For those of you who thought VARUN BADOLA made his acting debut as Ayushman in the TV series, Banegi Apni Baat back in 1994, read on to know that he didn’t. The actor — presently seen in the web series, Your Honour on Sony Liv and in the serial, Mere Dad Ki Dulhan on Sony TV — played a detective in a “daily soap” created by the production house, Mangalam Arts, owned by his sister (actor Alka Kaushal) and brother-in-law, Ravi G Kaushal. Just that he played this “role” in real and not reel life. In a heart-to-heart talk with Saurabh Tankha, the talented and versatile actor talks about his life and more.
OVER TO VARUN
Playing a ‘detective’ early in his career
There were two reasons why I had to play the role of a ‘detective’. One, I had to be fitted into a job after the completion of my studies. Two, I was supposed to give all reports of the happenings at the production house to the ‘high command’ later in the day. But before this ‘role’, I had started off my career in the entertainment industry as a costume coordinator. I didn’t last long because jiski apni dressing sense itni buri ho woh doosron ko kya dress karega. For someone who had never got out of a pair of jeans and t-shirt ever, costume coordination was a task. So, I moved on and became an assistant director. And I must admit to be a very reluctant assistant. I aspired to be an actor so it didn’t interest me much either. But then whatever duty I was given, I used to do diligently.
I always feel I would have been a better director than an actor. But then I got one show as an actor and then another and here I am…
The story started changing when I was made the additional dialogue writer. This was 1996-97. So, the assistant director became an additional dialogue writer and when you are working with filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia, it means business. The moment of truth came in 1997 when I met him one day and he said, ‘I’m leaving tomorrow for some work, so what will you do? I told him I’ll meet him at his home the next day — I reached there, packed his bags and saw him off at the railway station. Then Tulika (Tigmanshu’s wife) and I sat down to write. We were clueless on what to do? Tulika then told me that before he had left, she had asked as to who will write the dialogues and Tigmanshu had replied, ‘Varun will. And I know he will write well.’ This was the first time I got to know that someone had more confidence in me and talent than I had in myself. Thereafter, my thought process took that direction. I assisted Tigmanshu in Haasil and Charas.
I always feel I would have been a better director than an actor. But then I got one show as an actor, and then another and here I am. There was no time for direction as acting consumed most of my time. But there came a juncture where I had to decide between acting and directing. I thought I have come here to become an actor so acting it should be.
On choosing unconventional roles
When the roles are simple, one needs to find complications in the character. In the roles I choose to do, complications already exist which simplify things for me. When you look at Amber Sharma from Mere Dad Ki Dulhan at a macro level, you realise he is a weak character. He is foul-mouthed, can’t be friends with anyone, fights with neighbours. Professionally, the graph of his business is dipping. Whatever he does results in a mess. The only thing in his favour is the love he has for Nia, his daughter. He is even ready to sacrifice his newfound love, Guneet Sikka (Shweta Tiwari). But then Amber Sharma is your lead character so one ensures you don’t ever hate him.
The character of Amber Sharma from Mere Dad Ki Dulhan is foul-mouthed who fights with neighbours and is a weak charcter. The only thing in his favour is the love he has for his daughter
Same has been the case with the other characters I have played. In Koshish – Ek Asha, Neeraj had only one job – to make life hell for his wife. In Astitva… Ek Prem Kahani, Abhimanyu marries a 34-year-old woman and then has another relationship, marries there and remains absent for 17 years. But even then the character doesn’t go negative.
The idea is that despite all these complications, you make the character look positive and beautiful for the audiences. Throughout my career, I have picked up roles which no one ever wanted to do or couldn’t do.
Transformations in entertainment industry
Technologically, we have become more advanced – cameras are better and lights not too hot as they were. But we made better stories back then. Earlier, you narrated a story. Now you sell a product. God had presented the TV industry a golden opportunity during this Covid-19 period where no one was going to watch movies. This was the time to change the face of television in India and make it more watchable.
Even today, Doordarshan has a better reach than the satellite channels. It passes on a lot of knowledge and information to the viewers
DD vs satellite channels
Even today, Doordarshan has a better reach than others. It passes a lot of knowledge and information to viewers. Most other channels aim to fulfill the dreams of the audiences and go to any extent. In the process, such shows come out as we watch these days. They forget that their job is to make quality content.
Views on Sushant Singh Rajput’s case
Frankly whatever I’ve read or heard, it doesn’t seem to be so straight as it seems. I feel there is something wrong though I’m not the right person to speculate it.