Q. We just saw the launch of your second promotional song of the film October. It’s the third actually if we count the October theme. Tell us something about this track “Jab Bhi Tu”. As the tag line of the film says, “It’s not a love story, but it’s a film about love.”
Varun Dhawan: Most of the song has been shot in Manali and I was in love with Manali. There was this little dog called Hippo whom I would just run behind during the whole shoot. I am so happy that Shoojit included this dog in the film. He was there and I was running behind the dog throughout. So, when there was this introspective scene where I was sitting and thinking about something, and I was a little sad…this dog actually came and he sat down near me, probably he sensed what I was feeling and he just came and calmly sat there.
Shoojit Sircar: It is very difficult to explain. You can only experience and feel what love is. You can say [this film] is my take on love. October is a film where you can see what I feel about love. What I have experienced about love or what love should be ideally, possibly. I am not an expert but it’s my subjective point of view which Juhi has written beautifully like poetry. When I first read and drafted the film, I told her what a beautiful thing she had written, and then I just put it across on the screen.
Q. We all know that the screenwriter Juhi Chaturvedi’s name appears in the film’s trailer. You don’t get that too often in film trailers. Tell us about that.
Shoojit: Yes, I did that because writers are the backbone and the spine of a film. I think they deserve it and they should get the credit. Possibly, this is the first time that a writer got credit on the trailer. But nevertheless, this trend should be there because a writer contributes absolutely as much as a director in a film.
Q. Varun, you said that October came at the perfect point for you in your career. You needed October at this time. Why
Varun: I always say this. I mean, I have started saying it now which might sound stupid, but this film has a very spiritual significance for me. There were things happening in this film with me which were not in our control. It almost felt like there was someone looking over this film in a very beautiful manner and not freaking anyone. He [Shoojit] has wanted to make this film right from 2004; this could have been his very first film or the second… But the fact is, it is coming now in his career when he has won a National Award and has so much acclaim. He could have made the film with a far bigger actor than me. Basically, he could have made a bigger film. He could have done whatever he wanted, but he chose to tell the story that he wanted to tell way back, in 2004. That thing was there in the director’s heart. So, I knew I wanted to do this when I came to know these things, that’s why this film is so close to him. I always wanted to work with those people who want to give something out [to the world], who have a story to tell and October was that. It isn’t a film that’s like, “Okay, come on let’s make money”, or “Let’s make a big name”, or “Let’s make hoo-haa about who we have”. It isn’t about any of this. It’s purely about a director’s heart to tell a story to society, or to people, and not to please them, but just to artistically bring it about.
Q. And that’s perhaps why you said that working with Shoojit Sircar is your greatest achievement. You’ve said working with his team felt like being in the 1983 World Cup winning team.
Varun: It feels amazing to work with people when the producer doesn’t call you and tell you that you know, “We should open at this X number or we should do this…” And then I am trying to ask them “What do you feel, how much money should a film make?” And he is just like, “This film is not about making money and why do you care about the money? It’s my money not yours, so chill!” And I am like, I never had that in all my years till now. Right from my first film, and the second film also, I had so much pressure. I have always taken that upon myself but now when I want to take it upon myself, these guys are not letting me take that. They are just like,
Q. Shoojit, what made you take Varun on board for this project? He has said, even when Student of the Year was releasing, that he wanted to work with Shoojit Sircar. It’s taken a while to happen, but what finally made you realise that Varun was perfect
Shoojit: He’s speaking quite peculiarly nowadays, and his behavior has changed quite a bit. I guess, possibly a film should affect you. I think if a film does not steer you ahead or if it doesn’t affect you, then I don’t find any energy or inner drive. So, we were looking for integrity from a person, complete surrender because this character could not have been possible without complete surrender. It needed somebody to just jump on to that character’s soul and I think that’s how a film should be made. And that’s how an actor should perceive the character to get into the soul of that character. And that’s only possible when you’re clear in your head, when you’re honest and you have no doubt about the character or the film. So, it can only happen with that kind of purity and integrity.
Q. Varun, you have a different look in the film, it’s a bearded look. You’re sporting a mustache today for Sui Dhaaga. What’s the feedback you’re getting for this look?
Varun: It’s pretty cool! I’ve been getting a lot about Pablo Escobar. I think when I am in Western clothes , obviously I get an international kind of appeal, and when I am in Indian clothes, like how I am dressed in the film, I get the response I want.
Q. You went off social media for this film as well. There were times when you didn’t sleep at night at all. Did that affect you off the set as well? And you as a person, how have you changed after this film? Looking at love and other emotions after this?
Varun: You know what this does to you, which I didn’t understand initially, and something which he [Shoojit] told me I won’t. But, basically he was telling me to stop thinking about worldly things. So, firstly you cut off from social media because you don’t want to get all that on your head. The second thing is, when you are not sleeping and you are staying awake, it’s about how you start thinking… How do you control your mind. So, he gave me certain songs, certain melodies to hear. It was Jahnavi Harrison’s “Hare Rama Here Krishna”, which I would listen to and which would almost calm me down. And then, I would find myself thinking that I am chasing this box office and chasing this highlight in my career. But what you are actually chasing is calmness. And when you get that, it’s the best feeling ever.
Q. Is it true that real life incidents also inspired this film—something you read or you experienced yourself?
Shoojit: Both. One is an experience in 2004 and also something I read from a newspaper article. So, it mixed together and the film got a very real life association. So, when you see it, I am sure you’ll be able to relate to the film.
Q. Varun, you are wearing an October t-shirt—tell us something about that.
Varun: So, this is what a fan made. There were fans who travelled from Patna and from other parts of Delhi and they gifted me this. These are the same fans who I met at the hotel when we were shooting October. My fans have made me do this film; they wanted me to have range as an actor. They want to push me and I’ve always wanted that for me myself. But sometimes you forget that along the journey because you enjoy other things. And then you need people who love you to remind you that.