your thoughts on Marjaavaan’s music and the recreation trend in Bollywood?
My favourites are the two love songs in the film. Tum Hi Aana came out much before and it’s been widely appreciated. But I’m rooting for the underdog track, Thodi Jagah.
As for recreations, Milap’s previous film (Satyameva Jayate) had Dilbar. It was a recreation but it helped the film. If a song is popular and is being played everywhere, it has done its job from a producer’s and creative point of view. Now that’s a separate thing for the composers to decide if they prefer to make original songs or not. Not every recreated song is a hit.
You are portraying war hero Captain Vikram Batra in your next, Shershaah. How challenging was the part?
That film has its own set of difficulties. I’m playing someone real for the first time. I visited Captain Batra’s house. The film is set in the 90s during the Kargil War. He had a twin brother so I’m playing that part too. I’ve been trying to get Shershaah made for the past two-and-a-half years. Finally, me and producer Shabbir Boxwala took the script to Dharma Productions and got it rolling. We still have some shooting left at the moment.
Is there a new genre or character you’ve been wanting to explore?
A superhero character. India doesn’t have its own desi superhero yet. I feel there's a lot of potential in the genre. The West is doing it so well. Of course, it has to be something new and indigenous. Otherwise, we’ll just end up emulating Superman, so what’s the point?