Siddharth Malhotra
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Sidharth: The Delhi boy is alive & kicking..

By HT

He is getting rave reviews for a strong outing in his latest release, Ittefaq. And coincidentally, it’s all happening in 2017 when Sidharth Malhotra completes five years in Bollywood. 
 
Although his two films, Baar Baar Dekho and A Gentleman didn’t do well at the box office, Sidharth is “excited” about Ittefaq’s success, especially since it wasn’t promoted like a usual Hindi film. “I was feeling a bit guilty. I was wondering whether we are doing the right thing or not. Now, in hindsight, I feel it was a great decision,” says Sidharth, laughing, as he talks about life, career, link-up and break-up rumours and more.
 
This is your fifth year in the industry (he debuted with Student of The Year; 2012). How has the journey been till now?
 
As we can see, there have been lots of ups-and-downs. Though I don’t feel I have been here for that long, I think a lot of maturity has come in. I am still a young actor who is still learning. That process is not over. There is so much to absorb, understand and use. I feel now is the beginning for me. With Ittefaq, I have learnt to try something different. So I am in that early phase of maturing. The struggling Delhi boy in me is still not out (smiles), so I still have the hunger and anxiety to keep challenging [myself] and try new things. I don’t look at five years as a benchmark at all. I feel the journey is still very long, and this is just the beginning.
 
So, the Delhi boy in you is still alive and kicking…
 
Absolutely! The boy from Bhagat Singh College and Defence Colony is still there. I feel now is the time for him to get into movies, especially since people have not seen that side of mine. It is a very interesting phase and I can use that facets and aspects of my life into performances. But I don’t feel that I have arrived at all. Five years may be a landmark, but in terms of films and legacy, it is not. Hopefully, ten years from now, I will have a legacy.
 
Your new film, Ittefaq is getting great reviews and has done well commercially too. You must be relieved after your last two films didn’t do well?
 
As an actor, it feels very satisfying, and more so because the film is unique and we didn’t even promote it since we wanted the film to speak for itself. It was a big risk because we didn’t glamourise it to make a commercial film and attract people – so there’s no love story, no song-and-dance sequences; no breath-taking location or action. There is nothing to attract audiences barring the story and performances. When such a film does well, it’s very satisfying for the entire team, including the first time director (Abhay Chopra), who has done a great job.
 
But weren’t you apprehensive at all about picking up such a grey/negative part?
 
The reason why I picked up this part was to challenge myself as a performer and to convince people that I can play characters with grey shades; though towards the end, my character displays negative shades too. This time, no star power was on display. When your performance gets appreciated, it’s the best reward that an actor can get at this stage of his career. Now, it won’t be like,’ oh, this guy does only one kind of roles.’ So the lesser restrictions the more people you can cater to. So overall it feels good that this time people are coming to watch the film for the craft and not for anything else.
 
When your last two projects failed to live up to the expectations, did it scare you, especially since you are an ‘outsider’ and have no direct reference of failures among your family and friends?
 
More than being scary, it challenges you mentally to keep your focus and your morale high. It is important because anyways, so much chatter happens in a negative way. I feel me not being from the industry has helped me because I have had a different journey. I have faced my fair share of rejections and have gone through my share of struggles and obstacles. I don’t think it’s new for me to not get something that I want or to taste failure but of course, I did not see it in this scale because I hadn’t had a bad run like this before. But it was mentally challenging, and the only answer to it was my performance. Experiencing that (setbacks) does not trouble me but it was new for me. Maybe, in the next year or so, we will laugh it off (laughs).
 
In Bollywood, usually, actors tend to be largely written off after back-to-back unsuccessful films. In that sense, how satisfying is the success of Ittefaq?
 
I think it makes you stronger, gives you a sense of self and confidence to stand on your own feet and [focus on] your own performances. Eventually, there are hundreds of people who want to take your place. There are also people who are eager to write you off because unfortunately, this is how the environment [in the film industry] is. Today people like spreading negativity than come up with encouragement or positivity. I think the only way you can stand your ground is by doing your job well. A film doing well is the only thing you can take strength from.
 
But even after two unsuccessful films, weren’t you enticed to go for the tried-and-tested formula (of romantic films or rom-coms)?
 
I didn’t want to go the predictable way. If I was predictable, I would not have made it in Mumbai in the first place. I would have been doing MBA somewhere in Delhi; something that a majority of kids were doing in Delhi at that time. It was important to pick something far more challenging and difficult and do well in it. I always knew it will give me a sense of confidence. That’s why I did not go to a ‘safer’ film. It’s not like I have only come here to sing and dance. Also, I believe in content, and its coincidence that I got this film at a time when I was going through a tough phase.
 
But in hindsight, a strong performance and a challenging part can go a long way vis-à-vis the kind of offers you get. Agree?
 
Yes, if I am given an ‘odd’ role and if I can pull it off, then it opens the door for me to do a variety of parts. Now, I have a new-found interest for this kind of performances; and, in fact, I was hungry on the set to get into emotional or the climax scenes. I believe business will come and it’s not in anybody’s control. What you can control in your performance and that’s what I tried to do in Ittefaq and I am happy. I have been getting a lot of encouraging positive messages.
 
After five years in the industry, are you at complete ease with it?
 
Yes, in that sense, five years has helped. The industry is a bit more comfortable and I feel a bit more at home here as opposed to feeling alien (laughs). For instance, over the years, the relationships that I have built with directors, producers and actors have become slightly older and mature.
 
So, you don’t feel awkward anymore at a Bollywood party?
 
Not at all. Now, I go to parties because I know the host really well and everybody else too, so things have warmed up really well. I have more relationships to maintain and sustain now as opposed to when I was an outsider.
 
Your next is Aiyaary with Neeraj Pandey. Kicked about that?
 
I love Neeraj as a director. His ideas are always socially relevant with a thrill element to it. With this film, he is going back to that zone. I am very excited to play an army man for the first time. I also come from an army background since my grandfather was in the army and though my dad thinks he is in the army but he is in merchant navy (laughs). Dad was very happy when I showed him my pictures in the uniform. I hope he likes the film. It’s an interesting, relevant thriller drama.
 
Also, you are going to play Captain Vikram Batra in one of your forthcoming films…
 
Yes, that’s another special film. It is still at a very early stage of writing. The family had approached me to play him, who is sadly no more. It is a very inspiring and true story. It was the first time that I got touched by a story like this, especially seeing this kind of personality and getting to know what they did during the Kargil war. I reacted very emotionally.
 
Are you excited or anxious about starting the film?
 
The only reason I am not starting it right now is because I want to put in the right amount of preparation for it. As soon as I am happy with the script, we will start shooting. Everyone - at least within the army - knows who Vikram Batra is, and that’s why I feel the extra bit of pressure to give him the right amount of respect and show the story and his character in the right light. But still, it’s a film so we have to also make it in an entertaining and engaging manner, which is inspiring as well as thrilling.
 
Of late, you have been linked with a number of films including Sadak sequel and Aashiqui 3. Are they in the pipeline?
 
Out of these two, only I have heard about Aashiqui 3. Everything else is just hearsay. Sometimes, the team – including the producers, director and actors – becomes busy with other work, and Aashiqui 3 is a case in point. That’s why the project took a back-seat. But that’s something which is officially on the table and we had a meeting on it. I hope that we all put our energies back in the project soon. Apart from that, everything else is false.
 
Sidharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt have reportedly been dating for a while now.
Of late, rumours have been rife about you having ‘rekindled’ your relationship with Alia Bhatt after a supposed break-up.
 
I think people read too much into a picture, in which we might have entered or exited from a party. We used to be clicked before and the same happens even now. I think in between, if we didn’t meet, people thought there must be something wrong. People have seen us together in two films but I think when they did not see us [together] for some time, they started raising questions about rekindling and such things, but there is nothing to clarify, accept or deny. We have great regard for each other. There is nothing much into it to read.
 
So, as they say, ‘all’s well’…
 
Yes, everything is fine and there is nothing to be not okay or read too much into it. I think it’s a phase where we really need to concentrate on our work. I hope people talk about Ittefaq more than I being clicked with Alia.
 
In the last few months, stories were floating about link-ups between Jacqueline Fernandez and you; and Alia not being happy…
 
I think when an actor is seen another person, too much is read into it, and that is not fair to any of the parties involved. I was promoting a film with Jacqueline, who was the lead heroine. Alia was travelling at that time. I don’t think she could even see A Gentleman. So there is nothing to explain. A picture can say a thousand words but maybe not the correct ones (laughs). We meet so many people with whom we get connected and work with; and that’s how we form different kind of relationships. Out of that, some relationships carry on regardless of work and that’s how it has always been.
 
Alia has always said that you will always be a special person in her life. Is the feeling mutual?
 
Absolutely! I think we have immense amount of regard and emotions for each other. That will not change regardless of whether we are clicked [together] or not. That does not change the relationship, respect and the mutual admiration we have for each other. That will remain and you can’t change those feelings.