By all usual metrics, Sidharth Malhotra shouldn’t be where he is right now. Not much more than three years ago, no bookie would have taken bets that a low-rent pretty-boy from Delhi would be fielding scripts from the industry’s top directors and flouncing around with the silver screen’s hottest starlets. And now that he is, it’s only making Sid’s next moves all the more shady to predict, such is the circumference of the light cast by his stardom.
Did you know you were going to star opposite Katrina Kaif before you signed on for Baar Baar Dekho?
“No,” Sidharth Malhotra demurs, “I didn’t know it would be her.”
So Katrina agreed to this part knowing you were her leading man? Well played.
“That’s true,” he says, raising his hands for a double air-quote: “I can probably ‘brag’ about that. Having been not so long ago dismissible as a “model-turned-actor”, Sidharth Malhotra has struggled to sidestep some of the more banal roles offered to pretty-boy newcomers, or at least limit his output – he’s only done three films since 2013. “Coming from Delhi,” he says, “from outside ‘the industry’, the whole process was very intimidating.”
Because you weren’t born into the incestuous cabal of Bollywood royal families?
“Correct. I didn’t grow up like them. My father was in the merchant navy, my brother’s a banker…”
You could say you’re all in the service industry. Yours is just more public than theirs. Your brother the banker must like your margins, your return on investment.
“True,” chuckles Sid. “I do look at it like going to an office. Maybe the people change every day, every hour, and I am under a lot of pressure; but it’s a job and I don’t take my work home with me. Which is different from a lot of people I know in the industry.”
They take their work home because home is where their work comes from. But you can still step out of that bubble.
“Exactly,” says Sid. “Maintaining a successful life within the industry is like walking a tightrope. You can’t believe you’re the biggest, because everything will go off balance. I think my background helps me with that. I can always go back to my family in Delhi and see things from the outside… It’s difficult to concise it into words. Right now, I feel like it’s more about progress than perfection. As long there’s progression, I’m happy. Who knows when I’m going to hit that level where I get something amazing or make something iconic.”
I saw a David Lynch interview once and his only advice for creating anything was to ignore the outcome. He said, “You have to enjoy the doing.”
“Correct. And it’s less fun to do something when you’re expecting a certain result. When Ek Villain released [in 2014], I have to admit I was very naïve. I was told, ‘Oh it’s done 16 point whatever on Friday’, and all I knew was that that was more than Hasee Toh Phasee. Now, after three years, I’ve realized what it takes to get so many people into a theatre on a Friday. I remember Salman Khan coming to my house that weekend, and saying, ‘That’s good, buddy. You kicked some ass, but don’t take it easy.’”
Did you think it would get easier as you went along?
“I did, actually. But I was completely wrong. Every film, you start from zero. We’re also at a stage where audiences think about content before actors, which is different from the previous generation. We don’t have such a blind fan following. Even Salman; I walked up to him recently and said, ‘I loved you in Sultan, that one scene in the mirror. I haven’t seen you do that in a very long time.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘You’ve never seen me do that.’ Even he has to adapt to this new kind of audience.”
Sid puts a boot on the corpse of his vanquished enemy – proof of victory being that no one calls him a model-turned-actor anymore. And as such, the victor speaks:
“I think India is a very superficial country, in that we’re very – we like decent faces, or something that is easy on the eye. And we grew up seeing heroes and actors who look a certain way. And I’m not fully giving in to that. To be honest, I’ve not really done a film where it’s purely about being a good-looking guy. People always ask me where I see myself in the next few years. And I really can’t imagine. All those years ago roaming around Delhi, could I have imagined I’d be here? So I really don’t know. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, but also trying new things.”
Source: GQ India