Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is your first lighthearted film in three years. Did you enjoy doing comedy?
I have always loved doing comedy, I started my journey with Pyaar Ka Punchnama, which was a refreshing comedy, today it’s considered a cult comedy . I’m always open to exploring other genres too like I did with Dhamaka and my next Freddy .But comedy is something I started with and I feel most at home with. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is my first theatrical release in this post-COVID time and returning back to the big screen with such a complete family entertainer feels good. It’s also my first horror comedy which I have really enjoyed doing.
The great Dilip Kumar had to resort to psychotherapy after doing a series of dark roles. Do you think actors need to unwind once in a while with lighthearted roles?
I think every actor needs to unwind after their roles no matter the genre because whether its dark or lighthearted, it is necessary to pull away from a character that may stick to you strongly. If you are doing dark films or playing grey characters back to back then it can take a toll on your mental health. Their thought-processes, the way they react to certain situations, or even the fact how my character Arjun Pathak handles stress in Dhamaka…. all this remains in your head for a long time. At times it is important to switch to another genre and have another character take that place. Hence a light-hearted role can bring a breather when one has done an intense film, but yes all this again depends from one individual to another and every actor has their own process.
Is laughter the best medicine for you?
Laughter is the best medicine for everyone. See, life has its own patterns of ups and downs and if one knows how to keep a smile and sail through it, then smile and laughter indeed serves as a medicine. This medicine is compulsory for everyone and Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is going to give you this laughter-medicine dose in abundance.
As expected the comparisons with Akshay Kumar are on full-throttle. How do you respond to these comparisons?
I don’t think comparisons should be happening in the first place. Akshay sir is a legend. One can’t compare me with him. His shoes are too big to fill in, no one can do that. I have grown up watching him. I love him as an actor and as a person. Bhool Bhulaiya 2 has a different storyline which I really liked. I’m doing this film like a new chapter and taking it on in my own way. The makers have made a franchise out of Bhool Bhulaiyaa brand and I am lucky and grateful to be chosen to lead it.
Anees Bazmee is quite a pro at comedy. How was your tuning with him? He is all praise for your comic timing.
Anees sir is a great director to work with and I don’t think I have ever had so much fun on a set as I did with him. He has worked for so many years and he knows the pulse of the audience so well. I had so much to learn, so much to gain from his experience. He listens out to his actors. Collaborating with him was a joyride. I am really grateful that he trusted me with this role and gave me this opportunity to be Rooh baba.
Would you agree that comedy is far more difficult to do than dramatic roles. You are no stranger to comic parts. Do you see a change for the better in your comic timing since Pyaar Ka Punchnaama?
Comedy is definitely a very difficult genre, for me, it is one of the toughest, put against any other genre. I’m sure there has been growth as an actor in me but comic timing has always come from within and the styles of comedy in PKP and BB2 are very different. Anees sir has his own style of working with the genre which I enjoyed. I do my best and now whether my comic timing has got better that’s actually a question my fans and audiences should answer.
What was it like working with the serious Tabu? Did she drop her grim persona to have fun?
Tabu ma’am has done so many roles, and some of them have been intense, that it is a false perception to imagine her always being serious. She’s such a blast to work with. There is nothing grim about her persona and she is always lovely and fun to shoot with. There is a certain calmness about her which is off screen and on screen too. She will sit and chat with you and talk to you about several things and when the camera is on, she will transform into the character with such ease that it is great to watch it live. Watching her act is almost like being in acting school – she adds such great nuances to her performance that one is left spellbound by her. I’m looking forward to work with her again soon.
Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 releases alongside Kangana Ranaut’s Dhaakad. Do you foresee a box-office competition between the two?
The two films are very different in terms of their genres and I believe there is always space for two films at the box-office, and I hope the best for both.
The pandemic has played havoc with the movie industry. Do you think Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 will help restore the film industry’s fortunes?
Let’s hope so. I’m hearing only positive things from the trade and industry about our film which makes me and my team really happy. Industry is looking at us with hope and that’s a great feeling. Fingers crossed!
Tell me about Shehzada. Do I see another blockbuster from Kartik Aaryan?
I mean that’s completely up to the audience but the film is definitely a larger than life film with action, drama, romance and lots to look forward to. I’m very excited about Shehzada. I personally have loved every bit working on the film.
From being an outsider to headlining such big projects, you have come a long way. Looks like you are not too far from your dream – where you want to be No 1 in the industry…
Touchwood! Yes, it has been quite a journey for me. From starting with Pyaar Ka Punchnama to today working with some of the most prolific names and banners … I am more than grateful for that. I’m grateful to my audience who showers immense love on me. They are my strength and inspiration. The journey though has not been easy as an outsider with no filmy background, with no one by your side to guide you. But it has got me where I am and taught me several things. It has taught me that passion, hard work and talent are the three most important things. I continue to work keeping these things in mind and yes, it’s my aim to be Number 1. Now I want it more than ever before.