Malhotra shot to fame early in his life after hosting Disney Hour Zee TV in 1995, and gained further popularity with Hip Hip Hurray (a television series about high school students) in 1998. He made his film debut with Ken Ghosh’s Ishq Vishk and went on to act in films like Salaam-E-Ishq, Kaal, Dor, Kismat Konnection, Jannat and Naqaa.
On being asked the reason for his absence from the big screen for so long, he said that it was a conscious decision for him to try and break away from his on-screen image. “Over the last 18 years of my career, I have had the great fortune of working with a lot of big banners and doing a lot of stuff on television. But at a certain time what happened was that I got stuck in a rut and I got very badly typecast. So it was getting to a place where I was getting the same kind of roles... It was very unfortunate that there were only certain types of roles that were being offered, so, at some time you stop getting flattered by it and think about what is happening. So I made a conscious decision and for four-and-a-half years I just sat and waited, and in the meantime, I started approaching people to say that give me something new even if it is two scenes in a movie.”
Malhotra added, “But still people kept offering me the same thing. The biggest banners kept giving me the same kind of roles so I decided to wait and Tu Hai Mera Sunday came my way.”
Talking about his role in the movie, the actor said that the whole challenge around the role was that he did not identify with it so it would also shock the audience to see him play the role of Dominic (a Catholic Christian guy who wanted to become a musician but then all of a sudden has to take up the family responsibilities and with time gets stuck with those).
“Over the last 18 years of my career, I have had the great fortune of working with a lot of big banners and doing a lot of stuff on television. But at a certain time what happened was that I got stuck in a rut and I got very badly typecast.”
On being asked why he never turned to TV during that time, he said, “Sometimes you have to disappear to reappear in your life. I did TV but not consistently because ultimately I wanted to work in films. And I’m so grateful because in this day and age people come and don’t even manage to stay for six months but I have somehow managed to be here and hope to continue.”
“At present, here is so much clutter that the quality has also dropped a lot. Today some people think that if you look a certain way you should become an actor or just make six packs and become an actor. I’m not trying to demean anybody, of course. All this is required, but one also requires much more. Earlier, there used to be films and a few channels and then all of a sudden TV was bombarded and films already got affected. And now there are channels on the Internet as well, like Netflix. Also, they need to make so much content that quality has been lost in meeting the volume,” he added.
Malhotra said he hopes people become more open to casting him in interesting roles rather than typecasting him. “I would love to do masala films and also the kind of work Rajkummar Rao is doing or the kind of work that Ayushmann Khurrana is doing. I feel I will fit into that genre very easily.
“I started when I was just 18 and after the success of Hip Hip Hurray, the work just started coming in and at that point I was so overwhelmed and did not have the time to think because at that time you are enjoying your life, enjoying the popularity, the attention and the biggest producers and directors are calling you up and complimenting you. At that time I was just doing my work and not thinking much. It is later that you think, okay, let’s step back now,” he explained.
Sharing his thoughts on reports of Hip Hip Hurray reboot, the actor said, “You cannot repeat these things. I hope they create magic in their own way but the perspective of the audience today is very different from that of 15 years ago. Our country has never been so much developed and with such a fast pace as seen in the last one decade, how can you bring in that 15-year-old content and expect people will identify with it just because of nostalgia. I’m not criticising it but what I’m saying is that look you have unlimited resources, the best of everything so make some fresh content.”